Revive Our Hearts Podcast

One Surrendered Life

Leslie Basham: Two and a half years ago we heard from a young woman named Shannon. She realized that by obeying God's call to the mission field, she might be giving up the chance to find a husband. Here's Shannon.

Shannon: A life of singleness is really a life that can be presented fully to the Lord in abandonment, in sacrifice, in ministry to others and how fulfilling that life is. It's not that, "Well, Lord, I'm missing this major piece. No, I am full because I am living right in the center of what You have created me to do, at least at this time in life as a single woman."

Leslie Basham: This week, we'll hear an update to Shannon's story. This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, November 22. Here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, we have the joy today of talking with a woman who was actually the very first guest we ever had on Revive Our Hearts. And I thought you would enjoy hearing a special follow-up story to that interview. Shannon, welcome back to Revive Our Hearts.

Shannon: Thank you, Nancy. It's a joy to be here.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And when we first met, you were 26 years old. You were just getting ready to head to a country in Asia where you were going to be serving as a medical missionary. And we talked then about"¦this was a country that you had never been to before and you were thinking that perhaps God was calling you to spend your life in that part of the world.

What motivated you, as you think back, those few years ago now, what motivated you to leave the security of this country and a possible career as a nurse practitioner and to go to a country where you had never been, to think of spending your life there?

Shannon: Well, that is a great question and actually it was a process for me that occurred over several years. And really what it basically was, was just a total 180 as far as changing my perspective on what my life was supposed to be about.

Really, it's so easy to think that this life is about me. It's about creating the safest, most comfortable life for myself that I can. [It's about] Having a successful career and a husband, maybe, and a family and all of these wonderful things that God gives us as good gifts in our lives.

But it's easy to think that that is the goal of life. And what the Lord had to do in my heart was really to change my perspective and He did that through His Word over several years. And what I recognized was that, Shannon, you were not created for yourself. You were created for the Lord God. You were created so that you might bring Him glory in the world.

And what God desires more than anything is to be worshipped. And there are many people in this world who are yet to hear the name of Jesus Christ, who are yet to bow the knee to worship Him.

And so I understood that my life was not created for me, it was created for the glory of God and there are those, yet, who do not know Him and who, therefore, cannot glorify Him and that each of us as believers has a part to play -- whether we go or whether we send missionaries -- but each of us has a part to play in seeing that God is glorified in this world and in our lives.

And the Lord just impressed upon me, I was one of the ones who was to go and to make Him known so that the people might glorify and worship and honor Him as He so deserves.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: What were some of the things that you had to be willing to let go of in order to follow the Lord's leading in your life?

Shannon: Well, I knew that when the Lord called me, I really believed that it would be for a lifetime. It would be as a career missionary and so recognizing that in the beginning, I dealt with things like I won't see my family very often.

My mom is my best friend in the whole world and that relationship is so precious and special to me. And I knew that our relationship would change, just that it would be different and that I wouldn't be able to be with my family and to see them as often.

I knew that I wouldn't be advancing in a career here in the United States. Also, my church is very important to me, a very special part of my life, my pastors and elders and the family that I have there at the Bible Church.

You know, I have always had such good and regular teaching, just a really solid diet on the Word of God that comes from the church. And I knew also that being on the mission field that would be different, especially the kind of area that I am called to, an unreached area; there may not be any established church at all.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So, you said, "Yes, Lord, I am willing to relinquish these things to You." You went to the mission field. You have now been there for a couple of years. What are some of the biggest challenges once you got there that you actually faced?

Shannon: Probably the biggest challenge actually was determining exactly where my placement would be. That was quite a process. And actually when I got to the field in September of 2001, I stepped off the plane that evening and was told just a few minutes later that the placement that I thought I would be serving in for the upcoming two years did not exist anymore.

And so, here I was in this new place. I did not know anyone. And the only thing that I knew that I had, now had fallen through, you know, this placement.

So, that was a process of learning to surrender from the very beginning and recognizing that I was not in control, that the Lord was in control and He who brought me here would be faithful and that ultimately a placement would be found.

But that process"¦I stayed in that atmosphere of uncertainty about placement for almost the entirety of the two years. But the Lord, at the eleventh hour as it were, opened up a placement for me that really fit everything that He had called me to. So I think for the first two years, that was the biggest challenge. There were challenges of loneliness at times, as a young, single foreign woman.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Now, when you went to the field, you were 26 years old and you were single. And I remember that, at the time, you were realizing that part of the price that God might be asking you to pay was relinquishing the right to have a mate. In fact, we went back to the Revive Our Hearts archives and pulled out what you had to say two and a half years ago about that subject.

Shannon: There are a number of things that the Lord used in this time and actually, one of them was you in a broadcast that you had done on FamilyLife Today that I heard when I was wrestling with the Lord over these issues. And you had done a series talking about singleness, and at that particular time when I heard the broadcast, that was the issue that I was struggling with.

Lord, I'm having a hard enough time getting a date here in the United States. What am I going to do when I am overseas? And just thinking, you know, If you say yes to this, this may be saying yes to a lifetime of singleness. That was fearful for me to consider. But the broadcast that you did, it was all part of God transforming my perspective on what my life is about in the first place.

And you talked about how a life of singleness is really a life that can be presented fully to the Lord in abandonment, in sacrifice, in ministry to others and how fulfilling that life is. It's not that, "Well, Lord, I'm missing this major piece." No, I am full because I am living right in the center of what You have created me to do, at least in this time in life as a single woman.

The marriage and the children and the home, all of those things are wonderful blessings. But, my difficulty had come in that those had become the idol. They were the pursuit of life. And so the Lord had to teach me, "No, Shannon, you don't exist for yourself.

"And really all of these things, although they are wonderful blessings from Me, they aren't life. I am life and you living in My will and in ministry, that is going to be the most fulfilling, abundant life that you can have."

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Shannon, that is what you shared with our listeners two and a half years ago when we talked on Revive Our Hearts. And as far as you knew, you were relinquishing the possibility of ever being married.

Shannon: That's right. Because my thought at that time was you know, Lord, I'm 26 years old and I believe that You have called me for a lifetime of service on an overseas field. Lord, I'm willing to do that. I'm willing to live a life of singleness if that is what You call me to.

That is not my desire. I would like to be married. But you know what is best for me and this is the time in life that You have chosen to take me out. You have chosen to take me out single. Perhaps there won't be anyone there that will be a potential marriage partner and I am willing to accept that.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Did that mean that God took away the desire for marriage?

Shannon: I wish I could say that. No, the desire for marriage did not diminish at all. I still had the desire. But, Nancy, the difference (by this time) was that was not the idol anymore, that wasn't the pursuit and the goal of my life anymore.

It was more of, Lord, I know that marriage is a wonderful blessing that You give to many. In fact, it's the norm for most people that You have created and I would love to enjoy that blessing if that would ever be Your desire for me. But I leave that in Your hands.

And so the desire never faded or went away completely, but it became a quiet place in my heart that I would just lift it up and commit it to the Lord in prayer. Lord, would You provide a godly husband for me if that is Your will.

But it wasn't something that was always on my mind. It wasn't something that I was pursuing or seeking after or looking at every guy that I would see out there. And that's just by the grace of God.

That's what He is able to do in a heart when He gets ahold of us and through the power of the spirit just enables us to trust Him. You know, [Trust] that I am the sovereign God. I control every single detail in this universe. You can trust Me with this detail in your life.

And by His spirit, we can actually come to, not just the acknowledgment of that, but really the full realization in our lives that we feel that. Yes, I can trust You because You are trustworthy. It is Your nature. It is Your character to do what is best and good for me.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And I sensed as we exchanged e-mails periodically over those couple of years that God was really filling your cup in other ways.

Shannon: Absolutely, in so many ways. Number one, I would say in general just being within the will of God is the most fulfilling and abundant life that we could ever have. And I always think of Psalm 16 [:11], it says:

"You will make known to me the path of life;
In your presence is fullness of joy;
And in your right hand there are pleasures forevermore."

And that's my testimony: That with the Lord, when we are in His will, we are not missing out on things, and it is not dull. It is so abundant.

So I was experiencing just the joy of being in the center of His will, being in this new culture, learning the language. I was experiencing the joy of ministry to name the name of Christ before people who had never heard of Him and also, just the relationships with women that He brought into my life. So, I wasn't a half-person, I wasn't missing out on anything. He, for that time in my life, totally filled my cup.

Leslie Basham: That's a missionary named Shannon talking with Nancy Leigh DeMoss about singleness. Please come back for the rest of this story because there is a big plot twist coming. We'll hear more tomorrow.

Maybe you are at a crossroads like Shannon was. God could be calling you to be a missionary or there might be some other issue where saying, "Yes, Lord" is hard. Nancy's book Surrender can help you tackle some of those big decisions. It will help you make the choice that will lead to the greatest joy and fulfillment. Surrender is part of a trilogy that includes the books

Brokenness and the brand new Holiness. For more information visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

While you are there, would you get some information on a new special series called, "Seeking Him." In January, we are giving you a chance to interact with Revive Our Hearts in some special ways.

If you feel like you are just going through the motions of the Christian life and there is emptiness inside, you'll find "Seeking Him" especially helpful. Again, for more information, visit ReviveOurHearts.com or call 1-800-569-5959.

When you call or e-mail, would you remember who makes Revive Our Hearts possible? It's listeners like you. If you have never contributed to Revive Our Hearts, would you consider sending a gift to Revive Our Hearts.Thanks for your support for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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