Unless you stay up very late at night and in the dark, you might not be fortunate to see what goes on in the ‘world of rats’. Let’s try to imagine for a minute, shall we?
The lights go out in the living room and the pantry, and the occupants of a large house snore off in their respective bedrooms. The rats, aware they are now in charge, get down to work.
They have a limited time before daybreak, so they have to be very quick about their every move. Out of their holes or cracks in the walls or floor, they run to their first port of call—behind the fridge; they look out and ensure the coast is clear. Then, they dash to any crumbs which was left under the sofa or dining table.
They scamper around looking for what could be eaten or dragged away to their hideout. You know that your home has been visited when you notice crumbs of bread and cereal scattered all over in the pantry or tins of beans and jars of marmalade have moved slightly out of position.
Before dawn, these little rats run back into hiding and stay in there until another night. It’s an endless chase to survive till they are caught in a trap or suffocated in a house sprayed with pesticide.
Last night, it was a piece of cheese they got to their hideout; the next night, it’s some lamb chops they will find under the barbecue stand. Then, the rat population increases as the baby rats join in the chase till more harm is done around the kitchen and pantry areas.
The rat race is a survival mentality: no purpose, no end goals, always on the run, never really enjoying each moment, comparing and competing with others, living to impress people.
Does your life sometimes feel or look like that? Since high school, you’ve woken up early each morning to catch the bus or train to get to school. You’ve spent the active hours of the day learning what your teachers said would get you ahead in life.
“Your life will be simpler if you align it with God’s plan and purpose.”
Achievements and milestones were celebrated at certain intervals. Getting to college was challenging as many of us waited for a long time to get in, either saving up for tuition or not even getting accepted at any school.
Matriculation was great as the head of the school read a boring speech indicating what a great a future lay ahead.
A few of us studied to be doctors; others, wanted to be auto mechanics while the rest of us got enrolled for any course that was still available.
After so many years of starts and stops with learning, graduation day was one day to look forward to as we wore our gowns grinning from one ear to the other proud to be finally free.
Lots of photographs were taken after a series of boring speeches were delivered by the valedictorian and school’s officials.
For many of us, studying for a degree was just growing up, getting exposed to practical issues in life, and meeting all sorts of people. Many of us end up never get to apply all the technical jargons we studied after expending so much on tuition, upkeep, logistics, and examinations.
Some medical students have become professional ballet dancers; accountants now host talk shows while engineers write books. Our certificates were quickly handed to us, and we felt in a race against time for what next to do. For many fresh grads, some got a job, other got married, or enrolled for a post-grad course.
For those who got a job, little did they know they had only moved up to another rung of the rat race. It was too sudden, and lots of choices had to be made in such a short time—where to work, where to live, what type of house to buy or lease, savings options, future plans, vacation destinations, and the list just won’t end.
Those who got married finally settled down to knotty issues with a selfish and controlling spouse, raising demanding kids and so many decisions and responsibilities too soon, they were ill-prepared for.
Many who got married without an income wish they had waited and are learning that marriage is not an achievement but a huge responsibility.
Studying for a post-grad degree is a great learning opportunity, especially when you’ve still got the intellect and funds to commit. It’s a new experience, but sooner than later, you discover how much debt you still owe when your dream job doesn’t happen as quickly as you have hoped. And you end up settling for a job you’re overqualified for..
Solomon says, ‘All is vanity and striving after the wind’ (Ecclesiastes 1:2). To get through school, you took a loan, then you get married to someone who’s got an outstanding loan too, and you both start out life with so much debt.
The race to nowhere continues, you’re barely settling down on your new job, and everyone’s wondering why you are not yet married.
Then, you get married, and the womb watchers are asking when the kids will be here?’ Then, you begin to compete with everyone else to send your kids to the best schools in town. Time flies and these kids are teenagers, they get married, you become grandparents, and the race never ends.
Your focus shifts from yourself to the younger generation. You now have more bills to pay, meetings with teachers to attend to, more mouths to feed and the endless grind continues.
With the advent of social media and the Internet, our generation is sleep deprived, keeping up with all the juicy news online.
Our bodies are running on reserved energy but many of us continuing to stretch ourselves to new levels of stress. We are up till very late scrolling through other people’s headlines and thinking about how we can also become famous, rich and influential.
God has not asked anyone of us to be famous but to be faithful. Your life will be simpler if you align it with God’s plan and purpose but when we decide to celebrate ourselves instead of celebrating God, we will be on an endless and exhausted journey to nowhere.
With little or no sleep, no quality time in God’s presence, no healthy meals and no time to exercise, we hit the road and repeat the cycle all year and all our lives.
And we drag ourselves to work and we are expected to excel whether we feel unwell or not. When it’s time to take some time off work to rest and relax, we spend all that time investing our time and effort in another business venture and return to work worse than we were before we left.
You know you’re not happy with the quality of your life, and you wished you could make changes. Only you can decide that you will do what God wants, not the society or even your friends. It’s a choice only you can make to safeguard your health and live life to the full.
Then, we have all that this world has to offer, all that money can buy but we find out too late that money can buy us a big house but not a godly home, money can earn us the most beautiful or handsome spouse but not a godly spouse.
Money can buy us a big and comfy bed but not a goodnight sleep. Money can give us quantity but not quality. All the money we have made us happy but failed to give us true lasting joy.
Many families in the cities stay together under the same roof but don’t ‘live’ together. Mum and Dad leave for work in the wee hours of the morning, and they return when their kids are fast asleep.
On an average, many parents may ‘see’ their kids only during the weekends, and that’s equivalent to about three months each a year.
If you return early enough before your kids are tucked in for the night, you might be fortunate to spend a few hours, and even at that, they are drowsy as you catch up on the news and have your dinner.
How scary the future of our kids will be with little or no nurturing—from those who should be there for their kids but aren’t. What will our world look like with a generation of spiritually and emotionally malnourished kids?
We often realize it too late that all our efforts are in vain when our kids have not walked in the ways of the Lord; rather, they have scorned the way of life we profess to follow.
Our chase for more was supposed to make us happy and satisfied but for many of us, it has left us empty and sad. We either end up working to hand all that money to others or fill our lives and homes with things we don’t need to impress those we don’t like.
Some of us are knee-deep in debt and we find out too late we could have survived with a lot less.
Is all of life just about going to school, bagging certificates, getting married, having kids, building houses, buying cars, making so much money just to name a few?
All these milestones or achievements are laudable but, they offer only a momentary satisfaction, and we’re on the chase for the next big thing that will make us happy.
Certainly, there must be more to life than moving from one rung of the ladder to the next. When you get to the top, what do you do with the rest of your life?
I don’t want to think for a second that these were all God has planned for us when He sent us to earth. Many of us would find us too late that there was more to life than all these.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 1 Corinthians 15:19. The rat race has robbed many of us of the three most important things in life—a great relationship with God, quality time with our families, and above all, pursuing God’s purpose for our lives.
There’s a purpose God sent you to planet Earth and not to Saturn or Jupiter (who knows if human life exists there), so seek out that purpose and live life to the full.
Don’t try to keep up with what people think or what the trend is or even what you want because you might have keep up going round in circles for a lifetime.
The fashion and car industries are good examples of change looks like. While one model is celebrated today, another one will be unveiled on the red carpet only a few months away.
You can’t spend the rest of your life moving from pillar to post keeping up with the ever-changing expectations of everyone else, with no plan and doing whatever everyone else is doing. Refuse to be selfish, living life for ‘me, myself, and I’. God’s looking for the fruits from His bountiful investment in your life.
And if you think you’ve been in the rat race long enough and wonder what more there could be to life than all the ‘chasing after the wind’. It’s never too late to make the changes to hop off the fast lane heading nowhere and jump aboard God’s plan for your life.
Now is the time to begin to ask God: Who am I? Why am I here on earth? Where am I going to?
What are you living for? Lots of books have been written about how to succeed in different aspects of life and we all seem to be in a race to get ‘there’.
But have we ever thought to ask God if who we are becoming or if where we are heading or if all we have achieved is even part of His plan. How disappointing it will be to stand before God in a coming day and discover that our lives on earth was a colossal waste.