Whether its college, work or being a full-time homemaker, we find ourselves constantly hurried year in and year out. At the beginning of each year, we set goals and resolutions for ourselves. Often, besides losing weight, setting aside more time for God seems tops our list. Yet, as the months pass by and we are caught in a whirlwind of assignments, deadlines, targets, challenges and daily chores, our resolutions for the year becomes obsolete.

It does not help that the world we live in promotes “bigger, better and faster” everything. Be it our food preparation, the gadgets we buy, the lifestyle we adopt, and the technology we use… where we are constantly chasing and adapting, it forces us to ‘keep up’ with the expectations of the world. The results are people who are overworked, overstressed and spiritually undernourished. When this happens, even the simplest task becomes a dreaded chore.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” We can say that there are more distractions and temptations in the world now than a hundred years ago. It may be true, but I am convinced that people who lived a hundred years ago felt the same way regardless.

In the middle of last year, I found myself staying back at work almost every day to finish a project I was working on. I was given a tight deadline which meant working on weekends and sacrificing time with family and God. Although I made it to church every Sunday, I would rush back to my workplace and do as much work as possible so that I would not have the Monday blues the next day. I skipped gym, cooking meals, some life group meetings, and time with my family – and soon realised that I was growing distant from God as well. Once the project was over, I did not feel any sense of satisfaction; I felt dry and lacked the enthusiasm for life.  I did not enjoy the activities I did before.

I felt close to God when I spent time on the things that mattered, often when I’m doing activities that I enjoyed.

That’s when I had this thought: I felt close to God when I spent time on the things that mattered, often when I’m doing activities that I enjoyed. It doesn’t mean that God was not there when I work, but when I began to run on “empty”, not stopping to refuel or nourish my soul and spirit – or even rest physically - that’s when I unknowingly began to burn out. How often do we run on our own strength to the point of mental and emotional exhaustion? What or who do we blame when we don’t “feel” God in our busyness?

I’m thankful that I signed up to go on a mission trip to Cebu, Philippines with the church.  The decision was made in the beginning of the year not knowing that I will be caught up with work, and turned out to be just the break I needed. During the one week we were there, I was immersed in God’s daily presence, even in doing something simple like eating together with the team and sharing our experiences.

There was a real and rich sense of God’s presence in whatever we did. Above everything, it taught me the value of simplifying and focusing on the important things – for e.g., I learnt to make my conversations about God, and to not brush aside the simple things we can do to glorify Him. It helped me re-align and I came back feeling refreshed and renewed in mind.

Sometimes rest is not about doing nothing or less, but stepping back, assess and then doing things differently. I came back home and resolved to cultivate some new habits to keep the momentum going. The first thing I did was to make myself finish work on time, so that I could create time for myself to do the things I used to enjoy doing, with God’s presence.  It has been more fulfilling to enjoy my daily routine when I consciously have Him on my mind.

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