Friday, August 13, 2010

Achieving is in the pursuing

Every morning uncle Tan woke up with the aim to equip himself to contribute to his local congregation at Batu Pahat. He persisted in finishing his two years Master of Theological Studies program at Trinity Theological College after having worked in secular professions for about three decades, seeing a need for him to be adequate to serve the Lord.

Many times he often told us that he doesn't know what will he be doing after graduation. He had three plans in mind yet he was not sure which should he take.

He sought to inspire the younger generation in Malaysia to lead the Christian community, particularly the Presbyterians, to broaden the work of Christ in the surrounding. That's why he invited me to attend the Malaysia's Presbyterian Church's 20th annual assembly eight months ago, to get me in touch with Malaysian Presbyterians.

He was my clustermate for an entire academic year. His room was just roughly three meters away from mine. There were a few times he shared with me that he would set up a think-tank group for the Presbyterians in Malaysia and would want to include me in the initiative.

Besides having a constant sense of humor, uncle Tan was a rigorous reader and thinker. I was honored to provide as much help as I could in his struggle with his essay on St Paul's Christology. After graduated in May this year, he went back to Batu Pahat to start doing what he was learning to do in the past two academic years.

About two weeks ago, he came to have dinner with us together with his family. During dinner, he shared with us that he was reading up on certain Reformed theology. Little did any of us who were around that table knew that that was the last time we would see uncle Tan.

Last month, just two months after his graduation, uncle Tan was diagnosed with fourth stage liver cancer. Many of us are saddened by the unfortunate news. And just more than an hour ago, we received news that uncle Tan has died.

Died.

Merely less than three months after graduation.

Uncle Tan spent a large portion of his life contemplating theological studies. After having decided to persevere through a two-years program, he thought it is time for him to fully avail himself for ministry. And less than 100 days later, there is no more ministry. There is no more him.

Some of us must have felt a throw back and start asking what's the point then?

This experience pushes me to believe more firmly that achievement is in the pursue; being is in the becoming. Our goal may or may not be reached. Nonetheless the process in reaching that goal is deservingly a goal in itself.

Two evenings ago, during our cluster devotion time, we were asked the question whether is there something that we know we should achieve but so far we still have not achieve it. Edmund (one of my clustermates and classmates) and I shared that what happened to uncle Tan has provided us a framework to see that our daily life not simply a process but also one that consists many tiny goals. And it is in these achieved tiny goals that our life makes sense, our day feels full.

A few months ago, I told a collegemate that the learning of how to participate in the public square, to articulate a public theology, is in the participation itself. Now, what uncle Tan has went through has helped me to see how this as a more satisfying way to live. This may help you, the readers, too.

Uncle Tan's favorite jokes are those that make fun of lawyers. He told many to us. Here is one that I told him, and now to you all:

"I slept like a lawyer yesterday. Through the night, I lied on one side and then lied on the other." (From Factually Yes, Legally No, a book that I bought because of uncle Tan).

Thank you, uncle Tan. We miss you.

4 comments:

Dan said...

Sze Zeng, thanks for giving us a peep into the life of Un David in his final years on earth. A valuable reflection too.

"...achievement is in the pursue; being is in the becoming. Our goal may or may not be reached. Nonetheless the process in reaching that goal is deservingly a goal in itself." Well said.

Always enjoyed reading your reflections.

Ignatius said...

Though I may not know Uncle David, but it is really sad to hear such news ...

"...achievement is in the pursue; being is in the becoming. Our goal may or may not be reached. Nonetheless the process in reaching that goal is deservingly a goal in itself. [...] our daily life not simply a process but also one that consists many tiny goals. And it is in these achieved tiny goals that our life makes sense" well said indeed!!

hahax ..., hi Sze Zeng, this reflection shows a guy who not only write with his mind or also with his heart!!

really enjoyed reading your post.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Daniel,

Thank you for your comment and interest in reading my rant here :-)

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Ignatius,

Thank you for your remark that keeps me in check :-)