I’ve identified a painful area of weakness. You know the kind. It’s a hurt that led to an unhealthy habitual response. The more I think about it, there’s more in common with a hamster on a wheel than I initially thought. The thing about the cute, fuzzy, tail-challenged rodent on a painfully screechy wheel is that there’s a bit of cute factor to the critter, isn’t there? These days they even have some variety in appearance, too! You can still find the basic Golden Hamster, but now they range in size, fur length, color, and Arctic survival skills, I guess.
People are attracted to these adorable little furries. The hamster is one of the most popular pocket pets available—maybe for the sheer numbers in stores. Or maybe people like the fact that hamsters don’t have the creepy rodent tail some other critters have. There’s also a distinct possibility the numbers in people’s homes correlate with pet store employees’ questionable gender identification skill set.
The first thing I’d say about the hamster is that we have an attraction. We keep the little critter around and play with it.
14 For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am made out of flesh, sold into sin’s power. 15 For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. Romans 7:14-15 CSB
Verse 14. We are captivated by the adorable, beady-eyed little fur ball! Our habits can be like a little pocket pet we walk around with, pull out, and play with when we feel like it, as if we’ve been “sold into sin’s power.” If you know you’ve got a pocket pet, admit it.
Oops! There it is.
These little fuzzy rodents are nocturnal. After the sun goes down, when I’m tired, that little beastie is just waking to his busy time. If you’ve had a hamster, you may have been wise enough to locate the cage as far away from the bedroom as possible, but if not, you learned quick! (I suppose some learn to sleep through it.) When I am tired and easily influenced, I have trouble doing what I should, and I’ll do what I shouldn’t (v. 15).
Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— Ephesians 5:15
When I have low energy, I have to be strategic in my choices. It doesn’t matter which area of life; it would be wise to consider whether I have what I need to respond to others, circumstances, or my own thoughts in a manner that reflects my genuine desire to be like Christ. This would be a good time to be wise! Pause and get some perspective.
Rather than blow it, breathe!
Normally, the squeaky wheel gets the WD-40. (If only that weren’t poisonous to the fuzzy little critter!) Like fingernails screaming on a chalkboard, it’s a sound you don’t easily ignore. That metal wheel is the hamster’s expression of insanity. Round and round and round it goes, but going nowhere. It’s the same thing for hours. No change. Yet, that rodent pours all of its energy into this exercise every night. The pace vacillates between a walk and sprint (with appropriately matching sound effect), but it’s the same activity.
Look at Romans 7 again:
15 For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it.
It’s not hard for me to see the confusion, the insanity. There is no understanding. Paul does what he doesn’t want to do, even what he hates doing. I tend to think the hamster wheel is flying fast in that moment, the high-pitched scream assaulting the ears! But, what is that sound? Maybe that’s how we characterize the result of the conflict between what we know we should do and the wrong we do. The ear-splitting wheel feels like my soul’s agony either during or after the sin. (Does anyone else relate to this?)
I like how Paul puts it: “I know nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it” (v. 18).
And I do it, again and again, expecting a different result.
There are only a few options:
1. Continue running on the wheel.
2. Get off the wheel.
3. Quit getting on the wheel.
4. Re-home the stinkin’ pocket pet!
Option 1 perPETuates the cycle. (Yes, I just typed that.) The other options are the equivalent of change. Since the definition of insanity is repetition of the same activity expecting something different, I’ll opt for sanity—but the questions I ask are Why? and How?
21 So I discover this principle: when I want to do good, evil is with me. 22 For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God’s law. 23 But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin. Romans 7
There is a given “principle” in my life: I will struggle with sin (v. 21). As long as my heart genuinely desires to follow Christ, I simply must choose to come down in agreement with Scripture; that’s my singular litmus test for every thought, word, and action (v. 22). My why becomes my knowledge of the battle in me: my mind and body could be taken prisoner, if I let it happen, and I just don’t want that. Ever. I don’t want my mind or body to be the tools my enemy, “the law of sin,” uses (v. 23). Reality is, I’m not different than Paul, the “wretched man,” and I know I need a rescue (v. 24)!
Verse 25 is my sweet, fragrant grace! I can be, by the power of Jesus Christ, “a slave to the law of God” in my mind. Since my mind is the greatest tool I have to control my thoughts, words, and actions, this is a big deal! My how just became limitless in power and loving beyond measure. Even to death.
One more thing:
Therefore, what conclusion should we reach? “Let’s go on sinning, because we’re not under legalism but under grace”? Heaven forbid! Romans 6:15 CJB
Whoopsie daisy, I did it again…
There is grace. Big, loving, endless grace. But, in our options above, we cannot perpetuate sin. We have to get off the wheel when we become aware. Over time, our goal is to avoid the wheel altogether. I think that’s when the pocket pet is finally out of the house!
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. ~Ben Franklin
My goal is to get off the wheel in some areas. In order to do that, I’ll need to pause and recognize what’s happening. I’m going to celebrate every single time I get off the wheel. I’ll definitely breathe a big, happy sigh at that point. And, I’ll be thankful when I don’t get on it at all. Time to par-TAY in celebration of all that God enabled me to do! Even better when the critter is long gone! *Grin*
Photo credit: www.morguefile – nacu
Photo credit: “Hamster on a wheel” from PhotoBucket sharing – Carol-JPP.
Note: I didn’t mention one other critter characteristic: biting. One reason I don’t have one! *grin*