Summary: We often find ourselves running in circles around our mountains instead of overcoming them. God said that its time we quit circling an turn to him. Overcome the mountains, walk the path of holiness and cross the finish line victoriously.

Running in Circles

Sunday, April 10, 2011 AM

Pastor James May

I’m not often in a pet store. I just don’t have the time nor the inclination to own a pet. The closest I come to being a pet owner is the 10 gallon aquarium in my home where I keep a few tropical fish and even that requires more than I am often willing to give. It still needs cleaning from time to time and the fish have to be fed regularly. The feeding part is now done by an automatic timer. All I have to do is fill it with fish food and forget it for a few weeks. Now if I could just find and automatic tank cleaner, I might not be so inclined to want to use the tropical fish for bait.

One thing that does amaze me, when I do go to a pet store, is watching those hamsters run in their little wheel as it spins. It seems to me that they are running with all their might, but they never seem to get anywhere. They are running, the wheel is spinning, but nothing else changes. I know it’s there for their exercise but I’ve often wondered if that hamster might think to himself when the wheel starts spinning, “Yeah, I’m on my way now. Nothing can stop me! I’m breaking out of this joint.” He follows his trails in the cage, runs in the spinning wheel, giving it everything he’s got; only to discover that he hasn’t moved from inside the cage where he is trapped. There’s nothing he can do to break that cycle on his own because a much more powerful, larger being, with vastly more intelligence has already determined how his life will be spent and where he will go.

I think also of all of the different animals that are house in a zoo. They are often given a habitat that very closely appears to be their home where they should be living, whether it’s the lion on the African plains, or the monkeys in the rainforest, alligators in the swamps or penguins of the Antarctic; all have what appears to be a natural habitat. They often run, crawl, walk or fly, and as you watch them you can see it in their eyes, “I’m running; I’m flying away; I have to escape this place. I’ll dive in the water and swim away, I’ll take to the skies where freedom lies, or I’ll climb to top of the tallest tree to get away, but always they find that there is a limit to their habitat. Sooner or later they find the edge of their existence; the wall of the cage or the glass of the aquarium. From the greatest of beasts, the elephants; to the smallest bug in the glass case; all are limited by a force, a power, a controlling factor put into place by a vastly more intelligent creature called man. They are only existing by the grace and good will of the zoo keeper.

Now I don’t know about you, but there are times that I feel like I’m living in a zoo as well. Not only do the people around me take on many of the characteristics of lion, the tiger, bear, monkey or even the creepy little bugs, but I often sense that somewhere there is cage wall that keep running into. Like the hamster, I’m running in circles but never getting anywhere. Like the Lion, I roar at the world, making my voice heard, and then settle right back down in the same cage again. Like the monkey, I go swinging from place to place, climbing up, then coming down and in the end, nothing is any different. Like the elephant, I strain against the ropes that hold me back; perhaps even moving the chain a little further with each effort, and yet, when I do finally seem to make a break, there’s yet another barrier to hold me back.

In this message this morning I want to talk about what are we truly accomplishing in life. Life has often been compared to a rat race, where we run, forever on the move, only to discover that we keep coming back to the same starting point with every lap around the block.

First of all, let’s establish one immutable fact – we all have to run; we have no choice. An intelligence far above our own; and the circumstances which have been placed upon us, dictate that we all must run just to survive.

Out on the grassy plains of the African Savannah lives the graceful and beautiful gazelle. Every morning, upon waking from its night of rest, even the youngest of gazelles knows that it must be ready to run. He must try to outrun all of the other gazelles for it is always the slowest and weakest among the herd that will be caught and eaten by the lions. He must determine to run faster than the slowest gazelle and faster than the fastest lion, or he may not survive this day.

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