If there’s ever been a perpetual motion machine it would have to be that of mankind chasing after worldly riches. Surely the rat race is reminiscent of the meaningless “chasing after the wind” so accurately described by King Solomon in the old testament book of Ecclesiastes. You chase and pursue yet never have enough, never able to obtain lasting satisfaction. We seek ever more yet never have enough, to be sure.
Growing up in a far north suburb of Chicago I saw the constant increase of the masses of people running along to and fro every day on that ever spinning hamster wheel called the rat race. But, back in the spring of 1998, I made my escape. Free at last! Free from the meaningless drone of perpetually doing the same thing week in and week out, always spinning my wheels but never seeming to get anywhere.
But, as everyone knows freedom is something that must be vigilantly maintained because there is, it would seem, some unseen diabolical force which is constantly at work seeking to re-enslave all those who would find that elusive but, coveted freedom. This is a sobering fact I have found to be true over these past 8 and half years we have lived in Northern Wisconsin.
For every would be agrarian there is this ever present tension between living the “simple” life and earning money. I have touched on this topic many times in the past. For me I am very sensitive to the plight of all of us who are seeking to live with a foot in both worlds. As the Amish buggy in a Wal-Mart parking lot fully illustrates, in one of my past posts, no one it seems, is exempt from this vexing dilemma. Not even the Amish.
Here we are, already on the back side of summer. Most of this year my family and I have been on a precipice of change. We’ve been doing some serious soul searching as to what exactly we feel the Lord would be directing us to do. I am fundamentally opposed to participating in the rat race yet to be honest that is exactly where we have wound up once again. For me the desire to not want to be running on a hamster wheel goes way beyond just a mere whim or fanciful notion. It’s spiritual thing. When I read the words of Jesus (Luke 12:22-31) expressly telling us to not “worry about our lives concerning what we will eat and what we will wear, for the pagan world runs after such things” I really take it to heart. Jesus showed little regard for worldly wealth and possessions. That theme runs all through out the Gospels.
When we moved to the country there wasn’t any financial security here waiting for us. It was hard to take that leap. To really believe the Lord and to bide by His timing, trusting Him to provide. To live by faith rather than by site. It was hard to do that yet that is exactly what I felt we needed to do. All the striving and scheming before that to try and figure out how to keep a certain standard of living always came to frustration. It seemed I could never quite get it all figured out. But, we new we needed to go. We had to. We were being called, drawn, even prodded to move to this place.
Sometimes over the years I have succumbed to the fear that maybe God would let us down. That He would embarrass us by not providing. Yet my fears have never once been realized. We have always had enough. We’ve never gone without. At least not without our own choosing. There are lots of things we just don’t have or don’t do like we see the “Joneses” having and doing. You know the Joneses they all have the toys and stuff. They have the cars, boats, motorcycles, ATV’s and big screen televisions with the latest cable or satellite packages. They take regular vacations too.
We weren’t here long when it dawned on us that we were living below the poverty level. I admit I had to mull that over a little. Hmm, I’d never lived in poverty before. I had to wrestle with that a bit. Then I realized there is a big difference between being impoverished and living frugally. And besides with all that we have, being “poor “is the farthest thing from our minds. We’re money poor it is true, even to this day but, we are rich in many other ways.
As I mentioned earlier, we have found ourselves back on that dreaded hamster wheel again. Mostly it has to do with running the trash route. That’s pretty much our only source of regular income. I was really bummed out last month when I realized I wasn’t going to be able to take off a few days to attend Mountain Fire Keepers, Country Living Skills workshop for July.
As things stand right now the garbage business really isn’t working that well for us. It’s at a real awkward stage. The way we’re doing it is just plain hard work. Harder work than I want to be doing at this stage of my life. Yet it doesn’t generate enough money to hire help or to even buy the proper equipment. We’re sort of in the same kind of plight as the American farmer. “Get Big or Get Out!” I can really relate right now with those folks. It’s a very wearying place to be in. Yet if we don’t do this for money what will we do? Back to scheming again?
I know God has a plan for us here. Sometimes I see it so clearly I can taste it but, other times it’s not so clear. Some days the enemy gets in and tempts me to doubt and to sit down and quit, underestimating the Lords provision and perfect will.
Recently I read a good book called The Bondage Breaker by Neil T. Anderson. It helped me kind of get back to the basics of faith in regards to setting aside silly fears and not believing the lies of the devil. Waiting for God to give clear direction can be a very trying time and makes us subject to all kinds of unbiblical thoughts.
In a future post I hope to give a little more in-depth report on this encouraging book. I’m still processing much of what I read.
The heat wave has pretty much let up in the North Woods. Just yesterday and again this evening I saw flocks of geese heading South. I thought, “wow, it’s that time again.” I never cease to be amazed at how God built the migratory urge into certain creatures. How do they know where they’re going anyway? When you think about it, it’s a total miracle.
Until Next Time
* A note about the guy on the hamster wheel at the top. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve worn a suit so it doesn't really represent my life in the rat race but it does represent many folks. I got a kick out of the animation. I found it on Yahoo. It was linked to http://jacobsmedia.typepad.com/jacobs/2005/09 Just thought I should give credit where it is due.