Chasing a Blessing

I preached this sermon at the end of November at Rising Star Baptist Church. At the end of the sermon, I talked fairly openly about my dad, saying confidently that he “will be eighty next year.” Little did I know, of course, that he would die from injuries sustained in a car wreck before Christmas. I quoted my dad as saying to me: “My prayer is to realize what I hope you know now…..that the chasing doesn’t gain the blessings we all seek.”

Here is the end of my sermon. You can listen to the whole thing at the link above.

This is hard for us. A lot of us are doers. We are chasing blessing. We want to know what to do in order to gain blessing. We study hard, we compete, we work ourselves to death. We chase blessing. We think we can catch it, earn it.

Did you hear that in Florida a couple of weeks ago they voted to outlaw greyhound racing? All of a sudden, no more greyhound racing in the state of Florida. Maybe you’ve seen greyhound races. These dogs race around a track chasing that mechanical rabbit that is run ahead of them around the ring.

I don’t know what they are going to do with all these greyhounds all of a sudden in Florida. I know that till now, when they would get to the point that they could no longer race, there are people who would try to find them homes.

Fred Craddock tells a story like this.

The other day, we were out walking in our neighborhood, and we saw a man walking his greyhound. I said to the dog, Are you still racing?

No, No, the dog said, I don’t race anymore.

I said, Do you miss all the glitter and excitement of the track?

No, he replied.

Well, why aren’t you racing? Did you get too old to race?

No, I still had some race left in me.

Well, what then? Did you not win? I asked.

Actually, I won over a million dollars for my owner.

So what’s the matter? Were you mistreated?

Oh no, the dog said, they treated us very well when we were racing.

Did you get crippled?

No.

Then why aren’t you racing? I questioned him. Sometimes you really have to push a dog to get good information out of him.

He said, I quit.

You quit?

Yes, he said, I quit.

Why did you quit?

I discovered that what I was chasing was not really a rabbit, and I quit.

He looked up at me and said, All that running and running and running and running after what looked like what I wanted, and what was I actually chasing? It wasn’t even real. Even if I had caught it, it wouldn’t have satisfied my hunger for even one day.

Quit chasing. You’ll probably never catch whatever it is. And even if you do….

And by chasing, you’ll never catch the promises of the beatitudes, either. The beatitudes are promises from God. They are a blessing promised by God to those people who are already what the beatitudes describe. So
the meek,
the merciful,
the mourning
hear this as a word of encouragement and consoIation. The beatitudes are God’s promises for
hurting and
humble and
hungry people.

My dad will be eighty years old next year. He’s been through some times of searching or chasing in his life—a broken marriage or two. In his 40s he left a successful career and started something new. He heard me tell this story about the greyhound just a few years ago, and it had a big effect on him, and he wrote me this letter. He wrote:

“As you know, I chased the “fake rabbit” a lot of years and even caught it several times, only to discover it wasn’t real.

“Your quotes from the greyhound were really meaningful and valuable.

“I wish I could have heard your sermon when I was about 42-43 years old……but looking back I probably would not have valued it….I had my eyes set so strongly on the “rabbit”.

“Finally, I think I have retired from the race….but even today, I find myself hearing the roar of the crowd at the track and think about getting into the race again…..then remember the emptiness I felt at times when I realized the rabbit was not real.

“My prayer is to realize what I hope you know now…..that the chasing doesn’t gain the blessings we all seek.”

We are all chasing a blessing. But it can’t be caught. It can only be given. And received. Can you receive it?

Blessed are you who are poor in spirit, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you who are mourning, for you will be comforted.
Blessed are you meek ones, for you will inherit the earth.
Blessed are you who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for you will be filled.
Blessed are you who are merciful, for you will receive mercy.
Blessed are you, the pure in heart, for you will see God.
Blessed are you peacemakers, for you will be called children of God.
Blessed are you who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.

God loves you. You are blessed.

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