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Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth joins her husband, Robert Wolgemuth, to share their love story.
Bob: When was the last time you heard a sermon about, or for that matter, the last time you really thought much about God's providence? Here's Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.
Nancy: A hundred years ago, the word was used a lot in literature; two hundred years ago, it was used more. Today, hardly at all; but it's a word we need to bring back. It is a beautiful word—Providence: “God's provision for us in every moment and circumstance of our life.” With the word—“pro”: ‘before”; and “video”: “to see”—here's a God, who sees what's happening before we even get there, and He goes ahead of us to make provision for what we're going to need when we do get there.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, January 6th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You can find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. If we have a God who can see the future, and who goes before us to make provision for us, can't we trust Him in every aspect of our lives? We're going to talk more about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. Before we introduce our guests today and say, “Hi,” to Robert and Nancy—and we're excited about having them here and talking to them—but we're also excited and want to let our listeners know about something that is brand-new. Here, in the first part of January, I know a lot of people are thinking about starting up their small groups again after the holidays.
You guys [Dave and Ann] have just completed work on a new small group video series that's taken from your book, Vertical Marriage.
Dave: We are so excited!
Ann: Yes, we're really excited to launch this.
Dave: I mean, who would have dreamt that, out of the book, would come a small group video-based teaching? This is something that I think can change lives; because when you talk about your marriage with other couples, things happen. First of all, you get in a room and you're like: “Oh, they're like us! Our struggle isn't unique.” You also hear victory stories—you’re like, “I want that.” So, there's something unique that happens when you talk about your marriage with others.
Ann: I think we've had more marriage- and life-change in the community of others than alone at times. There's something about it that spurs us on—there's accountability: people are asking, “How did your homework go?” That really has changed us.
Bob: Well, the video series is now available. You can go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, for more information on how you can get the Vertical Marriage small group video series—five sessions with Dave and Ann Wilson. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for all the details.
Congratulations! We're excited to be helping launch this with you guys.
Dave: Thank you.
Bob: Now, if we were to go back and look at the letters from the founding of our country,
you will often hear people—
Dave: Wait, wait, wait, Bob. Have you been doing this like recently?
Bob: I have; no, but I like American history.
Ann: Me, too.
Bob: I like to read about the founders. They will often use another word for God; they are talking about God's hand being on everything God's directing. Instead of calling Him God, do you know what they call Him?—Providence. It's like another name for God. They will say that “Providence has done this,” and “Providence has done that.”
I think a lot of us have lost sight of that aspect of the character of God—that He is superintending/He's caring for everything. Even in the midst of the chaos that we're going through, God's there; and He's in control of our lives.
Dave: Is that your definition of providence?
Bob: I don't know if I have a formal definition of providence.
Dave: I do!
Dave: I do; we're going to find out later what it is, because I read it in a book of the guests we have in the studio.
Bob: Well, why don't you introduce the guests we've got?
Dave: We've got Robert and Nancy Wolgemuth with us today. It's a joy for me and Ann—Ann and I to have you guys in the studio.
Robert: Thank you.
Dave: You are more than authors and radio hosts; you are dear friends.
Robert: Thank you; we feel the same way.
Bob: Robert and Nancy, as most of our listeners know, are authors. Nancy hosts the daily radio program, Revive Our Hearts. Independently, you've written 20-plus books each.
Bob: And this is the first time you've collaborated on a book.
Robert: It is; we waited until we were married for three years before we started on the project. You're in marriage ministry—you get that.
Nancy: We recommend waiting. [Laughter]
Bob: Really, the genesis of this book, which is called, You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, comes out of your marriage experience, where you were looking at all of the different dynamics that went into God bringing the two of you together, and saying, “This would not have been the story we would have written”; right?
Robert: The book—let me just say this—I'll answer that question. The book is a lot more than just our story; but starting there, we actually celebrate months. Every 14th of every month—I'm not kidding; Hallmark® loves us—[Laughter]—we celebrate an anniversary. I'm serious; and it's great.
Bob: Many of our listeners have heard your story—you've shared it with FamilyLife Today listeners before. Nancy, you were contentedly single until you were 57 years old?
Nancy: That's right. Nancy Leigh DeMoss is the name more people may remember from the past—just loving serving the Lord: doing ministry, being involved in other people's families, but never thinking that marriage was what God had in His story for my life.
This was a huge surprise when this, then widower, came into the picture; and God started to write a whole new chapter in our lives. I really loved where God had me for all of those years, and I love where He has me now—I want to be quick to say that—it's just a new season and a very sweet one.
Robert: —just confirming that—on May 2nd, 2015, when I asked Nancy to marry me, I said, “Will you marry me?” and you said—
Nancy: —“With all my heart.”
Robert: Youdid. She was, not reluctantly, but really embracing fully, God's leading in her life, as a single woman.
Bob: You had never imagined that you would, in your late 60s, be a widower.
Robert: Boy; you know, when you first get married, you have the conversation with your mate: “What happens when one of us goes? Is the other open to getting remarried?” We did have that conversation—this is Bobbie—we married in 1970. What she said was, “I really, really hope I go first; because I don't want to have to face life as a single person.”
She was diagnosed in February of 2012 with stage 4 ovarian cancer, and so we faced the reality of that happening; although, she fought like crazy. But then, as we got closer and realized that all this chemo and so-forth—barbaric as it is—Bobbie was not going to be able to make it.
She took two friends aside—two separate friends—one that didn't know the Lord at all; so when Bobbie said, “I want Robert to marry Nancy Leigh DeMoss,” she had no idea who that was. The other person, interestingly enough, is Dave and Ann's daughter-in-law; she and Bobbie were very close. Bobbie told Kendall, “I want Robert to marry Nancy Leigh DeMoss.”
It's interesting—because a couple of months after Nancy and I were dating, Austin, Dave and Ann's son, came to the office—we work together. He said, “Have you talked to Kendall?” And I said, “Like, about what?” I was getting ready to get on an airplane. He said, “I think you need to get ahold of her.” I texted from the sky—I texted Kendall. I said, “Do you have something to tell me?” And she said, “Yes, I do.” She told me that Bobbie had told her that she “wants Robert to marry Nancy Leigh DeMoss.”
Nancy: —which Bobbie had never told you.
Robert: Bobbie had never told me.
Bob: I want to go back though, to the time when you realized, Robert: “I'm going to be a widower. My wife's not going to make it unless God does something amazing.” You had to trust God, in that moment, that the story He was writing for you was a good story; because that does not seem like a good story when you're in a doctor's office, and he says she's not responding to this cancer treatment.
Robert: You're absolutely right. When you have children, you don't do that alone, either.
They are very much a part of this unfolding. I hadn't planned on being a widower, and my daughters hadn't planned on not having a mom; they were very, very close to Bobbie. We went through it together.
The great joy is telling this story—Nancy and I have told this story since soon after we got married—it's been such a great entre to the gospel, because the gospel story is God's surprising us with grace we couldn't imagine. That's simply what this story is.
Bob: Did you or your daughters, in the midst of the diagnoses and all that was going on with Bobbie, did you ever have a crisis of faith and wonder about the goodness of God in the midst of the adversity?
Robert: I would say, “No.” Let me just say that I don't remember having that. Why?—because of Bobbie's attitude; I took her attitude about this. In fact, moments after we got the news that she was stage 4 ovarian, we got one of my daughters on the phone. The other one was sitting there with me. This just came to me, but this was straight from Bobbie's faith—I said: “We're not angry; we're not afraid. We're going to receive this as a gift, and what we really want most is that the Lord be glorified in this.” That came directly out of Bobbie's heart—that's who she was. My attitude was a reflection of who she was.
Ann: This story is so close to our heart because our son and daughter-in-law, Austin and Kendall, were not only working for you guys, but basically neighbors. And they love you, and you were mentoring them. I think for Austin and Kendall, this was a pivotal point in their spiritual lives; because they watched you. They watched you grieve; they watched you love each other; and they loved Bobbie and you so much.
To watch Bobbie's attitude of praising God in the midst of not knowing what the ending would be, whether God would heal her here or God would heal her in heaven. But to watch you guys and your trust in God in the future—your future, and your kids' future, and your grandkids—was pivotal for them, personally/spiritually.
And for Dave and [me], we want to thank you; because I think that no one could have modeled that better.
Nancy: For so many of us, our ability to trust God in those hard places is the result of seeing someone—a parent, a model, a mentor—who, not only theologically speaks about God's providence and God's goodness, but who lives it out.
For me, the first really painful moment of my experience, on the weekend of my 21st birthday—getting the news that my dad, who I had been with just a few hours earlier, and then he had put me on a plane to go to Virginia, where I was working—I landed in Virginia; got the call from my mother that my dad had a heart attack and was gone, instantly. There was a lot of sense of loss, and grief, and sorrow; and that was a painful loss in that moment and for a long time to come.
But the fact that I had grown up, for those 21 years, with a dad and a mom, who really knew God—and who I had watched trust God, themselves, in very hard places that they had walked through with their business/with the loss of a home in a fire just a few years earlier; to watch them trust God, when God was writing a script that seemed so strange/so off-course—so, in the moment that I got the news about my dad, his faith and what he had taught me about who God is, is what kicked in to be an underpinning for my heart and my emotions.
The first conscious thought I had in that moment, when I got that call—and I know this may seem strange—but it was a verse from Psalm 119, [verse 68]: “God is good and does good.” I knew that verse——but I'd had all these years, a dad and a mom, who, when the bottom was falling out of their lives, I had watched them really trust God to write their story—in that moment, that faith of theirs became mine. I found out, for myself, you really can trust God to write your story.
Dave: I remember walking into your house in Orlando, Robert, when you guys were in the midst of the struggle with Bobbie and the cancer diagnosis. I can remember walking in with Austin and Kendall and feeling this sense in your home—it was almost like an aroma—we talked about it—of peace/contentment.
You never know what you're going to walk into when somebody's in the middle of a valley. You expect chaos; you expect anger—and I'm not saying that you didn't have any of that—but it doesn't sound like you did. It was a real peace, not knowing at that moment, that our son and daughter-in-law were going to have to go through their own valley—and having this testimony that they watched be the gird for them as they walked through it.
Let me ask you this—because it's so obvious, and we've talked about it a couple of times—this word, “providence”—define that—because it's obvious, in both your stories, there is this belief that is the foundation of why you're able to handle adversity like you have. Talk about God’s providence.
Nancy: It’s such a great word, and it's pretty old-fashioned; you don't hear it much anymore. In fact, I did some research—about a hundred years ago, the word was used a lot in literature; two hundred years ago, it was used more. Today, hardly at all; but it's a word we need to bring back.
It is a beautiful word: “Provide,” “Providence”—“God's provision for us in every moment and circumstances of our lives. But the word, “pro”: “before”; and “video”: “to see”—here's a God, who sees what's happening before we even get there, and He goes ahead of us to make provision for what we're going to need when we do get there.
These circumstances in life that catch us off guard/that surprise us—there's never that moment of “Oops!” or “I didn't plan for that,” in heaven. We have that down here. We have a Father/a heavenly Father, who has been there; He's looked ahead—He's writing a story. He knows, not only the chapter and the page I'm on at the moment, but He knows where it's all going; and He's already made provision for us when we get there.
Bob: Think of Psalm 23, where David does not say, “You will keep me out of the valley of the shadow of death”; but he says, “Though I walk through it, You're with me and You brought along a rod and a staff to comfort me.”
Nancy: —“so I will fear no evil,”—not because there aren't evil things around us or even happening to us at times—but there's no fear. We don't have to be afraid. Now, if I'm going to trust myself, and my own wits, and my own plan, then I ought to be fearful.
If I really do believe that there's a God, who knows what's going on, and who is always working—I love this John Piper quote: “In every situation of our lives, God is always doing a thousand different things that we cannot see and we do not know.”
Ann: When people come up to you—and I'm sure you guys have both had this—and they say: “Why would God take your dad?” “Why would God take your wife?” “Who can serve a God that would do that?”—how do you respond to that?
Robert: The most important word on the cover of this book is “Trust.” So, Dave's on a business trip—lots of opportunities to be unfaithful to you. Why aren't you lying awake at night?—because you trust him. Even greater, we have a God, who created us with the sound of His voice; and we can trust Him.
We talk about the windshield is: “Trusting God to write our story.” The rear view mirror is: “What we've seen that He's already done.” We have a great deal of experience with situations we couldn't figure out and didn't like; but looking back, we say, “Oh, if this hadn't happened, then that would never have happened.” We don't know; He's omniscient.
Sometimes, we pray and we say, “Lord Jesus, we're facing this challenge,”—whatever—“You've already been to tomorrow.” God is not limited by time; that's something we can't get our minds around; right? He's already been to tomorrow; so when I say, “I trust You,” it's because He already knows what's going to happen, and He knows what's best for me.
I love the image of God, my Father, taking good care of His kids. We often say: “You take good care of your own”; and He does. That doesn't mean that it's all going to be sweet, and light, and sugary; it could be really tough.
You're an athlete, Dave, you understand the rigors of the locker room and of the training room. Why do you do that? In fact, Bill Bates played for Tennessee; and he went to the Cowboys on special teams. I got to know Bill—loved Jesus; a really special man. He said, “I work out three or four hours every day, six days a week, all year around.” I said, “Why?!” and he said: “To survive. You can't control the future; so when it happens, you're in good shape.”
Now, in this situation/in our walk with Christ, our discipline is to spend time in the Word; our discipline is to spend time on our knees; our discipline is to tell people about Jesus and to invite them to come to Him, by way of an amazing gospel. It's all part of the training room.
Bob: Part of the trust you're talking about—and Nancy, you've heard me go to this passage many times: it's in 2 Corinthians, Chapter 4—where Paul, who had been through a lot of pain/a lot of suffering—read what he writes about in 2 Corinthians 11 about the shipwrecks and the beatings and all of that—Paul looks at that pain and that suffering in his life and he says, “These are light and momentary afflictions.”
We can sometimes say that and somebody goes, “But you don't know what I'm going through.” And I say, “Look what Paul went through, and he calls his own experience ‘light and momentary afflictions that are producing in us an eternal weight of glory.’” So, even in the pain and the suffering, God is at work to do something that is going to be glorious. It may be in the next life that we see the glory, not in this life that we see it; but we trust God, that what He's doing is for our good and for His glory.
Robert: Let me just revisit one thing that you asked about—if I ever had envisioned myself being in this situation. After the funeral/after Bobbie's funeral—in fact, the cemetery was just a block from our home—I went back that night by myself. The place was completely empty; I was the only one there.
I can't tell you how awful it felt to stand there and to think, “This was not what I thought was going to happen.” I loved marriage; I loved being married to Bobbie. She was a great companion; she was an amazing mom. I'm thinking: “What am I going to do? My kids live in the Carolinas; I'm in Orlando. What am I going to do?” It didn't last very long, gratefully; but there was a moment I'll never, ever forget, standing there, looking at that pile of beautiful flowers, thinking: “What am I going to do? This is not my idea of what life should have turned out to be.”
Again, in retrospect, I’m thinking, “I wouldn't be sitting here,”—the Lord knew exactly what He was doing, and He gave me time. This wasn't like: “Snap to! Here we go. We're going to get—here's the next plan.” He gave me time to soak in this, and to grieve, and to see His hand, as He moved me toward the future.
Bob: You mentioned that the book you've written, You Can Trust God to Write Your Story is not all about your story. It's the starting point; but then you've gone and collected many stories of people, who have learned how to trust in God's providence and have seen God bring beauty from ashes.
I don't know how many people I've talked to and I’ve said, “Robert and Nancy have written this new book, You Can Trust God to Write Your Story and they're like, 'I need that book,'” because they're in the middle of the dark night of the soul or the valley of the shadow, and they're going: “I don't sense God's presence. I don't see His goodness in this. It's hard to trust.”
Not only these stories, but the teaching that goes along with it, I think is going to bring a lot of comfort to a lot of souls. We've got copies of the book, You Can Trust God to Write Your Story in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order the book from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call to order: 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the title of the book: You Can Trust God to Write Your Story: Embracing the Mysteries of Providence. Order, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call to order: 1-358-6329—that's 1-800-”F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
I know we mentioned this earlier, but there's also information online about the new video series from Dave and Ann Wilson, the Vertical Marriage small group series on video—five sessions. There's information about that online as well. If you've got a small group getting started back up, and you're looking for some great marriage content to go through, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and find out about the Vertical Marriage video series from Dave and Ann.
And then we've got something free we want to make available to you. All of this is because we want more people spending more time in God's Word in the new year. I know some of us have made resolutions about this, or we've gotten started on a Bible reading program for the new year. We talked with our friends at Logos Bible Software, because I'm a big fan; I use Logos software all the time. They have agreed to make available to FamilyLife Today listeners their Bible software platform and a library of more than $2000 worth of books: commentaries, and classics, and Bible reference tools. They're going to make all of that available to you, as a FamilyLife Today listener, for free.
All you have to do is go to FamilyLifeToday.com; click the link you find on our page, and you can download the Logos Bible Software system for your computer, for your mobile device, your phone, your tablet. Find out more; go to FamilyLifeToday.com, and click on the link to find out how you can download the Logos Bible Software system for free. And then, use this as a way to keep your resolutions going in 2020 and spend more time in God's Word. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information on how you can get the Logos Bible Software system for free.
I hope you can join us back, again, tomorrow. Robert and Nancy Wolgemuth are going to be here again. We're going to continue talking about God's providence and how we can trust in God's providence even when the storm clouds are in the skies, and there's lightning and thunder, and the earth is starting to tremble a little bit. We'll talk more about that tomorrow. I hope you can be with us for all that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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