Back when I was managing an organization, there was an employee who had been a faithful and loyal member of the team for many years. I began to notice some changes in attitude and behavior. I began to hear frustration on calls with customers, where for years customer service was this person’s strength. I knew something was wrong, so we had a talk. The bottom line is things went south from there and just before their vacation, I asked the person, who was a strong Christian, to pray and ask the Lord about the future. When they returned, first thing, I asked what they had heard. The answer was something like, “to just keep going.” I knew things couldn’t continue and it was time. I offered a generous severance over the next few months and a glowing reference to anyone on their behalf. It felt like a friendship was ruined, but I believed God was at work. The employee left at the end of that week. I reached out once to encourage, but no response.
About a month later, I received a long email. Clarity had come about the past year, as well as a clear direction regarding the future, made possible by the person sitting before the Lord—talking and listening. But the key sentence in the email was this: “Robert, thank you for pushing the stop button when I was not able to.”
As I talked with this person periodically over the next couple of years, even officiating one of their children’s wedding ceremonies, I saw a restored peace and a purpose that had dwindled over years of “staying at it.”
We are all creatures of habit and routine. Once we are on the human hamster wheel, we just keep running, thinking it is going somewhere, eventually. It is a difficult, frightening, crazy, daunting move to stop running, grab the wheel, and jump off. And the more “successful” and “stable” the situation, the harder it is. Then it is equally challenging, after getting off, to not just jump onto another wheel that “you’re supposed to,” and start it all up again.
It is hard to walk away and walk alone. But there are times in every life when the best thing to do is also the hardest thing to do. And if the Lord is on that road, then the hardest road is the right road.
If you are a Christian today, the only way you have salvation, now and in eternity, is because Jesus never got on the wheel, never played it safe, and walked alone down the most difficult road any being on Earth ever has.
So, are you exhausted on the human hamster wheel? Do you need someone to hit the stop button for you? What’s it going to take? How much longer can you run? . . . It’s your move.
I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences. You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. —Ephesians 4:2-5 MSG