2005 header for issue 37

Good Books ImageWaiting for Growth: Devotions from Old Testament Poetry. By Tan Lai Yong. Singapore: Tan Lai Yong & Bethesda (Frankel Estate) Church. 2005. 128 pp.

Review by Dr Ng Peh Cheng

CHAPEL NOTES

Professor Paul Stevens, our Guest Lecturer from Regent College spoke at the BGST chapel on 23 November.  The message, “What makes our Work Christian” drew 3 principles from Col. 3:22-4:1.

        a.  Working for the Lord's Approval

        b.  Working for the Lord's Purpose

        c.  Working for the Lord's Reward

Chapel speaker on 30 November will be Marina Samuel.

NEWSBITS

  1. BGST alumnus, Cecil Peters, sends warm greetings to all at BGST. Since his return to India 4 years ago he and his family have been busy in their ministry with Grace Bible College Jamshedpur. He serves as the Principal and Director of the College and his wife, Sonali, is responsible in running the Day Care Centre. A fuller account about their lives and ministry is available from our website. See “BGST Alumni”.

  2. New Admission. Soh Wei-Yi Pamela is a new student in the Graduate Diploma in Christian Studies. She is a Teacher and member of Yishun Methodist Mission. In the church, Pamela is an active Lay Leader in the cell ministry, youth ministry and Captain of the Girls' Brigade (47th COY).

  3. Bible Lands Study Tour. Dr Quek is leading a group of 53 participants on a study tour of Turkey, Israel and Jordan from November 25 to December 9.

A Blessed Birthday to…  

 Ms Rebecca Ng  28/11

Rev Song Young Hak  28/11

Mr Calvin Tan  29/11

Rev Dr Tan Chor Kiat  30/11

Mr Khoo See Kiang  30/11

Mr Lim Hup Seng  1/12

Mr Bernard Chaing  2/12

Ms Vivien Chen  2/12

Mr Paul Lim  3/12

Mrs Loo Hoi Loon  3/12

Ms Poh Lang Eng  3/12

Mr Leong Yeng Wai  3/12  

“What are some of things that are difficult to wait for?”  Lai Yong asked a group of Lisu students who live “in the steep mountain slopes by the side of NuJiang (Angry River) (p. 67). They answered, “waiting for exam results,” “waiting for God to answer prayer” and “waiting for the grains to ripen soon or no food on the table!” (p. 67). The author finds it difficult too, “I hate waiting” (p. 25). Waiting is a difficult habit to form and to enjoy, be it in the village of the Lisu tribe or in the modern city like Singapore. Yet, the habit of waiting is a spiritual discipline considered most difficult and significant for Christian growth and Christian service.

The author is a missionary doctor. With his wife and two children, they left the city of Singapore to engage in the Lord's ministry in Yunnan. The book pens his painstaking habit of waiting on God. The concept of “waiting on God” can be an abstract idea to many believers but Lai Yong shows what it means and what it takes to develop the spiritual habit of “waiting.”  He shares his meditations particularly on the Psalms and other Old Testament texts that taught him the “how” and “why” of waiting and the "opportunities to put into practice the lessons on waiting" in his medical vocation and ministry (p. 27).

Waiting on God is to rediscover that God is the seeker and He has always been waiting for believers to draw near to Him through His Word (chapter 1). That is, the “waiting” is spending time reading His Word and allowing God's Word to flood one's life. It is the “entrance of God's Word gives light” (Psalm 119:130) that clears away distractions to gain God's perspective on matters that affect life and work. Lai Yong and his wife are grateful for their Sunday school experience that taught them to delight in the Word of God. Though without the benefit of a Sunday school where they serve, the “Sabbath Day Toys” were created for the daughter to “fill her mind” with God's Word (p. 31).

Waiting on God precedes doing things for God (p. 38) as demonstrated in the ministry of Moses who “as a leader, Moses first spent time with the Lord, “locked in prayer” before he spoke to the assembly of the people” (Exodus 35:1). When Lai Yong was a prison medical officer in Singapore, he found a place where he could have his sandwich lunch, read, reflect and dwell on Him before rushing off to the clinics along the way (p. 94). He added,

 

God gave me the divine gift of time to help me re-gain my perspective working with very needy and tough prisoners. Since then I seek out spiritual pit stops along the way to re-charge and to see afresh that God is constantly with us, in and out of these pit stops (pp. 94,95).

 

That place is the Biblical Graduate School of Theology Library in its former location. An apt reminder that the library can be place to wait on God.

Spending time with God will bring about marked changes in attitudes and values toward issues in the mission field. In seeking ways to cope with the issue of poverty, the author finds meditation on Isaiah 41:17-20 helpful: the references to “the poor and needy,” “water” and the 7 species of trees in the text help him to understand the meaning of serving the poor,
  

Waiting reminds me that only God can change a person's heart.

I need a servant heart that receives and thrives on His Word.

Busyness does not become holiness. Waiting corrects this.

Waiting tunes our hearts, alters our materialistic hunger so that

we can walk with the poor and thirsty whom our Lord loves (p. 45).

 

How do you know if a well has good water? How do you know if a well is no good?  Waiting on the Lord and reading Psalms is like “drawing water from a well” and “for well water to be fresh, people had to keep drawing water out of it” (p. 51). Lai Yong's makes the reading of the Psalms come alive with his sensitivity to draw spiritual messages from cross-cultural experiences. It illustrates his appreciation for diverse cultural learning and utmost effort to fill his mind with godly thinking,

 

If we just live carelessly, our lives become like a stagnant well.  If we just  drift along according to the latest fashion and trend without thinking, without  considering if they are wise or foolish, we end up with much rubbish in our lives (p. 51).

 

Waiting on God for spiritual growth commands discipline and demands the costs of time and will.  It is costly and difficult, but the habit is worthy,

 

We are bombarded daily with thousands of advertisements and messages. Everyday, I spend more time reading newspapers or surfing aimlessly through the Internet than I do reading the Bible. Part of my time spent in cyberspace is work but part of it is just ill-disciplined. I end up getting more messages that I need or want. It is only when the soul is quiet that we re-discover the riches of God's Word (p. 74).

 

“Waiting for Growth” stands out as an unusual book of devotions. Though the meditations are personal to Lai Yong, they invite readers to reflect on the phenomenal experience of “growing spiritually through waiting.”

*This book is available for sale at the BGST Library.

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