The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.
I began my University studies when I was twenty-eight years old. It was a big sacrifice for my wife, who stayed at home with our two oldest sons, aged five and three, while I lived away during the week. At the beginning of my third year my wife started to get sick. I was really worried. Any relief I experienced when I found out that the sickness was down to my wife being pregnant vanished when I discovered that the baby was due the following May, right in the middle of my final examinations.
As the time approached for the baby to be born I started to pray. First I prayed that the baby would be born early, at least two weeks before my examinations. I thought that this would give me time to be at home for the birth, and then focus on my revision. Then I changed my mind and started to pray that the baby would be born after my examinations. Then I found myself chopping and changing between the choices. One day when I was praying about the situation God spoke very clearly. He said he was prepared to answer my prayer if I could make up my mind. But then He challenged me to trust Him to make the decision for me. That meant letting go completely. Surrendering myself into His perfect will. It wasn’t easy, but I knew there was no other way.
My first paper (quantitative methods) was scheduled for the morning of Friday 20 May 1988. I left Thursday 19 May to revise for this examination, my intention being to work through past papers from the previous three years. I had already revised for my other papers, all of which involved essays rather than mathematics. At 08.30 on 19 May my wife called me to tell me that her waters had broken (the fact that there was a telephone in a 1988 student house is another story of God’s provision). I was home by 10.30. James was born at 12.20. During the seventy-five mile journey home I repeatedly questioned God. In my opinion this was the worst day for the baby to be born. But it wasn’t. It was the only day for the baby to be born. I returned to my student house in the evening and went straight to bed. I set the alarm for 04.00 and got up to revise my formulae. Then I sat the examination and flew through it. Then I went home for the weekend.
If James had been born really early I could never have revised because my mind would have been elsewhere. If James had been born after my examinations I would never have focused on the examinations for worry that a call would come. The only day James could have been born was the day that he was born. God knew. I didn’t.