Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Margaret Nyman is asking the Lord to use her in her current season of life.

Margaret Nyman: He’s called me into widowhood. That may sound strange, but I look at as a calling. It’s a calling on my life for this season. I don’t want to just sit and wait to be called to heaven. No . . . I know God has plans for me in the meantime, and I’m trying to listen carefully to what those are.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for Friday, March 2, 2018.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I’ve so enjoyed these last several days, talking with Margaret Nyman . . . whom I’ve known a little bit over many years, but have had a chance to get better acquainted with more recently. I’m so thankful that she has written a book that is available called Hope for an Aching Heart. It’s a book of uplifting, encouraging, practical devotions for widows.

As we’ve been saying all week, it’s a great book for widows, but also, I think it's a really helpful resource for those of us who may have widows around us, in our church or in our lives, and want to know how we can minister grace to them. It's also for any person going through grief or loss, how do you move forward? How do you not stay stuck emotionally in the past. There are just a lot of practical topics dealt with in this book. They’re short; they’re easy to read.

Margaret, you’re a great story teller, and you’re great with details. I think this book is going to be a real encouragement to a lot of our listeners. So thank you for writing it, and thank you for joining us these past several days on Revive Our Hearts.

As we wrap up this series, we’ve just been talking here in the studio. You’ve got a full heart and it’s sweet to see. I think at the point of a loss, there’s a sense of, “How will I go on? How will I have fullness again?” because you feel so emptied out.

But now I’m watching you, a little more than three years into this journey of widowhood, and I am seeing that God has replenished you and is using you to bless others, and yet Nate’s still very much a part of your life and your story. You were married for almost forty years. He’s the father of your seven children.

So there’s this going on, and yet not leaving behind all that was a part of your life in the past. Only God can make sense out of all of that, but I think He’s helped you do that beautifully. As you think about Nate—we’ve talked about several things that you’ve missed—is there anything else that you find yourself really missing about him now?

Margaret: I think the thing that I miss the very most is talking to him. I miss the back-and-forth over every decision I have to make by myself now. He and I did a lot of talking. I hear about a lot of husbands who don’t open up, but that wasn’t Nate. We talked over things about the children, of course, and crises that would come, and finances . . . every subject.

Of course, his opinion was always the opposite of mine; so we’d have to come to the middle—which is something you learn when you’ve been married a long time. The sparks lessen, and it’s more of a quick coming to the middle.

Now when I come to the middle, nobody’s there. I don’t know what the middle is. It’s been a process of trying to learn to make decisions on my own, or to find other wise counsel, which we can find if we look for it, to help make decisions that I used to make with him. But I always miss the opinion he would give me, which was always different than mine.

My opinion was more—I don’t know if the right word is inflammatory—wild and crazy might be the right words. His was more stable, more logical, more practical. We needed each other, and coming toward the middle was a good thing for the both of us to need to do. That’s the part I miss about him more than anything else; I just can’t talk to him.

I’ve only had two vivid dreams about my husband. I know some women go to bed every night with that wish on their minds. “Oh, maybe tonight I can have my visit in a dream. Oh, please, Lord . . .” I get that because it’s meaningful. It’s torture in a way, because you have to wake up. In both of the dreams, the frustration was that we couldn’t have more time to talk. That showed me what I was craving in my deepest heart . . . to talk to him.

I believe what Scripture says about heaven is true—that we’ll be reunited with our loved ones. Jesus, of course, is the one we want to find and run to and fall in front of . . . but reunited with our loved ones, too. I know I’m going to get unlimited time to talk to Nate—not as my husband necessarily, but as a brother in Christ, really.

I’m looking forward to that so much. And others, too, as you are—my folks and others we love who have gone on ahead. That’s the reality; that’s the joy of heaven, that’s the fun of thinking about heaven. But, that’s what I miss the most about him.

Nancy: Do you find yourself talking more to the Lord about some of those things?

Margaret: Yes. One of my kids gave me C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed right after Nate passed away, and I read through that. It was a journal that he kept that he never intended to have published, but he finally eventually agreed to that.

Nancy: After the loss of his wife.

Margaret: After the loss of his wife, Joy. He talked about talking to God about all of this, especially about where she was and what she was doing and wanting to talk to her. He was wondering if he could talk to Jesus to talk to her for him, and all those things.

Those things are on the minds of all of us . . . if only, if only. There’s this gap that we can’t bridge. We can’t get there. We have to just trust the Lord to now be to us what our mates were to us. That is what I have found. I love that verse in Isaiah 54 where God says, “I am your Maker, and I will now be your husband. [Don’t worry about being a widow; don’t let it shame you or anything like that. I’m going to be there for you.]”

And, oh, has He been there for me! In absolutely every way, He’s been there for me! I can’t see or touch Him, but it’s almost palpable sometimes that He is with me. I sense it so strongly, and He has certainly come through with Nate’s opinion to bring me to the “middle,” many, many times.

So, He’s the one I talk to now, and He wants us to do that. He’s listening, and He’ll respond.

Nancy: I often say to women, anything that makes us need God is a blessing. Not that death or widowhood is inherently a blessing, but that God uses and works through even these things that are in this fallen world that are not as God originally intended. Even through those hard things, those painful things, those bad things, God works to bring blessing to our lives.

I think embracing that is part of the journey of wholeness and sanctification. God’s fitting us for heaven, too, and He uses those hard things as part of that process.

I appreciated something you said as we were talking before this session. You said that God prepares us for what is coming if we ask Him to. How have you seen God do that for you?

Margaret: We lived in the Chicago area for our whole marriage, and I was born and raised there. We had a little cottage over in Michigan that we just used in the summer, here and there, with our children and cousins and my sisters.

Nancy: The other side of the “pond . . .” I like our Michigan side of the lake, because we see sunsets. Chicago sees sunrises, but I’m more into sunsets—so welcome to Michigan.

Margaret: Me, too. We had talked about maybe someday retiring there and fixing up the house. Then we went through a financial struggle, and we thought maybe selling our big, old hundred-year farmhouse (we had raised our seven kids there). Then on top of that came Nate’s back issues and all these things.

We thought that maybe it was time to contract our life, bring it down—we were in our sixties. It might be the time to, as the kids would say, “smaller-ize” everything. We began thinking we should put our house on the market. Well, of course, it was a terrible real estate market.

It took four years for our house to sell, but God’s timing was in that because our last child graduated from high school—the same high school they all went to—that year, the year that it sold. So instead of me buying a smaller place in the Chicago area, which was our original plan, we ended up just doing the retirement thing, although he wasn’t going to retire.

There’s a commuter train that goes around the southern end of Lake Michigan, right into the Chicago loop, that would drop him off two blocks from his office. We thought, Well, let’s try that. So we moved on June 10 of 2009, and we discovered his cancer in September of that year.

It was the week I had unpacked the last boxes, and when you’re contracting a large house down into a small cottage that’s already full, that’s a job. It was, get rid of, get rid of. We had finally concluded that process, and then we found out that Nate was sick. Forty-two days later, he passed away.

And there I was, in Michigan! My home church, my girlfriends, my relatives—everybody—was back in Chicago. Everyone was saying, “Well, you’re going to move back aren’t you? You’re going to put your house up for sale or something.”

I said, “Well, you know what they say—you shouldn’t do anything for a year; so, I’m going to wait for a year and take a look at it.” So that’s what I did.

God used that year mightily in my life, to grieve. It was exactly where I should be. And now, I’ve decided to stay there. Life is changing all around me. I don’t want to go into all the details, but the point is, God sold our house exactly when it should have sold, even though it took four agonizing years of keeping the house clean day and night.

Then He put me in this little quiet, safe gem of a neighborhood, with loving neighbors on both sides—strong, believing Christians—exactly when He wanted us to be there. It was too coincidental otherwise. It had to be God. Since I’ve been in Michigan, a whole new beginning has opened up for me.

Widowhood is a new beginning. God wants to make us fruitful every single day that we’re on the earth. He has plans for us. Scripture tells us we will be fruitful into our old age, and He will help us with that, if we’re open to that.

Nancy: I want to talk about that fruitfulness in just a moment, but let me just circle back to this thing of God’s provision. As you look back on those stories: like how God sold your house at the right time, or moved you to Michigan not knowing that weeks later you would be burying your husband. As you look back on God’s providence—and what does providence mean? It means God sees ahead, and He makes provision for the future that we can’t see. I love living under providence. Doesn’t God's providence give you greater confidence and faith as you look to the years ahead, where you still can’t see and you don’t know how it’s all going to unfold. Things like what our health will be like, what season-of-life changes we’ll experience, but you know that God has provided in the past.

I know, for me, it gives greater confidence that He will provide for whatever He knows is yet to come.

Margaret: That’s very true. I think each incident like that knits you together with Him, gives you more confidence, a greater trust—to trust Him with what’s coming . . . to prepare us thoroughly. Even when we come up to something and think, Oh, dear! I’m not prepared for this. Oh! Oh, I don’t know!

My sister has a saying, “God doesn’t necessarily call the fully equipped. He equips the called.” So, He calls you into something. He’s called me into widowhood. That may sound strange, but I look at it as a calling. It’s the calling on my life for this season. He wouldn’t have done that unless there was a purpose for that.

He had one purpose for Nate, which was to pluck him away. I look at that as a tremendous blessing for Nate. He didn’t have to go through the agony . . . cancer aside. He had spine issues that were going to dictate the rest of his life with pain. He was going to end up in a wheelchair, had he lived. Look at the freedom he was given!

I’m resting in that for him. He was prepared for that, he was ready, and we saw that in the gracious way he accepted that he was going to die. But then over here to my calling—my calling is to widowhood, now. I don’t want to just sit and wait to be called to heaven. No . . . I know God has plans for me in the meantime, and I’m trying to listen carefully to what those are.

Nancy: You’re letting God make you fruitful in this season—not just pining for the season that is past. You’d be in a different season of life now anyway, because your children are all grown—so you have a very empty nest. That’s a change of season, with or without your mate, and then you add the loss of your Nate. You have allowed God to use the gifts He’s given you, to put burdens on your heart.

Share about how you’ve written a book now (you were writing before that), and that’s part of your fruitfulness right now.

Margaret: When I was a little girl, all I ever wanted to do was to be a writer. I started my first book when I was twelve. I never finished it, but it was in a little spiral notebook—I can see it in my mind’s eye. I wanted it to have a cast of characters, and I wanted to write a book.

Ever since I was in eighth grade, I have kept a journal. I have all of those journals in boxes—it’s kind of crazy. I love writing, even if it’s just writing to God or writing for myself. It has to come out of that pen. I love doing it more than eating—which is saying an awful lot—or anything else.

I’ve been journaling all these years. When my children were young, I’d keep an open notebook on the kitchen counter to jot things down. Eventually those morphed into small little articles that were published in Christian magazines . . . on parenting, mostly—things like that.

All my life I wanted to write a book. I started writing books about parenting and children and whatnot. Just the few times I ventured into writing letters, asking questions, seeing if someone would read it  . . . nothing ever came of it.

Through my blog, after Nate died, a publisher called me. It actually turned out to be a widow who had come on my blog site to gain encouragement for her own widowhood. Her husband had passed away a little before Nate did. That’s how the seed was planted for this devotional book.

She asked if I would ever be interested in putting any of it in a book, and I thought, I hear You, Lord! This was a full-circle moment for me. I had quit seeking writing a book, but my heart’s desire—which Proverbs talks about—God never forgot that, and He was going to give that to me.

Nancy: In due time . . .

Margaret: It was somewhat delayed from my plan at age twelve, because I was sixty-four, sixty-five when that was going on. But I want to encourage anybody that has a heart’s desire that just won’t click, that just doesn’t seem to fall into place like you want it to . . . much of our Christian walk is about waiting.

Much of life, for everyone—not just Christians—is about waiting for the right time: the right time to say something, the right time to start something, the right time to buy something. If we can just teach ourselves to wait and be patient . . . One of the fruits of the Spirit is patience.

Be patient! God will teach us, through His Spirit, to be patient. I cannot say I was patient about wanting to write a book. I was frustrated. But now, looking back, I can see that what God wanted me to write had to do with Nate, had to do with widowhood. It had to do with encouraging other widows.

It had nothing to do with what I was writing about before—maybe that will come up again, I don’t know. For now, the book about encouraging widows has meant everything to me in this season of my life. Writing about Nate, about my husband, has been an absolute pleasure for me.

Even when I write about the hard parts, it’s like visiting with him, to think about him, to look back and write about him. It’s kind of being with him and honoring him. I’ve enjoyed doing that, every minute. It was kind of a double blessing that God gave me while I was writing . . . to be able to focus on him while at the same time to be thinking of other widows whom I’ve been praying for since before the book started.

I’ve had twenty-something of my wonderful praying friends praying for widows who will read this book, who may not even know they’re going to be widows by the time the book gets in their hands—but God knows. My friends and I have been praying for them, that they would get encouragement through the pages of this little devotional.

So that’s how God works—He prepares us step-by-step. When the time is right, all the details fall into place—bing, bing, bing, bing, bing!

Nancy: Then you don’t spend your life trying to make things happen, trying to manipulate. Because you could have written a book sooner. You can pretty much get anything you want if you want it badly enough. But I think when we push to make something happen, when we force it before it’s time, it’s not ripe fruit.

It’s not as satisfying as when we know that God has orchestrated this and put it together. As you’re sharing, I’m thinking about that familiar passage in Ecclesiastes 3 that says, “To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (v. 1). And the first one is a time to be born and a time to die.

We’ve been talking about that time to die this week. For our lives as women, I think this is so important, to trust God with the seasons. I’m now experiencing the fulfillment in my life of some desires that God put on my heart when I was a little girl.

To look back, now, and see the beauty . . . He makes everything beautiful in His time, in His way. There’s a lot of joy and freedom that comes from waiting for Him . . . not chafing against the season or the time, but embracing it, and then being willing, as you say, to wait patiently for things that are not yet His time for us.

I’m so thankful for the way that God is using you in this time, to have written the book you’ve written now, Hope for an Aching Heart. You couldn’t have written it when you were twelve or twenty-two or thirty-two—because you had to have the aching heart first, in a way that you didn’t have back then.

Margaret: That’s true.

Nancy: You’ve experienced hope now in ways that are richer and deeper and fuller than you did as a younger woman. So thank you for not only waiting for His time, but also for—when it was His time—writing this book, Hope for an Aching Heart. I know it’s going to minister a lot of grace to a lot of women who’ve been listening to our conversation this week.

I wonder, as we wrap up this time, you mentioned praying for widows. I wonder if you would just pray for widows who are listening right now to this program, if you would just pray for God’s grace and encouragement and peace in their hearts. Just lift them up, if you would, to God’s throne of grace.

I invite you, if you’re listening and in this season of life today, that you would just let God’s grace wash over you, even as Margaret prays this prayer for you.

Margaret: Father in heaven, we are blown away by the fact that You will listen to our prayers. Thank You for the fruit that You desire in each life. I love what Nancy said, when You do it, the fruit is fully ripened and tastes good! Lord, thank You for that, that You have a plan for widows to have a new beginning that would be filled with your blessing, that would be full of new things, with new beginnings, and that You are going to take them through.

You will equip them when they get there. You’ve already been down the road ahead of them to light the path for them when they get there. Be the foundation beneath us, take us under Your wings. Be all over us, especially widows. You single us out and say how very important it is to Your heart to take care of us in all ways, Lord.

I pray for each widow listening to this program, that You will bring the helpers to them that they need, that You will surround them with care and love, and that You will give them comfort and love when they grieve for their men. Thank You for Your Word that encourages and nourishes us always, every day.

We thank You for all the blessings You bring to us. Even in our grief You bless us. Thank you for covering all the bases. We love You with our whole heart. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Leslie:  That’s Margaret Nyman. The Lord has been teaching her a lot over the past few years, through widowhood. Her insights are helpful to all of us, no matter what struggle we’re facing. Margaret will encourage you through a book she’s written called Hope for an Aching Heart: Uplifting Devotions for Widows.

If you need godly perspective in the midst of your suffering, or encouragement when it feels hard, this book will provide both. When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount, we’ll send you Hope for an Aching Heart. Ask for it when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

How to you make the Easter season meaningful and special for you and your family? Barbara Rainey will be here to talk about that Monday. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth offers true hope in Christ. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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