Next to my house in rural Indiana there is a row of blue spruce trees. A family of rabbits has made their home underneath them.
We don’t see much of them during the winter. Rabbits don’t actually hibernate, but they are a lot less active in the colder months. But when the warmer weather returns, they are out and about again. I was watching two of them recently on a beautiful late spring evening. They scampered around our property, checking to see if any of my lettuce plants were edible yet, and generally just looking things over.
Suddenly, one of them jumped about 18 inches in the air, twisted its body and spun around, before landing on all fours. Then the other rabbit did the same thing. They continued with this odd behavior for about two minutes before resuming more normal activity.
Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, many Christians still see obedience to God as a grim struggle against almost overwhelming odds.
What on earth was happening? Were they frightened? Were they having convulsions? Had they gone mad? Not at all—they were happy and they knew it, and they were showing it. People who study these things call this odd behavior a “binky.” Binkying is the rabbit’s way of expressing pure joy, and my rabbit neighbors had reasons to be joyful.
And why not? They had survived the winter. A new litter of kittens—that’s the correct name for baby rabbits—was coming along very nicely. Those kind people had planted a new supply of lettuce, which would soon be ready. They had food and shelter, so why not be content? Life was good. So they binkied.
As with the lilies of the field and the birds of the air (see Matthew 6), I think we can learn a lesson from binkying rabbits.
Maybe you’ve noticed that we Christians can sometimes be a rather doleful lot. We tend to take ourselves a little too seriously, and although we might be reluctant to admit it, we worry constantly about our standing with God. We know we are not doing enough. We realize we need to make some changes and we hope it is not too late. Unlike the birds of the air, the lilies of the field, and the rabbits under the spruce trees, we do not feel secure in our environment, either physical or spiritual. We feel our relationship with God needs to be repaired, and we promise him and ourselves to “do better.” But of course, we never do. So we spend a lot of time worrying, and waiting for the divine axe to fall.
It is sad that so many of us see our relationship with God as a kind of obstacle course. Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, many Christians still see obedience to God as a grim struggle against almost overwhelming odds. But as Paul wrote to the new Christians in Rome, “God’s kingdom isn’t a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness’ sake. It’s what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy” (Romans 14:17, The Message).
Jesus went to great lengths to show us that his love for us is not capricious or conditional. He said he would never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) and promised that nothing and no one can ever snatch us out of his hands (John 10:28). We can be utterly confident that the really important aspects of our lives are secure. So even when other things get rough, we still have good reason to binky (Luke 6:23).
Just watching those rabbits binkying left me feeling good. Their joy at being alive was contagious. Real joy is like that, and this so often gloomy, anxiety-filled and stressed-out world needs to catch it.
I am not suggesting you actually try to binky. That falls firmly in the category of “don’t try this at home” for most of us. But the idea of showing by your behavior the joy you feel within is certainly something to consider. Or as Paul put it, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).