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Vol. XIX No. 15
9 January 2022

SOVEREIGNTY AND PROVIDENCE

Here are a couple of encouraging testimonies of God’s sovereignty and providence:

“Man’s disappointment becomes God’s appointment”
Rev Dr Timothy Tow

Mother, my beloved Mother, who gave me to the Lord, had contracted influenza for a short five days. On the fifth night, she suddenly departed in the presence of Father and Sister, who were attending to her illness. When asked by bosom friends in the Lord what she had to say to her children, she said, “Tell them to serve the Lord with all their heart.” Saying this she exclaimed, “Angels have come to receive me. I can hear piano music, I can hear piano...” and at that she closed her eyes forever. (Yes, Mother loved music, and best of all the piano. She had bought a piano as soon as Father could afford it and she got all her children to learn pianoforte during the Japanese occupation when there was no other subject to study save Nippon-go.)

Mother’s passing at her prime of fifty-five came like a bombshell not only to all of the Tow Clan, but also to the whole church. Father spent many days lamenting her, but strange to say, I was little affected. Though I had sorrowed with the whole family, because I was all booked for London, my heart had become hardened. “Mother’s going to heaven before me was a matter of course. As for me, why, I must go and conquer the world!” So persevered grimly I myself within, but I was far from the Lord.

By now the cargo boat on which I was booked had sailed. And in view of the fact that the school term in England would not start until the Fall, i.e., September, Father was in no hurry to let me go. (About this time Mr. Lee Kuan Yew was also applying to Middle Temple. He managed to get a berth in a British troopship which brought him to London in October, one month late.) So I stayed behind to keep him company while Nancy and children returned to Singapore instead. Since I had resigned from the Supreme Court and London was far away, I was caught on the horns of a dilemma. I was obliged to help Father again as dispenser, while marking time.

Mother died on March 9, 1946. Five weeks later I received another telegram, this time from my wife in Singapore! “Baby Lilyn in hospital. Operation today. Come immediately.” Taking leave of Father the early morning I received the shocking news, for Lilyn was only seven months old, I left for Singapore by express taxi without delay. Arriving back in Tiong Bahru, I proceeded to take the bicycle out of the stairway. As I bent to clip my trousers, a procedure needed in cycling, a vial of Erasmic perfume I had brought for Baby slid out of my shirt pocket, and crash! It broke in pieces, spilling the fragrant drops on the ground. “Ahhh!” Did I believe this to be another bad omen? I surely do! But I am not superstitious.

At the Kandang Kerbau Hospital, as I entered the Babies Ward, I saw the grim spectacle of Nancy becoming hysterical. In a torrent of tears, she kept pinching Baby’s cheek, in an effort as if to bring her back to life. Baby had been operated on some hours before for intussusception of the intestines. As the Lord would have it, there was no way the surgeon could bring her round. Second Uncle’s wife and Siang Hwa stood around in sombre mood. I, who was adamant as rock all this while, readying myself to resume my London journey, suddenly wilted. “Man’s life’s like morning dew”, that old Chinese adage melted my heart. In the twinkling of an eye, I felt a fainting sensation and an overwhelming darkness. I felt all defeated and shattered. I was like the rich young ruler in the Bible story who went away from Jesus sorrowful. I felt like being relieved of five hundred thousand dollars from each hand, now cold and clammy. I saw myself passing out of this world. All the glories of fame and power that I was seeking after became a smouldering rubbish heap to a dying man. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). Then began I to pray with faint trembling lips, “Lord, save my soul. If you will give me back my life, I will serve you forever. Amen.”

Suddenly, my pale face and limp body slumped in an armchair, returned to life. As I drank a cup of rabbit soup Second Uncle’s wife had brought, I brightened. I shone like a new bulb switched on. I said to Nancy and to all around, “Praise the Lord, I’m not going to London. I am now returned to serve the Lord.” (Son of a Mother’s Vow, pp107–9)

I remembered Mother’s vow on me her Samuel to serve God as a pastor. I remembered my own vow to the Lord after I was saved in the great Singapore Revival of 1935. I gave my heart anew to the Lord. Instead of London, it was Nanking. Instead of Law, now Theology.

Now, when I yielded to God, His good plan for my life began to work. From Nanking He led me to the States. As I sailed into New York Harbour in the heavy winter of January 1948 the words of Mother, “If you will study to be a pastor, I will send you to America” rang like a bell in my ears…. I’ve found my life-ministry. Without the failure at Raffles College, without the double deaths after WWII, I would have failed more miserably going my own way. But when God turned me around to walk in His Plan, a better plan than mine, I am today what I am entirely by His appointment. Indeed, man’s disappointment becomes God’s appointment. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). (Has God a Plan for Your Life, pp16–7)

“This is the way, walk in it”
Mrs Norma Whitcomb

Dr. John C. Whitcomb had been a professor at Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana for nineteen years. My husband and I had been missionaries in the Philippines for eleven years. We came to the States intending to spend two years earning advanced degrees after which we would return to our teaching ministry at Far Eastern Bible Institute and Seminary.

After my husband’s sudden death, I moved to Kansas to teach and wait for God’s timing to return to the Philippines. How was it possible for a professor in Indiana and a teacher in Kansas to get together? No, we did not go to the Web. God’s ways are more reliable than that. Furthermore, there was no thought of remarriage in my plan. God warns us against “I wills” (Luke 12:18). Rather, He examples to us by His own words, “Not my will, but Thine be done”. He has unimaginable rewards for His obedient followers. My nut-shell story follows. There will be “fill-ins” in future “Windows for Women.”

The day that I completed my MA in Science degree in Kansas, I boarded the train for Winona Lake, Indiana, to counsel in a summer youth camp for two weeks. When I arrived, the director apologized that she had neglected to inform me that the camp had been cancelled due to low enrollment. The next day Dr. Whitcomb, the professor whom my husband had highly admired, contacted me to say that he heard that I was in Winona Lake and would like to see me. That baffled me, since I had never formally met him. I accepted his plan to accompany him for a couple of hours on a “jaunt to do errands”.

After driving a short distance, Dr. Whitcomb said, “I have some matters that I would like to talk about”. That was not surprising. Since he was the one who informed me of my husband’s sudden death, I thought he wanted to share his sorrow over his wife’s death that had happened since that time. [Mrs Edisene Whitcomb had died in June 1970 of a rare liver disease.] JEHOVAH-RAAH, our Shepherd, was leading us into green pastures. Dr. Whitcomb had other serious matters to discuss while we drove along in his big blue station wagon, especially since he knew nothing about me nor my plans after moving back to Kansas. He asked me nothing about my past, present or future, but went right to the point. “Senie [his wife] was ill for so many years. There were times when we thought the doctors had found a cure for her. When it was obvious that the Lord was going to take her home, she told me that she would like you to be the mother of our four children.”!!!

No, I was not dreaming. It was all very real. We drove along and he continued to talk. On the outside I appeared calm, cool and collected. On the inside I was in shock. How do I know? Because my mouth went so dry that I could not talk, and when a woman can’t talk, she must be in shock. I had one piece of gum in my purse which I halved to share with him. He put his piece into his pocket. After chewing a bit I was able to talk. Not a word of our conversation do I remember except, “I’ll try”, meaning, I’ll try to be the mother of your children!

As we conversed for a couple of hours over a Chinese meal, it began to dawn on me that this man had proposed to me and that I had said, “Yes”. I was engaged! That really did not confuse or distress me. You see, several months earlier, God had spoken from His heart to mine. No visions. No voice. Just a calm assurance from His Word that He would continue to guide me. My JEHOVAH-SHALOM gave me peace that passes all understanding – just as He has promised all through His precious Word. “This is the way, walk in it.” On that assurance I said, “Yes”.

On January 1st, 1971, my sixteen-year-old son, Dan, walked down the aisle to give me as wife to Dr. John C. Whitcomb. When asked, “Who gives this woman to this man?” my son replied, “My brother and I.” That night, our lonesome threesome became a bustling household of eight. I do mean bustling! The ages of those in our quiver were 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16. Our home mission field.

[Taken from “A Window for Women” http://windowforwomen.blogspot.com. Dr John Whitcomb was called home to the Lord on February 5, 2020 at the age of 95. Mrs Norma Whitcomb just went home on December 12, 2021 aged 98. I was privileged to have been Dr Whitcomb’s student at Grace Theological Seminary, 1989–90. Both Dr & Mrs Whitcomb ministered to us here in Singapore in the 1990s, speaking in our church camps. May God in His providence raise up more servants like them. JK]

“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.” (Prov 18:22)

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