The Hamster Wheel of Life

The Hamster Wheel of Life
The Hamster Wheel of Life

I recently found myself running on the proverbial hamster wheel: very busy with a lot of activity, reacting to schedules, projects, people and pressures of life in general. The month of May always seems to be very full with kid’s schedules filled with school projects, programs and sports; graduations, open houses, various showers and celebrations. It’s really a busy time of year.

Although what I was doing was good and even necessary, I became exhausted, forgetful, emotional, and stressed.  I wanted to get “off” and take a rest, yet was challenged because of responsibilities and commitments.  Time was a commodity I seemed to have little extra of.

Performance/being busy is the world’s way of living.  It keeps you on the hamster wheel of life and once you start running, the momentum you have generated makes it almost impossible to get off, as you feel pressured to maintain what you have started. However, you become exhausted and the scenery never changes.  It’s one thing to be in a season of busy activity…it’s another to live it as a lifestyle.

The dictionary definition of busy is:   1. the quality or condition of being busy.    2. lively but meaningless activity.

I once heard an acrostic for “BUSY” that made a lasting impression on me, which is

Being Under Satin’s Yoke.

See, we have a real enemy whose only purpose is to “steal and kill and destroy”; but Jesus came to give us life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

With this in mind, I often ask myself if my schedule, activity, and/or entertainment are stealing, killing or destroying any area of my life. If so, then I need to take a time-out and re-evaluate my priorities.  God’s desire for our life is very different from the world’s. His intention is not for us to be self-reliant, but to be dependent upon Him for everything and have intimate relationship with Him.  Our value must come from Him, not in our performance.  Only He can satisfy and fill our hearts with what we really long for.

Here are a few other questions I must continually ask myself:

  • “Am I living my life intentionally with purpose or am I reacting to life or filling my schedule with too many things?”
  • “Is this just a busy season, or has it become a way of living for me?”
  • “Am I managing or surrendering?”

My friend, Daniel Amstutz, has a saying that I often find myself repeating, which is “Either you labor to enter into God’s rest or you will labor at all of the rest.”

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

Here’s another way of saying this, taken from  The Message (MSG):

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

I have found that the only way I can live in balance and have true joy is to spend time with Him first thing in the morning.  I have to start my day off right, talking to Him (prayer), being in His Word, listening to Him, and receiving His love for me.  When I spend time in His presence, I find the rest, strength, wisdom and direction that I need for that day.  He wants me to give Him my cares and concerns, and receive His love, joy and peace.

You will show me the path of life;  In Your presence is fullness of joy;  At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”   Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)

I want to live a life where I am not managing, but surrendering to the love and care of my Heavenly Father.  Only He can give me what I truly need. I liken it to taking my vehicle to the gas station to fill my tank with gasoline.  When I allow Him to pour into my soul, I become full of Him and then I can go and give out to others.  Any other means will leave me running on fumes.

Lori Snyder