Pastoral Perspectives

Enjoy Your Holidays

For many of us, the June school holiday period is a good time to treat ourselves with a getaway and spend extended time with our family members and friends. Hopefully, when we do so, we will not be allowing our smartphones and laptops to stand in the way of being available and emotionally present for our loved ones. This is because if we find ourselves preoccupied with work or constantly interrupted by the occasional phone calls and WhatsApp messages, what we are communicating is that we do not really treasure their company. In other words, we are saying that our loved ones can always wait but not our boss, our clients or our business deals.

To be sure, there is a fine line between being diligent and being driven. Although both may bring us to places and help us to excel in our work, Christians need to realise that latter will invariably cause us to experience burn-out and end up having little left to offer to our loved ones as well as in terms of ministry to people. Indeed, while we are to glorify God in our workplace through a spirit of excellence and in the way we conduct ourselves and relate with others (Col 3:23-24), it does not please God to have His people becoming enslaved to their desk and their hearts crowded out by money matters.

In addition, we do need to honestly search our hearts and ask the deeper questions. Why are we so afraid that our jobs, income or reputation would be at stake if we fail to take that phone call or reply that message? While Christians are not to be lazy or shirk away from responsibilities, there are some who genuinely believe that they will suffer great losses if they have no internet access, no Wi-Fi connection or had left their phones behind in Singapore while on holidays.

Admittedly, we are prone to forget that it is God who provides us with a job and our position in the company. This is partly due to our mistaken perception that what we do in our work have very little to do with God in contrast for example, to the farmer who cannot control the weather and seasons and is totally dependant on God for the harvest. As a result, we cannot take our minds away from work even while we are on holiday leave because we think that everything depends on us and how well we are in control of the situation.

However, Scripture reminds us that it is God who gives us our ability to produce wealth (Deut 8:18), favour with our clients (Proverbs 21:1) and other blessings in our work. None of these are ultimately within our control in the first place. Furthermore, if we are true to our prayers, whenever we say “grace” and give thanks for the food on our tables (and it is usually more sumptuous during our holidays), are we not affirming that it is the Lord who has provided (Deut 8:10-18, Matt 6:11)? Or has it become an empty ritual instead of a grateful acknowledgement that what we enjoy before us is truly from God (1 Chron 29:14-16)?

The truth is that we all need to learn to rest more in the faithfulness and goodness of God. After all, when we lay our heads to bed, we are totally disconnected from the Internet and “temporarily” unplugged from the phone. Indeed, woe to us if that day comes when technology enables us to be plugged in even in our sleep, because we are fearful of missing a call, a message or some latest development in the markets.

You see, restedness is not only found when we are physically away from our work and enjoying ourselves at the beach or having some recreational activities with our loved ones. If that were so, God would have commanded Christians to make it our aim to retire as young as possible and simply enjoy the passive income from our investments and savings.

On the contrary, restedness is found when even in the midst of our labour and employment, we experience the grace and blessings that comes with trusting God and putting Him first above all things. Hopefully, we will begin to experience this beginning with our Sunday worship and then spilling over to the rest of the week. We can rest because we know God is not away on a holiday (Ps 121:4).

Pastor Edwin Wong

June 10, 2012