982595_35909076I am back in Penang to see my mum. Needed to take care of certain things for her here. I envisage more such trips next year. I am here about once a month now. Yet every time I am here, I feel I need to be here longer. Or more often. Mum can’t relocate to Singapore. She stays in Penang with a caregiver. As the years pass, her needs grow. I wish I could give her more time.

Our ministry, Graceworks, is six years old. We are doing a lot of meaningful work. Yet financially we are still struggling to break even. I could do so much more to help in the publishing side of things. And further consolidate our discipling and mentoring ministries. I wish I could give Graceworks more time.

Our church continues to grow. With growth comes more ministry needs. We are committed to our local church. We wish we could give her more time.

And I know that in addition to my mum, the rest of my family deserve more of my time: nurturing our marriage, taking care of dad-in-law, being more involved in the lives of my boys as they move on in their own lives—all critical.

Most days I feel torn between my various responsibilities. On a bad day I feel I have failed in any number of my key roles. I pray and ask the Lord for wisdom. I want to be more focused. I want real breakthroughs in the areas of life under my watch. Maybe in 2014 …

I was sharing some of my frustrations with a friend after Sunday service last Sunday, and she responded by saying that maybe this is how it is meant to be, that this constant tug and pull of different roles is norm, and that we should find peace in it rather than always looking for some way to “be more focused”.

I appreciated her wisdom. In fact I had just preached on the Sabbath during the worship service and one of the points I had made was that one of the reasons that God instituted Sabbath rest for His people was to remind them that He loved them for who they were and not for what they did. God gave Adam and Eve their duties on the sixth day of creation but the seventh day was a Sabbath where they could not work. It was a day to be blessed by God, a blessing given before they had done anything.

I realise that all my struggles with the coming year revolve around what I am supposed to do and not on what kind of person I am supposed to be. As is often the case, I am much more concerned with “doing” rather than “being”.

This side of heaven we will never experience the gift of Shalom in its fullness. We look to that Sabbath yet to come (Hebrews 4:9). So, perhaps the “perfect balance” in life we long for is an expression of this longing for that perfect Sabbath.

So as I count out the days of a very demanding year, I remind myself that who I am must come before what I do, and that I must be more sensitive to how the Lord wants to use the circumstances of my life to shape me to be more of the person I should be. Perhaps my most important quest is not the search for a way to live a life that is more focused, though that is not a bad thing, but my most important quest is to focus on how to draw nearer to Him so that He can continue to transform me.