Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Losing My Life for Christ's Sake

Leslie Basham: Here's Evelyn Christenson.

Evelyn Christenson: To have to go to India and leave a brand new grandbaby is just almost more than I could handle sometimes--to lose my life for Christ's sake. But that's what it's about through all these years, losing my life for Christ's sake.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, June 29th.

Yesterday, we heard the beginning of a conversation between Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Evelyn Christenson. As a young woman she experienced the pain of losing four children, but she could look back with the perspective of an older woman and express thankfulness. She'll continue to do the same thing today. Here's Evelyn.

Evelyn Christenson: I was doing a radio broadcast, a call-in broadcast, from California just a couple years ago. Somebody called in from the east coast. She said, "Evelyn may not remember me, but I was a little girl when she was a pastor's wife." We were then in our second church. Then she said, "My mom and dad went through a real sorrowful thing because my sister, my little baby sister, died."

She said, "Pastor Chris and Evelyn were on vacation. They gave up their vacation to come back to be with my mother and dad." She said, "I was this little girl, a little toddler about four probably." And she said, "I watched my pastor's wife, Evelyn, come back and stand . . ." The secret here is the little casket, see this isn't a miscarriage, this is a casket. And she said, "I watched Evelyn, my pastor's wife, walk up to my mom by the casket, and all she did was take my mom in her arms." She said, "I don't remember that she said anything, but she held my mom, and she cried and cried with my mom."

Nancy: And this was some years after?

Evelyn: Some years, many years afterwards. But I knew God said, "If you are going to be a pastor's wife, you need to know, your heart needs to understand." I held that member of my church. She was a member of my Sunday school class, and I held her in my arms, and we just wept together. That woman calling on the radio station said, "I said to myself when I watched that happen, 'when I get big enough I want to be like that if that's what a Christian is.'"

Nancy, one of our missionary friends, they lost their little Kenny. It was in Ethiopia. We went to visit, and she was bitter. All I know is that I knew how she felt. I stood there with her, my arms wrapped around this little missionary wife, and we prayed and we cried. That's all we did, and from that day on, she was okay.

Somebody who understood had walked arm in arm with her. That's what Romans 8:28 is. "Evelyn, it's for your good."

Nancy: But not just for your good.

Evelyn: For her good, too.

Nancy: Ultimately for the good of others.

Evelyn: That beautiful passage, 2 Corinthians 1:4, where God comforts us with the comfort that we can comfort other people, with the comfort whereby we have been comforted. If we have never gone through the comforting, and by the way if we have never accepted it and never let God change us in our trials, then don't try to change somebody else. There's nothing that is more aggravating than when you are going through a trial to have somebody who thinks they know what you're going through, and they don't have a clue.

But God comforts us so that we can comfort those who are in like circumstances. I believe with all my heart that that's the reason. God chose to train and prepare me, not every pastor's wife goes through this, but that was part of my training. I have found in my whole round-the-world tours that I have taken all over the world in training that women are alike all over the world. They all lose babies.

For awhile I got tired of starting back there at the beginning of where I really learned to pray and my relationship with the Lord, Romans 8:28 and everything. Finally, people would say to me, "Evelyn, don't start teaching where you are now. Please start teaching where we are now, where you were then." I had to learn that, to go back to where they are. That's extremely important.

It's not so much what you say, but they know they can feel if you feel their hurt, and that's extremely important. You don't have to be a pastor's wife. You can be anybody. We all have those we mentor. We all have those we look up to for security who come running to us when things hurt. Every woman has that, every man. This is something that God has called us to do as Christians, to be that support. But you don't understand unless you've had some hard things first.

Nancy: Of course you couldn't see all that fifty, sixty years ago when God was making, how he was refining. You know one of the things I love and admire about you, Evelyn, is your tenderness of heart. In fact, I remember years ago hearing you say in a conference where you were speaking and I was in the audience. I wrote it down and I came across those notes again recently where you said that "hardly a night goes by where the Lord doesn't wake you in the middle of the night and that you weep and pray for the lost."

I heard you say that and I couldn't even, I'll tell you honestly, I couldn't begin to relate to that heart. I've thought as I've even again this week have a chance to connect with you, and I thought where does this come from? This tenderness? This compassion? These things I want to be true in my own heart toward the Lord and toward others. But this is all part of the writing of that book in your life.

Evelyn: What God has allowed in my life, I mean God had to allow those hard things, and I believe He even sends some of them. You go through all the Old Testament. God sent hail. God sent the drought. God does these things, but He does it for a reason. The wonderful part about this is, now that I'm eighty and it's been true for quite a few years now, I can look back and I can see Romans 8:28 that God is working out everything for my good because I am called according to His purpose.

Now, when I was twenty-three, and God gave me that verse at my second miscarriage, I had to take it on absolute faith--absolute faith. There was no track record. I didn't know. I just had to say, "Alright, Lord. I believe you, and I will take this on faith." And I have lived that verse. My children and my husband will tell you, I lived that verse.

But the wonderful part is, Nancy, as we get older the joy of unshakable faith in God has come when the hurricanes have. God has protected me from a hurricane over the Caribbean and from a bomb that fell right after I left the place in Belfast where I was speaking and things like that. This is that unshakable faith. You look back, and you say, "He did it. He did it. He did it. He did it."

I have one of the most precious gifts from God, and it's an unshakable faith. My mother had it. I watched her through a very difficult life. My father was unfaithful. He was everything that he shouldn't have been until he finally found Jesus. She had unshakable faith in God. She never wavered, and I have a gift from my mother. This is a heritage that is a very precious thing to me.

Nancy: But you didn't start with unshakable faith. You're saying it develops through the years.

Evelyn: I started with just that faith because faith is not knowing what's going to come. You trust God. You have faith in God.

Nancy: When you can't see.

Evelyn: When you can't see. But when you get my age and you look back, there are some things you know. This is something I know. I know how He keeps His promises because of who He is. Getting old is one of the greatest gifts God can give to anybody. I am of all women most blessed. I've said this many times, "I don't deserve it." All He's wanted was my empty self saying, "Lord, I want your will." It hurts almost more than I could handle sometimes--to lose my life for Christ's sake. But that's what it's been through all these years, losing my life for Christ's sake.

But the great thing is, is it sounds like it's all loss, it's not. One Easter I was trying to lose my life for Christ's sake. Chris missed me upstairs, and I was down weeping on the old, green chair. He came down and said, "What's wrong?" I said, "I'm writing this book, and I'm trying to lose my life for Christ's sake." He says, "Well, if you ask me I think you have already done 99% of it." And I said, "If I have, this 1% with which I'm wrestling is a one huge 1%." I was weeping. It was Easter morning. I never made it that morning.

Finally, I was going up to Ottawa, Canada for a weekend of meetings. The night before while up there in the hotel, I said, "Lord, I obviously can't handle this whole thing all at once." I said "Lord, just this weekend, just this weekend, let me completely lose my life for Christ's sake." I was in this process of emptying, emptying, emptying myself of what was wrong, and surrendering.

But you know the exciting part about God is that He doesn't leave you in the emptying process. He lets us get that done. But the most amazing thing happened. There was a sweetness. I don't know what it was; it was good. It was just the Lord.

Nancy: It's the resurrection side of the cross, isn't it?

Evelyn: See the other is the giving, the hard side--but the joy on the other side. I mean I was so filled with some kind of joy and excitement.

Nancy: That makes me think of Jesus "who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross" (Hebrews 12:2). The problem is we're trying to get off the cross.

Evelyn: And see that isn't it at all.

Nancy: Jesus went through the cross and then the resurrection.

Evelyn: See, that's it.

Nancy: I wonder so many times. We don't experience that fullness of joy because we are not willing to go through the cross.

Evelyn: Oh, I think almost always. That's what it takes so often in my life, has taken in my life, going through the hard things, but the joy that comes in the morning is absolutely awesome.

Nancy: But it's a morning after a night of weeping.

Evelyn: Oh yes, yes. The joy, the sweetness, the more secure with Him. It was the most awesome experience, and it wasn't my last one. There have been other times when I have given up, and He always comes back with more of Him when there's less of me.

Leslie Basham: That's Evelyn Christenson talking with Nancy Leigh DeMoss about God's ability to sustain us when we have nothing left to give. We'll hear more from Evelyn tomorrow.

But we still don't have time to play this entire interview on the air. If you'd like to hear the complete conversation between two wise, godly women, you can order it on CD by calling us toll free. The number is 1-800-569-5959. That's 1-800-569-5959. You can also order online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

If you're going through the type of situation Evelyn has been describing, something that can help us is to focus on the promises of God. That's why we'd like to send you a booklet called Promises to Live By. It lists helpful promises from Scripture to help your faith to grow. It's our gift to you when you make a donation of any size to Revive Our Hearts. Just ask for Promises to Live By when you send your gift to Revive Our Hearts, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501. You can also ask for it by phone at 1-800-569-5959.

I hope you can be back with us tomorrow to hear from our guest, Evelyn Christenson, on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries, Back to the Bible and FamilyLife Today.

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