One of the great surprises of getting older is the rapid reaching of milestones which, in my youth, I assumed meant a very great age (with earthly demise just around the corner). Yesterday, quietly in the Cathedral Refectory at Bury St. Edmund's, Carol and I reflected on that glorious summer day in 1968 when our marriage adventure began in Chatsworth Baptist Church, West Norwood, London.
One of our convictions that looking back we realize has held firm right through these years is just how much God was involved in bringing us together 11 months before we were married. It was truly a God-happening. It was at an International Student conference in Switzerland when Carol (recently orphaned) was chosen out of many applicants to be one of 6 representing Great Britain. However, I shouldn't have been there! Absolutely no way. But, having just taken a job in London working with students I learned that my boss had been rushed into hospital with peritonitis and I was immediately catapulted into not only leading the British contingent by ferry and train to Zurich, but also chairing the conference and preaching a keynote sermon. I had great trouble finding my passport that I had only used once before, let alone preparing for what turned out to be a fairly demanding conference (- especially with a vociferous Marxist Italian main speaker!) Yet, instantly for me (though not for Carol....why was that?) as the group assembled at Victoria Railway Station under the clock I knew that Carol was the girl for me. Oh, yeah!
We thought yesterday about the poor man Peter Tongeman whose peritonitis led to my good fortune. He was happily present at our wedding but it remains one of the great mysteries and wonders how much God uses the twists and turns of lives to weave together his purposes. We give profound thanks that we see ourselves, actually can only really interpret all that has happened since, in terms of God working his purpose out. So, with surprise and joy we say, Thank you Lord.