Dear brothers and sisters,
Thanks for praying for my comprehensive examination yesterday. I felt so peaceful and enjoyable to spend 10 hours at home to answer 5 big questions. I could tell somebody must be praying for me…10 hours went very smoothly. Yes, I have to budget my time well in answering all 5 questions. No, I wished I had more time to do a better job. Anyway, I have done my part. I leave it to the Lord to do His part, so that I know what to do next in life. I covet your prayer for my last phase of this study – 3 course assignments and one big dissertation to finish before the end of this year….At the meantime, I still need to preach in different places until Thanksgiving: New York, North Carolina, Brazil and Philippines.
My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore (Psalm 131). Psalm 131 is a maintenance psalm. It is functional to the person of faith as pruning is functional to the gardener: it gets rid of that which looks good to those who don’t know any better and reduces the distance between our hearts and their roots in God.
The two things that Psalm 131 prunes away are unruly ambition and infantile dependency, what we might call getting too big for our breeches and refusing to cut the apron strings. Both of these tendencies can easily be supposed to be virtues, especially by those who are not conversant with Christian ways. If we are not careful, we will be encouraging the very things that will ruin us. We are in special and constant need of correction. We need pruning. Jesus said, “Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2). More than once our Lord the Spirit has used Psalm 131 to do this important work among his people. As we gain a familiarity with an understanding of the psalm, he will be able to use it that way with us “that we may bear more fruit.’
Jesus said, “I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every ranch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken” (John 15:1-2). Since we are part of Christ, we are expected to bear fruits. And the way to bear fruits involves trimming or pruning – take away all the extravagant leaves and branches, so that all the nutrition will go to fruit bearing. This is priority setting and life-purpose checking. Don’t busy yourself in doing a lot of good “stuff,” instead of the most important stuff in life. It is time to trim your calendar and reserve more time to serve God.
With love in Christ,