Following Rabbit Trails
God has ways of getting our attention! He is always communicating, but we aren’t always listening. He may be broadcasting, but we may be tuned out, on a completely different wave length listening to another station, and so completely miss what He is saying. Other times there may be too much static/distraction to clearly hear Him. Having an ear that is tuned to His Voice is vital. And being prepared for Him to communicate with us in any way He sees fit is important too!
A recent example of this was late last year when I decided to try needle-felting for the first time. It was a craft I had eyed with interest for some time. Finally I ordered some felting needles and sheep’s wool and decided I would try to make some little bunny rabbits because they seemed like an easy, cute thing I could make. Then I started to notice rabbits everywhere I went; in stores, in pictures, and just down the road we saw a wild rabbit; the first time we had ever seen a rabbit in our suburb! In our national news there was even the story of a lost toy rabbit – finally reunited with its young owner after all the publicity.
I was pretty sure that Father was drawing my attention to rabbits although I had no idea why. I knew that we have a few phrases related to rabbits, “following a rabbit trail” for a dangerous distraction, “falling down a rabbit hole” for ending up in a false reality, “breeding like rabbits” for prolific reproduction, and “a real rabbit’s warren” for a mess. Those, as it turned out, were exactly why there was a focus on rabbits! This is exactly what we have seen in the past year: people seeing enticing little tidbits of information that take them down rabbit trails, causing them to fall into rabbit holes, resulting in them living in a delusional false reality, spreading that infection to others, and ending up with a real mess.
This ties in with the article I recently wrote about Being True. When I went to put that article on the website, I inadvertently chose a photo that was also linked to rabbits. The photo I’d taken was of bunny tail grass at the beach, but I didn’t even think about what the grass was called until after I had published the article. Often that is God’s way, He hides things that are in plain sight, until He opens our eyes to them. It is always a reminder that I truly see and know nothing, until and unless, He unveils and reveals it to me.
After mentioning these things to a couple of friends, and realising there was a bit of a theme, I thought I’d better hop to it and see what I could find out about rabbits!
They seem like such cute, adorable little creatures!
However, they aren’t quite as harmless as I had thought.
In fact, they are not harmless at all.
Here in New Zealand they are classified as “significant agricultural and ecological pests”. Not pets, but pests! They are “earth dwellers” who love dry conditions and can quickly become very destructive due to their habits and high numbers. Rabbits are known for their very fast reproduction and are very intelligent, clever, willful, wary, suspicious, demanding, and even vengeful. They are very social creatures who also carry infectious diseases.
Rabbits are primarily an agricultural pest here because they compete with our sheep for pasture. Seven to ten rabbits can consume as much vegetation as one sheep. Rabbit holes and burrows also cause so much damage through erosion, that good land can be utterly destroyed and become useless for grazing. Sheep are linked to our economy, so rabbits destroying and vying for sheep’s pasture affects our nation’s wealth.
Christ’s followers are also known as sheep, we know His voice and follow Him (Jn 10:27). In this parable about rabbits, the rabbits not only consume the same food as the sheep, but they also destroy the ground so that sheep no longer have an ongoing source of good food; without the grass to eat, sheep would become weak and starve.
The parallel is people believing and sharing things that may seem harmless to start with, they just seem like rather interesting, cute ideas that are fascinating to consider, play with, and make a pet out of. However, these things are not harmless and can be very destructive. They are from the earth, from earth dwellers, and not from the heavenlies. They thrive in dry conditions, where there is no river of Life flowing to wash away what is not true. They very quickly reproduce and spread suspicion, fear, and vengeful attitudes via social networks, hopping all around the place destroying and completely eroding what is good and wholesome. The infectious disease they spread is all bad news of gloom and doom, negativity and darkness, instead of spreading the Good News of Light, Life and Love – like we are told to do (Matt. 5:16; Phil. 4:4-8; Mk 16:15; 1 Thess. 2:3-8). They consume the same food that sheep eat, but instead of that food producing the Life and character of the Lamb of God in them, they keep replicating themselves and their lies which ends up ruining the land so that the soil in people’s hearts is turned into a stony wasteland that nothing can grow in.
Their words can be so destructive that they can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For instance, people may say, “The government wants to take away our freedom of speech” and then they violate that freedom by spreading dangerous and malicious lies and rumours, even advocating violence, so that the authorities (whether private companies or governments) are forced to step in and protect the general population by preventing those lies from circulating, and voila! The people were proved “right” while being completely blind to the fact that THEY were, in fact, the whole cause of the problem in the first place! This is blindness that eating a few carrots will not remedy.
It is like Peter Rabbit looking at Mr McGregor’s garden and thinking it is his right to eat the carrots the farmer has planted. He tells his family, “It is my right to eat those carrots, but just you watch my rights get taken away from me! I bet as soon as I steal some to eat, Mr McGregor will build a fence to try to stop me!” Sure enough, it happens, because the carrots were not planted to feed Peter Rabbit, it was not his right to steal them, so steps are taken to protect the crop. Mr McGregor was quite rightly trying to protect his hard work from a very cute pest that was set on destroying his garden!
These lies have ways of burrowing in… and those bunnies look so adorable that they are often welcomed with no discernment as to the damage they may cause. They can look like they couldn’t possibly do any harm….
One of the friends I shared this with had been reading a book with daily stories for children. When she went to read that day’s story, sure enough, it was about a rabbit:
The Little Rabbit
Peter had been working hard at school, and had learned to read. His father was very pleased, and gave him a present… A pet rabbit.
“I shall call you Twitchit,” said Peter, stroking the rabbit ears, “and you shall hop around wherever you like, and sleep on my bed at night.”
“Rabbits aren’t like cats or dogs, you know”, said Peter’s mother, looking worried. “They chew things, and they don’t have very clean habits; Twitchit ought to live in a hutch.”
“Oh, please, Mummy, give him a chance,” begged Peter; so his parents agreed.
Next morning, Peter couldn’t find Twitchit anywhere. He wasn’t on the bed, or anywhere in the bedroom. Peter slept with his door ajar, so he looked in the passage.
Suddenly, he heard his father say in a loud, cross voice, “That rabbit has chewed the electric light wire!”
“And he’s nibbled at the corner of my book,” said Peter in dismay.
After that, Twitchit lived in a comfortable hutch, and only came out on special occasions.
My friend pointed out that when we make rabbits into pets and bring them into our homes, they can do a lot of damage! The reason rabbits chew on anything they come across is because their teeth never stop growing, so they nibble on things to keep their teeth from getting too long. This can be extremely destructive in a home environment as well as on land.
It reminded me of the little foxes mentioned in SoS 2:15, they may not look dangerous, but they damage the vines. It’s the “little” lies and deceptions that people entertain and give time to, the rabbit trails they go down, that cause them to fall into rabbit holes of darkness, ending up in utter blindness and deafness to what is true and real.
“It is sometimes positively amazing and staggering what even Christians – and Christian leaders – can do and say because of this deaf ear to the Spirit. They can take up and pass on most pernicious reports which are sheer lies and do untold harm to others and the Lord’s interests because they do not so walk in the Spirit as to have Him say within: “That is not true.” It is one thing to include belief in the Holy Spirit as a tenet of Christian doctrine, and it may be quite another thing to know when “the Spirit of truth” witnesses within the heart to the truth or the falsehood. It is significant that both the Remnant and the Overcomer are marked by this “hearing the voice.” Jesus placed the ultimate issue of Life or death upon this “hearing the voice (not just the words) of the Son of Man.” “Every sabbath” they heard the words, but not the voice.…” (T. Austin-Sparks The Voices of the Prophets – Chapter 10).
Many of us have seen examples of this with the many lies and conspiracies that friends and even family have believed and repeated. People become utterly fascinated and obsessed with these lies, thinking they are true, and before you know it, they can no longer see reality or truth and cannot distinguish or discern the false from the true. This is because they have believed lies to be true, embracing deception!
Peter described this, “These people are no better than senseless animals that live by their feelings… They speak evil of things they don’t know anything about. But their own corrupt deeds will destroy them. They have left the true road and have gone down the wrong path… They brag out loud about their stupid nonsense. And by being vulgar and crude, they trap people who have barely escaped from living the wrong kind of life. They promise freedom to everyone. But they are merely slaves of filthy living, because people are slaves of whatever controls them” (2 Pet. 2:13, 15, 18, 19). In this case, it is these lies and rabbit trails that control people and prevent them from seeing what is true.
About twenty years ago a friend told me about a dream she’d had that illustrates this, and I’ve never forgotten it. In her dream she saw people standing in front of a mountain that had light coming from it. Some people were focused on the mountain and were walking towards the light, but some people were just standing still with their hands held out in front of them, staring at idols they were holding in their hands. They were holding things that were their sole focus; they were mesmerised and consumed with what they saw as they thought they could see light coming from the thing they were holding onto. The truth was that the thing in their hands did not have any light coming from it at all, it was the mountain behind what they were holding that was the light, and the thing they were holding obscured the truth. They had been fooled into thinking the thing they held contained light and so they had stopped in their tracks! They were so focused on what they were holding immediately in front of their eyes that it prevented them from seeing what was beyond that thing, and prevented them from seeing the source of the light. They could not see the true Light because their focus was completely dominated and occupied by the thing (idol) in front of their eyes.
Those “things” can be pets: pet doctrines, pet teachings, pet beliefs, pet ministries, even pet people, but they really are “significant pests” as they can prevent us from seeing Christ and erode what is good. They can take the place of Him in our lives.
“There is a need for abiding in Christ. The danger is that as we go on we may become occupied with the truth, or the truths, the doctrine or the teaching. We may become taken up with the ministry – and what a snare ministry is! There has got to be so much ministry fulfilled; we have so many meetings to take, and that means so many addresses or sermons to deliver, to prepare. There are all sorts of things related to the ministry, and we become taken up with the ministry, and the ministry becomes our main business, the business which occupies us. The work of the Lord may engross us. We have come into the truth, the ministry and the work. And then the truth, the ministry, the work of the Lord become the things with which we are occupied, and the danger is that we may cease to be occupied with the Lord Himself. It is the tragedy of thousands of servants of the Lord.” (T. Austin-Sparks, God Has Spoken – Chapter 4).
If we allow these rabbits into our lives, especially if we treat them as pets instead of pests, even just one can quickly multiply and become very destructive to our spiritual lives and cause untold damage to those around us. They can change the soil of our hearts from being tender, receptive, and loving, into being hard, unkind and unloving. We can be tricked into thinking these bunny rabbits are lovable, harmless, cute little things – so nice to look at and hold – but they are pests and not pets, and their trails will not lead to anything good.
We mustn’t go down these rabbit trails, blindly following friends, celebrities, preachers or prophets, no matter who they are or how impressive they may seem! We must have eyes and ears for only One, follow only One, love only One, and stay on only One Way: Christ. And in following only Him we will stay on the narrow path, on the way of Life, Love and Truth and not be distracted or sidetracked down any other paths!
God has trusted you with many things. Keep those things safe. Stay away from people who say foolish things that are not from God. Stay away from those who argue against the truth. They use something they call “knowledge,” but it is really not knowledge. They say that they have that “knowledge,” but they have left the true faith. (1 Tim. 6:20,21).
Seven Characteristics of the Deluded