Faithfulness in Fathering - Running the Race & Finishing Well

*A version of this post was intended to be published in April, about a month before I graduated from my postgraduate programme in counselling. But in a twinkling of an eye, 2 months have passed since then. I am re-writing this post as I want to capture the emotions from that period of my life.*
The moment I had been waiting for!
It has now been just over a month since I gradated from my postgraduate programme. I recall the period before graduation. It was a tough period, and I was finally graduating after almost 3/1/2 years of juggling between work and studies and family. In most marathon races, the last part is always the most difficult. And while I may not be an athlete, I can identify with the aches and pains associated with that last leg of the journey. 

The finishing line is in sight. You have the date of the graduation ceremony at the back of your mind. The tape at the end of the race is fluttering in the breeze. You have collected your graduation gown and sent out the invitations for the ceremony. You are approaching the final lap. You attend your last couple of lectures and submit your last couple of assignments. But yet your legs ache at the tremendous distance you have already run. Your mind swirls through the list of modules already completed. 

You want to carry on, but it seems your entire being is transfixed at your feet, and you lack the physical, emotional and mental strength to push forward one more mile. Just one more mile. 

The last mile.

It was an agonising feeling. You were almost at the end of a difficult period in your life; but yet you lacked the strength to press on; to hobble onwards towards that final stretch. You were aware that you would one day cross the finishing line; it's just how much more it would take out of you.
One of my many moments spent studying in a quiet corner somewhere in Singapore.
I will always remember the words of a great man who lived many years ago. This man was in prison and was on the verge of being executed for believing in a cause that the government of the day was strongly against. He had been whipped on countless occasions, beaten with rods, stoned, and shipwrecked. He had faced danger from rivers, robbers, from his own people and from outsiders. He had endured many sleepless nights, experienced hunger and thirst, and shivered in the cold. Yet when he wrote what was to be his last letter to his mentee, he uttered the following words:

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 

The man's name was Paul, and he was writing to his friend and disciple Timothy, urging him to come quickly to him. Not long after the letter was written, the man, Paul was executed for his belief in Jesus. He fought hard and he fought well; he finished the race of life; and he kept the faith.

Recently there was another great man who left the world. This was a man who had humble beginnings in a farm in the US state of North Carolina. Yet this was a man who would one day be a confidant to 12 US presidents and a major influence to people all across the world. But when Billy Graham was asked what he wanted to be remembered for, he declared: 

"I want to be remembered as a person who was faithful to God, faithful to my family, faithful to the Scriptures, and faithful to my calling … a man who dedicated his life to the Lord and never looked back.”

Looking back, I am so thankful that I have crossed the finishing line of my graduation. But there is another line that remains to be crossed. I ask myself what legacy I want to leave behind when all is said and done. What do I want to achieve at the end of the race as described by Paul and by Billy Graham. Am I en route towards accomplishing all my hopes and dreams for this life. 
Where are we headed? What is our final destination?
What do I hope and dream for? What do I hope to leave behind? At this stage of my life, two things are the most important to me - my work and my family. 

Four years ago, despite many contradictory opinions, I left my full-time job to set up a company with my wife. It has been a difficult period, as the timing also coincided with my re-entry into the student world and the starting of my postgraduate studies. I was spending most of my waking hours establishing the new company while at the same time attempting to be as dutiful a student I could possibly be. My business mentor Lawrence shared that most new business endeavours take at least 2-3 years to achieve stability. That was what we experienced with our business, and our company only achieved a measure of stability after about 3 years after establishment.   

This was also a difficult time for me as I sought to manage my time with my family. One of the reasons for leaving my full-time job was so as to be able to spend more quality time with them. Well, I was able to ferry Sue and the kids for a number of their play dates, enrichment classes and other appointments, but I was not able to spend as much time with them as I wanted. For instance there would be times when I would fall asleep while at the sofa or while playing board games with them. Then there would be other times when I had to rush a major contract bid or churn out a curriculum for one of my projects. I would then have to drop them off at a nature walk or other scheduled outing, and then find a quiet place alone for me to complete my work.   
Thankful for precious holidays like these. That's what life means to me :) 
Given my day-to-day struggles with work and family, can I then say that I am on the way towards leaving a legacy? And where will I stand once all is said and done?

Sue recently shared a conversation between my sons which I will re-post here:     

Z: I wish Jesus would come down and freeze time so we could always be this age and Mummy won't have to grow old and die.

E: But that's impossible!

Sue: Jesus did come down and die for us so that even when we die, we will see each other one day in heaven. (Sue is completely ignored...)

E: Anyway Z, you don't have to worry. Mummy's hair is still black so I think she isn't dying soon.

Z: Oh yes. She doesn't have white hair. How long do you think she's going to live for?

E: I don't know but I think at least till 100 years, you think?

Z: Yes. I think so. But then what happens when she tells us to move to our own house when we are older?
E: I know. Then we will find a house nearby so we can all stay near one another! Good idea, Mummy?                                                                                                                   
All of us want to live forever. But the race is far from over.

I am thankful that I am able to enjoy moments like these. How can I achieve a lasting legacy? I believe the answer is to continue running the race; to continue doing what I have been doing; to be faithful in the small things, and in doing so, I believe I will also be faithful in the bigger things.                 
The Lim Family, May 2018. Treasuring and living each moment. 

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