Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Prepared for Thankfulness

Leslie Basham: Sometimes we need the perspective of someone who's older and wiser. Today we'll get it. This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It's Tuesday, June 28th.

Last week we learned about crying out to the Lord and being patient while He works. Today we'll hear from a woman who has learned to do that. Here's Nancy to introduce our guest.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It's a very special privilege for me to be at a conference my friend, Evelyn Christenson, is attending. I was so thankful to learn that she was going to be here and asked her if she would take some time just to mentor me and let us talk together for Revive Our Hearts because I knew that you would want to hear something of her life message.

She has a powerful life message in the area of prayer. She's written fifteen books. She's spoken at conferences and seminars and workshops all around the world, and has trained thousands and thousands of people to pray. She's known as a woman of prayer.

But I learned recently in reading about Evelyn that she's had some other life experiences that have taught her much about the heart and ways of God. I asked her if she'd be willing to share with us just out of some of those experiences that I know will relate to many of our listeners.

Evelyn, thank you so much for taking time out this afternoon. I know you're eighty-years-old and still so vibrant, yet I know you are dealing with some physical issues and operating on a third of your heart. I can't imagine what you would do if you had your whole heart functioning. I can't keep up with you as it is now. What a rich life God has given you and to look into your countenance and see such a fullness and a freedom and a Spirit of Christ, but I know that that has come at a price.

Evelyn Christenson: A very definite price.

Nancy: You have talked in different ones of your books about your three children who are grown and have children of their own now. But I learned recently that you also went through some very difficult experiences as a young woman in relation to losing children.

Evelyn: Absolutely.

Nancy: Tell us about how God walked you through some of that process.

Evelyn: The wonderful thing about being eighty, Nancy, is that I can look back and see how God used those experiences very definitely in what He was calling me and preparing me to do and to be. And so when I look back, now I can do it with a thankful heart. I couldn't at the time, but I don't think anybody going through losing four babies, which I have done . . . . I don't think anybody at the time would say, "Oh, isn't this wonderful? Isn't this fun?" It is not. It is very traumatic.

When we were first married, I was pregnant, and we lost that baby in a miscarriage. That wasn't as traumatic as the next miscarriage because in between those I had lost a baby, a full-term baby, stillborn. We had just lost Chris' father just before that, five weeks before that. He died very unexpectantly. Then our baby was born dead. I knew that baby was dead for ten days before I delivered the baby, finally.

Nancy, we were in World War II. I don't think anyone who hasn't gone through a war realizes how traumatic it is and all the things you go through. Our doctors and our nurses were all overseas, and if it weren't for my mother I wouldn't have lived through that stillborn because I was in steady labor [with contractions] about one minute apart.

Nancy: Knowing that this child was dead?

Evelyn: Knowing the baby was dead, and it was a very serious thing. My husband was gone; he was still in training. He hadn't gone overseas yet, which he did. But we wanted that baby so desperately and to fill the place with his dad having just died. We thought, "Now there's going to be a little baby." But there wasn't.

Then there was the next miscarriage. My husband had come back from Germany. He was a bomber pilot. All of this had gone on and it was a very traumatic time in our lives. My father had become an invalid and everything. The second miscarriage happened after we got to Bethel College. When Chris came back, God had called him to be a pastor, and we had only had one year of college before World War II broke out.

I already had one miscarriage and a stillborn, and then we got back to college and was pregnant, ecstatic, and thought "Oh, this is going to be it because we are in God's will." We're going into the ministry; we've given up everything, so everything is going to be just fine. We are going to have our family.

The amazing thing was that I lost that baby. I prayed everything that you are supposed to pray. I did all the steps that anybody would ever think you would do when God has called you into ministry. Well, you know the whole story. You've heard many people tell this story. I remember being so angry and saying, "God, I want this baby so badly." I was lying in that hospital room and just like a ticker-tape running through my mind is Romans 8:28, "I, God, am working all things for, not His good, for my good for those who are called according to His purpose."

Nancy: This is while you were in the hospital having just miscarried?

Evelyn: I had just miscarried. God said this to me.

Nancy: Is that what you wanted to hear at that point?

Evelyn: No, but at first it was startling, but I accepted it. I was wrestling very hard. I wasn't really angry. I got angry with God at the next baby I'll tell you about. But with this one I was upset, and I wanted the baby and everything else. And God said so clearly to me that this was for my good.

Nancy: Did you just immediately accept that?

Evelyn: You know, I did. If God says something Nancy . . . . I think I got this from my mother. I watched her. If God said it, it was okay. I accepted it from the Lord. I not only accepted it, I made it my philosophy of life, and I have lived by it from age twenty-three to age eighty. Nancy, God has never failed me. I have failed Him so many times. I have fallen on my face many, many times, but never God.

But God now has given us . . . . We had one more baby [that died], but then now that God had given us three and eight grandchildren I don't know what I would do if I had all seven of them. I'd be a pretty busy mother! But God didn't make a mistake. He knew what He was doing. This is for your good, even losing babies.

Nancy: You had to be willing to accept that even if you couldn't understand.

Evelyn: I understood the first time when He said it; I understood. A lot of things have come in my life I haven't understood, but I have so deeply ingrained in my thinking my belief that God is not making [mistakes] that whatever comes in my life I can say I know that God is not making a mistake. There have been very difficult things in my life.

Nancy: That wasn't the last child you lost?

Evelyn: Wasn't the last child. We had one child, our Jan, who was a perfectly fine, wonderful, precious, little girl. Then, the next baby . . . . We were in our first pastorate, and I was pregnant but didn't know it when we left for the pastorate. I was pregnant with our little Judy, and then things weren't right when I got to the last of the pregnancy.

Things were not good. Something was very wrong with Judy. When she was born I had an extremely difficult delivery--very, very difficult. They told me that it was the hardest kind they had ever recorded in the hospital. I said, "Thanks a lot."

But Judy was born with spina bifida, and she was paralyzed from the waist down. They told us if she ever spiked a high fever, just to take her to the hospital. Her water system, her fluids in her body could not take care of a high fever. She was perfectly good and well and happy when I put her to bed, and when I picked her up in the morning, she had a 105 degree fever. So, I knew I had to take her to the hospital.

Nancy: She was how old now?

Evelyn: She was seven months old. Well, she died at seven months. She was in the hospital a couple months. And so we took her in.

Nancy: How were you praying at that time?

Evelyn: Oh now, this is what was so amazing. This is when I got angry. A former pastor of ours had said, "My goodness, God must love Evelyn and Chris a lot to give them all this trouble and all these problems." I became so angry. He was talking about Hebrews 12. So, I spent a lot of time . . . . The night, well, we took her in the day time to the hospital. Then in the night in that first parsonage where I lived the first year, I stayed on my knees in that bedroom all night long fighting with God.

Nancy: For the life of that child, that little girl.

Evelyn: I kept saying, "This is a great way to show me you love me. Isn't it enough that there are three of them? Haven't I learned enough? All these things I had learned already." I was telling God all these things. I was angry and I fought, and all at once and I stayed in Hebrews 12.

Now, He doesn't teach us all the same things, but what He was teaching me was "if you are going to be the pastor's wife I want you to be, you're going to know these things."

Nancy: What was it in Hebrews 12 you were seeing?

Evelyn: Oh, He was saying, "that we are disciplined because He loves us so we will be holy, and it is for our good."

Nancy: Discipline. Does that mean you had done something wrong?

Evelyn: No, no, and that word used to be "chastening" in the old translations. It isn't so much a chastening. It is preparation for. It's honing, making finer gold in the hot fire, all of that.

Nancy: Did you ask yourself, "Have I done something wrong? Is God punishing me?"

Evelyn: Well, I didn't even think I had because we had gone to our first church. We had done everything that we were supposed to do. We had gone through all the schooling. As far as we knew, we were on track with God, so I wasn't questioning if I'd done anything wrong.

"But why? When I had done everything that I had thought I was supposed to be doing. Now, why are you doing this to me, Lord? Haven't I done enough? Haven't I given enough? Haven't I suffered enough?" I think a lot of us ask that question. And He said, "No, you're going to have to learn."

Then, Nancy, that night . . . I admit I was fighting God, and I was angry at that pastor for saying that . . . but when it broke, it broke. Nancy, I suffered and I grieved after that.

Nancy: This is while your little girl was still in the hospital?

Evelyn: She was still in the hospital. Even when she died, I didn't fight. I accepted God's will. And that night on my face . . . .

Nancy: When you say you broke?

Evelyn: Whatever it was: my defiance, my anger, my everything. It just went. It broke like a dam.

Nancy: Was that a surrender for you?

Evelyn: It was a surrender.

Nancy: A relinquishment?

Evelyn: Both. It was a surrender to God.

Nancy: Not knowing whether she would live or die?

Evelyn: No, we didn't know, but she didn't live. I pretty much knew from the doctors. He could have performed a miracle if He wanted to. The grief was very, very much there of course when we lost her.

Nancy: So, the surrender doesn't mean that you don't feel the pain?

Evelyn: Oh no. I felt the pain in those couple months that we had with her in the hospital. We watched her literally burn out because her system could not handle the fever. She almost turned purple. She was just burning up. To watch your own child go through that was very, very difficult. But I never asked God why again.

Leslie Basham: When you're going through the kind of crisis Evelyn Christenson was just describing, God's promises are all we can cling to. 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 is 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 1-800-596-5959. That's 1-800-569-5959. It's easy to donate over the phone, and we'd love to send you this free booklet. When you contact us, you can also ask about getting the conversation we heard today between Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Evelyn Christenson on CD. We don't have time to play the complete interview on aging, but you can hear it by ordering the CDs. Again, the number is 1-800-569-5959.

Tomorrow we'll be back with Evelyn Christenson. She's made some tough sacrifices in her life, and we'll hear how she did it. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.