Nurturing/ Teaching Courses
Spiritual Formation Institute
Echoes of a Conversation…into His rest
Dr Alex Tang
Disclaimer: These characters are fictitious and any resemblance to anyone is
Warning: The dialogue is in Malglish (Malaysian English) and may be hazardous to
anybody speaking the Queen’s English.
[Three friends found an empty table in Starbucks during lunch break.]
John: Aiyo, finally, got empty table. My feet got pain. What are you having? I’m
having a regular mocca latte.
Philip: Me, I am having a double expresso. Caffeine level is low and I need the
extra boost. What about you, Matthews?
Matthews: I’ll have a hot chocolate la
John & Philip: What!!!
Matthews: I am very stressed, lah. Scared coffee make me crazy.
John: Yeah, I know what you mean. My job as a pastor is keeping me busy too. You
know, this week alone I have to lead two Bible studies, not to mention preparing
for this Sunday’s sermon. Last night, I had to conduct a wake service for one of
Philip: Talk about busy. My clinic has been overflowing. There is an intestinal
flu epidemic going on. Everyone vomiting and having diarrhea. Then after work, I
have to attend bible study, prayer meeting and this Sunday my turn to preach.
Who got time to do all these things? Sometimes I fall asleep during prayer
Matthews: Oh, no wonder you prayed so long last week. I thought I heard you
snore! Hey guys, I need your prayers. I am having a hard time with my PhD
supervisor. She is really stressing me out. Sometimes I wonder why I want to get
Philip: Get permanent head damage (PhD)?
Mathews: Ha, ha. You know why. Boy, am I tired. I need a long break. Research
and writing is hard work, you know. No play play.
Philip: Same here. Very tired and very fed up with it all. Sometimes I wonder
why I bother to serve in church. After work, I am so tired that all I can do is
to lie down and watch tv.
John: At least you have a 42 inch plasma tv. I am tired too. I struggle to get
up in the morning knowing there are so many things I need to do. Sometimes, I
dread to meet my church members. Always giving me more things to do.
Philip: Who ask you to be pastor? Taking a break does not work for me. My
holidays are more tiring than my work. After a family holiday, I need a break to
recover from my break. Do you know what is wrong with us? Why we are so tired?
John: I think I am overcommitted. Too many things to do.
Matthews: Me too.
Philip: Maybe we should rethink our lifestyles. Be less overcommitted.
John: Huh, see who’s talking. Your life is so busy that I wonder whether God
give you an extra hour or two everyday.
Philip: Hey, I am serious, guys. Being tired all the time is no good. We will
end up being burnt out. Remember that sermon by that preacher on ending well. I
want to end well. I don’t want to burn out and fall away.
Matthews: Yeah, that was a good sermon. I like his jokes. I get his point too. I
remember during the sermon I wondered whether I would last the course. I was
drowsy and fighting to keep awake during the sermon. I want to end well too.
John: Well, doc. You have the diagnosis here, over commitment. What is the
Philip: You can’t afford my fees. Never mind, I shall charge you 50 dollars per
hour. Friend, friend, never mind lah.
Matthews: Can also. Okay, doc. What to do?
Philip: Yes, Sabbath. We do not have Sabbath in our lives. Our lives are doing,
doing, doing all the time. No time set aside for rest.
John: I know what you mean, Philip. I just preached a sermon on Sabbath last
Sunday. How we need to make time in our busy lifestyle for Sabbath rest. I call
the sermon “Sabbath Rest” Never thought about my own life, though. I just cannot
see how to apply it in my own life. My wife is complaining I am doing too much.
Philip: Maybe your wife is correct. Sometimes our wives see what we cannot see.
Don’t tell my wife or I shall never hear the end of it.
Matthews: Sabbath. Hmm, have not thought about the Sabbath for a long time.
Working on my studies on weekdays and in church all weekends, completely forgot
about a day of rest. Sabbath is a day of rest, isn’t it?
John: Observing the Sabbath is the 4th Commandment. Remember the 10
commandments? Hey, your PhD is in theology, isn’t it?
Matthews: Oops. Guess that’s what you call a pilgrim’s regress. You study all
about God that you forget to live with God. So what makes you think Sabbath is
the answer to our tiredness?
Philip: I was reading Philip Yancey’s new book on prayer. In it, he mentioned
something about Ajith Fernando. Remember Ajith, he spoke to us last year. During
the relief effort for the tsunami victims, Ajith wrote something for the relief
workers which Yancey quoted. I like it so much that I wrote it down. Now where
is it? ……..ah, yes, here it is.
“In his email entitled ‘Disciplines for Emergency Workers’ Ajith wrote, ‘God has
built into our systems a rhythm of life which we must not violate; output and
input; work and rest; service and worship; community activity, family activity
When I read that, it struck me that there is a rhythm of life, like our body
rhythm. And God has built a rhythm or work and rest into our bodies. We are all
so tired because we broke the rhythm. God worked 6 days and rested on the
Matthews: Wished God had worked a 5 days week! I get what you mean about the
rhythm and Sabbath. But look at my life. I am so busy. So how?
Philip: We all busy lah. But that doesn’t mean we don’t look after our health. I
have seen people changed after their first heart attack. They began to realize
that not all things are important. We can do with less in our lives. What do you
think, John? You are rather quiet.
John: I think that observing the Sabbath as a day of rest is not just good for
our health. I think it is a matter of obedience. God gave the 10 Commandments as
guidelines for the Israelites. That’s the Law. Does that mean we, under the New
Covenant do not need to obey it? I think that we need to observe the
Sabbath-rest too. It is just a matter of obedience to Jesus.
Philip: I have been thinking along the same line too. I think obeying Jesus is
more important than serving Jesus. I have been reviewing my schedule. Some
things I do not that important. I am thinking of rearranging my schedule so that
I can have a day of rest each week. May not be a Sunday. This means I may have
to cut down on some activities. Can or cannot?
John: Makes sense to me too. Sabbath-rest as obedience. I wonder how my elders
will take it if I begin to say “no” to more responsibilities.
Matthews: Look for a new church? Joking only lah. Alamak! Time to go. I need to
meet my supervisor in half an hour. Hope the next time we meet, we will not be
so tired. Jom, guys.