I have a box full of old love letters written to my father by my mother in the late 1930's. It is interesting to read these letters because they reveal a great deal about my mother's character and personality. She was a very idealistic young Christian. On June 14th 1939 this is what she wrote to her fiancee who was waiting to be called to the pastorate of a Grace Baptist church: I am always praying that I may be true to Him and may thus be consistent in my living. I am looking forward eagerly to a life shared with you, in serving Him wholly and may I help you in this wonderful privilege. This was a statement of intent. From the very beginning my mother intended to help my father in his work as a Baptist pastor. She did. It did not turn out to be as my mother expected. She had some bitter disappointments and many tears were shed. However year in and year out she assisted my father in the work of the ministry. I believe her statement of intent helped her to do this. I think it pleased God and he supported her in it.

When I was nineteen I sat in a room before three eminent Geographers: Professor Darby, Dr Mead and Dr Brown of University College London. I was being interviewed for admittance to that fine institution. They had clearly made up their minds to accept me and were very much on my side. Then the Welshman, Professor Darby, who I expect had a nonconformist upbringing, said, "Why aren't you going into the church?"

I had my reply ready, "I have seen how the Lord's people support the Lord's servant and I would rather support myself."

Those three eminent academics laughed loudly at that and the subject was changed. It was my statement of intent. I don't think God was pleased. He has held me to it. I have supported myself but opportunities to teach and preach from God's Word have been limited.

In my story about Old Wilky I described how I took my sick father to his surgery and the shocked expression on his face as he watched my father rise to his feet. In that instant he accurately diagnosed my father's illness. After he had examined my father he invited me into his consulting room to have a few words in private. Dr Wilkerson told me the bad news, "Your father has Parkinson's disease."

I looked at that concerned rather flushed face and said, "Well we are Christians, God will help us through.

The doctor shook his head sadly and just said, "It is a hell of a complaint."

However, I had made my statement of intent - God would help us through. Never a day passed for the next eighteen years that I did not pray for my father. For the last four of those years my father and I travelled the mean streets of his debilitating illness together. God honoured my statement of intent and he helped us through.

A statement of good intent is of very great importance. That is really what the marriage vows are. Believer's baptism, too, is a public statement on the part of the person being baptised that they intend to follow Jesus. It is important to make it because God helps us to honour it.