I was sitting at my desk in my living room, gigantic cup of coffee in hand, Bible open before me, when I was slightly disturbed by a strange rattling sound coming from the dining room. Upon a brief investigation, I discovered the source of this rhythmic vibration. It was Jason the Hamster.
I have grown rather accustomed to a very thick kind of quiet in these wee hours of the morning, so this was a surprising intrusion. I don’t have a hamster. No one in my household owns a hamster. If you and I have ever discussed my particular lack of affection for house pets, you know why I don’t have a hamster. But I do have nephews.
In addition to the resident flock of offspring, we have the blessing of having two of our nephews staying with us this week – along with their delightful pet, Jason the Hamster. Let me just say that the boys have been super and we’ve had a really great time with them. Other than this slight interruption of my early-morning solace, Jason has been a model house-guest. He’s hardly made a sound and has been no trouble whatsoever. I would even say I would not hesitate to have this particular house-pet for a return visit.
This rattling was the sound of Jason on his personal treadmill – the classic hamster wheel.
I’m pretty sure that Jason racked up the hamster equivalent to a good 5k this morning. As I know literally nothing at all about hamsters, I began to wonder: why is this hamster tearing it up on the treadmill at 4:30 in the morning? Why is anyone even awake at this time? For that matter, why am I up?
Life has seemed to be flying by like I’m on one of those insane couch races down an impossibly steep hill with absolutely no chance of arriving at the bottom without the loss of life or limb. I get up crazy early most days. But as I pondered the pace of Jason the Hamster I began to consider some deeper questions.
I spent a tough but productive hour on the treadmill yesterday myself (4.77 miles in 60 minutes!). So much of the time I feel like my day-to-day life is a dawn-to-dusk sprint on a treadmill. For all of the running (and panting and sweating and groaning) it seems like I’m not getting anywhere. I know that’s not the truth of the matter. I know that, even if it were, this life has never been about reaching a destination, but about how we make the journey.
So, as these thoughts are rolling around in my head like Jason’s wheel, I come to a realization. Why is Jason the Hamster on the treadmill at 4:30 in the morning? Because Jason is a hamster and that is what hamsters do. In doing the thing that, for some unknown reason, hamsters do, Jason is fulfilling the very purpose for his existence. This may seem a stretch, but bear with me here.
Jason is running in place, but he is praising his Creator. The psalms express in numerous examples the idea that the whole of creation, in simply doing what it was made to do, expresses praise to the Creator (Psalm 148). That takes me back to my other question. Why am I up way before daylight day after day? I am up to give attention, first and foremost, to my Creator. What Jason does by nature to give praise to God, I have to focus my rebellious heart to do. I must dedicate my entire being to the purpose of doing what I was made to do.
I was made to be a man who loves the Lord with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength. I was made to be a husband that loves his wife with a sacrificial, servant-hearted, cherishing kind of love. I was made to be a dad that loves his kids enough to do what is best for them even when they don’t like it, teaching them to find and fulfill their purpose. I was made to be a pastor who passionately proclaims the amazing riches of the Word of God and day by day, person by person, strives to help others know Jesus more and more and more. I was made to be a friend and citizen and neighbor and colleague that shows the love of God in action, not just in word.
And, though it often seems like I am spinning my wheels or sprinting on a treadmill that goes nowhere, in seeking and striving to fulfill the purpose for which I was made, I am, just like Jason the Hamster, bringing glory to my Creator.
“To the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6)
But that begs the question: why are you doing what you do?