Are You Burning Both Ends of Your Candle?

Don’t burn both ends of your candle.

This is the most visually sensible advice given by a friend whom I have not contacted for a long time.

Ironically, just after my previous post on my Half Marathon training plan, my family started falling sick from a nasty virus which went merry-go-round. The scriptures below became a good reminder that ‘Many are the plans in a person’s mind, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.’Proverbs 19:21

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Basically, the feverish viruses, incessant caring for kids and the worry over a loved one’s illness took a major toll on my health. I was put out of action from work for more than 2 weeks. I found it hard to rest when the kids return from school. I even wished I could book a hospital bed and sleep in for the week in peace! Yes, I was desperately in need of pure rest. As that option was out (for a good reason), I have to be content with my quieter mornings when my boys were in school and attending to my girl here and there.

From a hopeful new routine when school reopened, my body just shuts down helplessly these days. For a period, I whispered to the kids in a bid to save my breath. My auto response was guilt and worry over my untaught school lessons. It was a struggle for me to let go and relax. My mind still hovers back to my plans and undone marking. I had to let go of monitoring the boys’ homework time. It was a period of tug of war within my mind. As Sept draws to an end, I am filled with apprehension for the boys’ year end tests and a first End Of Year Exam for A in P2. Not to mention, the daily bickering from the siblings that I cannot intervene much unless I exert myself.

Helpless felt I.

My colleague wisely reminded me that I was Not Indispensable. Do not worry, the school will still run without you. My friend’s burning candle warning lit up. I have not learnt the life’s lesson that the Lord has in store for me yet.

In this season of enforced rest, I finally enjoyed watching more TV, catching up on a few masterchefs series and Jamie Oliver’s 30minute meals! I realised it’s been a long time since I baked or cooked up a new dish. I also had pockets of alert times that I managed to dwell deeper in reflection and His word.

Overall, it was a necessary time to regain my physical, mental and spiritual health. My spirit was deeply impressed by the Lord’s timely encouragement

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17

1. When I needed strength to return to work, He gave me this promise through a prayer book-

  • ‘Thank You that you give power to the weak, and you increase strength in those who feel feeble. We who wait on you shall renew our strength; we shall mount up with wings like eagles; we shall run and not be weary, we shall walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:29-31)

I had just sufficient strength for the day’s teaching and returned home to recuperate. It is times like these that reveal how teaching can be immensely draining and how important it is to be fit for grace and patience to outlast the day’s classes.

2.  When I felt fearful of teaching a particular class in my feeble state, He reassures me with his support.

  • ‘ You are my servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away: Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:9b,10) 

3. When I was anxious over my children’s EOY tests and exams, His timely reminder of His sovereignty chided my fretful heart.

  • Parents, relax. Children are a gift from the Lord. From cradle to grave, they belong to Him! Are you micro-managing your children’s past, present, and future? Dictating and directing every step of their education and career path? Don’t play God. Don’t be a control freak. Repent of your manipulative prayers. Renounce unreasonable expectations. Relinquish your children on the altar of the Lord. Remember: Many are the plans in a person’s mind, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. Proverbs 19:21 (Lovesingapore fortyday.2016@lovesingpore.org.sg)

Truly, I can make all the plans I want, but the Lord will determine our steps whether it will materialise. When I am up to the task then I will revise with the boys. Right now, they’re happy playing. They will have to depend on their daily learning and apply them in this hurdle. Most importantly, we know they are in God’s good hands.

There is often a fine line drawn between striving for excellence and striving in fear of losing out (Kiasuism)? The first works out to be the best that one can be, while the latter tries to outdo because of insecurity. I may not be kiasu outwardly, where kids have only 1 enrichment (except for A who begged us to let him learn to play piano) and has since been practising daily on his own. I however, do succumb to the insecurities of peer pressure inwardly when I realise how competitive many people are.  Perhaps, A should join this.. J can take up that… E should be given opportunity at music too since both boys are learning…. I am doing too little…..

Only when I re-commune with the Lord and lay down my ‘self’ can I withstand the temptations of Kiasuism. Just like materialism, there will never be ‘enough’ enrichment, tuition, coaching and ‘Acellent’ grades to pursue. Having said that, we try our best in whatever we do, as working for the Lord, not for men. (Colossians 3:23)  The difference? We are working hard because we are secure in Christ’s love. We teach our children to be responsible in their school work and conduct because we want to please God out of love for Him. Not working hard in order to gain love or recognition from God or men.

Essentially, this period of lull taught me the need to cultivate Slowness in my daily habits. I used to rush to and fro classes. As I conduct my lessons in the Art room, I have to get my class and bring them to the artroom, escort them back and rush to my next class to do the same. My normal pace in school is a brisk-athon.  Now I am learning to relax, keep calm and teach on. I thank God that when I am weak, He is strong and He gives enough grace for each day. What are the odds that my buddy sent me the video on ‘Slow Down?’ Just after my awakening of this need? It’s a beautiful song on how fast our children will grow up and how we would wish they will slow down growing up. Slow down took a double meaning for me.

To all these, I am grateful for the life to slow down, to live, love, cry and laugh. To enjoy our loved ones while we can.

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Are You in danger of burning out from both ends of the candle?

My colleague sent me Rick Warren’s devotional which gives us practical and insightful questions to ask ourselves before taking on a new activity/project to prevent the candle from burning out.

Perhaps it might take a health issue to slow us down, but why not tarry a little and take a breather before it overtakes you? 

May the Lord grant you times of refreshing in His presence as He has granted me.

Let me leave you with this restoring song.

Times of Refreshing

Written by Martin J. Nystrom & Don Harris

G           C
Times of refreshing
             F
Here in Your presence
           C         Am
No greater blessing
                Gsus4  G
Than being with You


             Em     Am
My soul is restored
             D/F#  Fm
My mind is renewed
                   C/E  Am   Dm
There's no greater joy Lord
     G           C
Than being with You

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