Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Surrendering Your Children to God’s Call

Leslie Basham: It wasn’t easy for Stephanie to release her daughter and grandchildren to serve the Lord in a faraway country, but she finds peace in knowing that God is in control, and He can be trusted.

Stephanie: He is the Master and we are the servants, merely the servants. As servants, we don’t have any rights. The only objective that a servant has is to please the master.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Surrender, for October 24, 2018.

Nancy’s been talking the last few days to a woman we’re calling Tina. She and her husband and children live in a country where Christianity is not looked upon with favor, so we won’t use any of their actual names.

Nancy picks up the conversation today by talking to Tina’s mother. She shares her perspective on watching your children take flight and follow God’s call on their lives. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Well, if you’ve missed the past couple of days on Revive Our Hearts, you’ve got to go to ReviveOurHearts.com and listen to the audio or at least read the transcript so you can catch up on this conversation I’ve been having with a woman we’re calling Tina who, along with her husband and their children, are serving the Lord in an Asian country where Christians are not welcome. There are people from many different religions in that country (and that could be true of many different countries around the world), but Tina has been serving the Lord there for the past sixteen years.

You’ve heard from the heart of a passionate woman who says she’s ordinary—and I believe her because I feel that—and we both have said what we have is an extraordinary God.

Tina: Yes.

Nancy: So, Tina, thank you for sharing what Christ has put in your heart and the journey He’s had you on, taking one of your last few days here on furlough to come and share with our Revive Our Hearts audience. Thank you so much.

Tina: Thank you, Nancy. It’s been a wonderful joy.

Nancy: I know that some moms who’ve been listening to you talk about how you first started to get pulled toward missions when you were a teenager when you took a couple of mission trips, and you ended up flying to this country way around the world where you’d never been before and devoting your life to serve the Lord there; I can imagine some moms listening have been thinking, How could a mom let her daughter do that?

Well, we have your mom here in the studio today, and we’re going to call her Stephanie. Because there are security concerns, we’re not giving the names of the individuals or the name of the country involved, but I want you to hear the story, and I want you to hear the love for Christ.

And so, Stephanie, thank you for joining us for this conversation today. I know moms are going to love hearing your heart as well.

Stephanie: Thank you, Nancy.

Nancy: We’ve actually been friends for a number of years.

Stephanie: Yes.

Nancy: I’ve had the chance to hear from you, Stephanie, and Tina, and about your journey. I’ve been so challenged and blessed to watch you both following Christ with all your hearts—Tina, by you going to this other country and living in a faraway place and meeting and marrying a national doctor there and then having your family there.

But I’ve watched you, Stephanie, as you’ve released your daughter and now your grandchildren to be in another part of the world where you don’t see them often.

When Tina first started talking about wanting to go to this other country and serve the Lord there, did you have some apprehensions? Or did you just quickly say, “If that’s what the Lord wants, you go for it”? How did you feel back then? Do you remember back in those days?

Stephanie: Yes, Nancy, I definitely do. As Tina shared, it took her about ten years with the Lord. It’s been a process as she sensed the Lord’s call on her life. So the Lord was gracious to give me that time to prepare my own heart to release her fully to His will.

Nancy: So as He was preparing Tina, He was preparing you, too.

Stephanie: He was preparing my heart to fully give her the freedom to go and release her to God’s will and purpose for her life.

Nancy: So, on day one that wouldn’t have been so easy for you, right? There were some things you had to work through?

Stephanie: Well, I have to say, from the beginning I was raised in a God-fearing home. I knew, “Who am I to stand in the way of the Lord? If He calls my child, who am I?” I didn’t dare do that. But, as parents, it’s only natural to want to keep our children close to us.

Nancy: Yes.

Stephanie: You know that I come from a Greek background, and Greek people have the reputation of wanting their children to grow up, get married, and then live right next door to them.

Nancy: Yes. I come from a Greek background, and I have a lot of Greek relatives, and I know exactly what you’re talking about. And this is not a bad thing to want to have your children around.

Stephanie: Exactly. Exactly.

Nancy: That’s natural. It’s human.

Stephanie: That’s very human. So we have a very human perspective when we sense the call on our child’s life. But we have to realize that this is not an ordinary call.

Nancy: You said to me you had to realize that Jesus is our Master, and we are His servants.

Stephanie: Yes. He is the Master, and we are the servants, merely the servants. The Greek word that is translated as servant in the New Testament is really doulas, slave. That’s how the greatest missionary in the New Testament, the apostle Paul, refers to himself, as a slave of Jesus Christ. And as slaves, as servants, we don’t have any rights. The only objective that a servant has, a slave has, is to please the master, do His will.

Nancy: Okay, I can imagine somebody listening to you say this and thinking, But who wants to be a slave? This sounds like a horrible life. This sounds like a miserable life. I mean, slavery is not something, as it relates to humans, that we’re in favor of.

Stephanie: Yes, right.

Nancy: But you sound like this is all right.

Stephanie: Yes.

Nancy: How did you come to that place of wanting to have that relationship with Christ?

Stephanie: Well, you have to recognize who the Master is, and when you have a knowledge of who He is, His character, then it’s a joy to be His slave. So I think, Nancy, even the question of how a mother can release her child to fulfill God’s purposes and will for her life is very important that we have a deep understanding and grasp of God’s character, who He is.

And the Lord prepared my heart before she left. I was teaching second graders at our church, the church that you attended.

Nancy: Yes, where we first met.

Stephanie: Right, where we first met. We went through the Bible in a year, teaching all these great stories in the Bible—Abraham and Isaac, Jacob, Moses. But the emphasis was not on how great of a man of faith Abraham was or Joseph. But rather, the emphasis was on who God is, His character. So in each story every Sunday morning, we would highlight an attribute of God, His character.

  • We talked about His omniscience: He’s a God who knows all things.
  • His omnipresence: He’s a God who is present everywhere.
  • His omnipotence: He’s an almighty God.
  • His sovereignty (and I love, of all the attributes of God, maybe that’s one of my most favorite): He’s in control of everything in our lives.

Especially in our world today, when things are changing so rapidly, people change, our friends change, our circumstances change, but God does not. We were talking about His sovereignty—He’s in control of everything—in what seems to be a chaotic world at times.

Nancy: Right. So how did coming to know those character qualities or attributes of God, how did that encourage you to be able to release Tina to serve the Lord as a missionary?

Stephanie: Because I came to know that He’s an awesome God, our heavenly Father who cares for us, who loves us. I can trust my child with Him. He can be trusted. His will is good and perfect, and I can trust Him with my child.

I love that verse in John that says, “There is no greater joy than to see my child walking in the truth, serving Him” (see 3 John 1:4). Truly there is no greater joy than that, seeing our child walking in His Truth and having the passion to serve Him.

As we raise them, the desire of our heart, and we pray for that, is for them to find God’s will for their lives. But when the time comes, and that entails a call on their life to go abroad and serve Him on the other side of the globe, we shrink back. We want to hold them back. We just have to realize, as parents, that they need our encouragement and our fullest support as they go and totally give them the freedom to fulfill God’s purposes and will for their lives.

I had this small picture (this was years ago at home) that said, (and it’s really not even biblical), “There are two things you give to your children: One is roots, the other is wings.” I had it close by where I could glance at it pretty often.

We give them the roots as we raise them. We want to train then to love God, and we train them in His ways. And then, when our job of training them is over, our job is to release them to the Lord to use as He pleases.

Nancy: I think that actually is kind of biblical. You think about the verse in Psalms that talks about “children being like arrows in the hand of a warrior.” Those arrows aren’t meant to be held on to. They’re meant to be released, sent out to accomplish their purpose.

Stephanie: Yes, exactly.

Nancy: So, wings or arrows, but you saw in that a call to invest in your children—and you have another child as well—in the ways of God and the Word of God. Bbut then to release them to do whatever God has called them to do.

Stephanie: Whatever He pleases to do with their life.

Nancy: Tina, have you known any people, as you think back, who sensed a call of God in their life? Or, Stephanie, maybe you have. But the parents held their children back or tried to hold them back from doing what God wanted them to do? Have you seen that happen?

Tina: You know, Nancy, we have known of people whose children desired to go to the mission field, and some of those parents have been very hesitant and fearful and not wanting the children to go. It’s just like as Mom has explained, just wanting them to remain close. And that’s very understandable.

So I am just so thankful I have such a godly, wonderful mom who just realizes that, even above her will, the will of God is the greatest thing. It is the thing to be living for. It is the will to find and to be following. She has never kept me back. She’s never made me feel guilty. She never manipulated in any way. She just totally released me. Just like she said, she really gave me wings to go out and do what I felt the Lord was calling me to do.

I can imagine, just putting myself in her shoes, now being a mom. When I went to the mission field, I was young. It was far away. It was a place where I had never been, where she had never been, and where she would not be able to oversee and to make sure that all of my needs were taken care of. She really had to throw herself upon the Lord and not trust me or the mission but really trust God to take care of me and do what was best for me.

And He has, Nancy. That hasn’t always meant that it was an easy road, but I am so blessed to have a mom like her who says the Lord is number one, the will of God is number one. “Not my will, but Yours be done,” just like the Lord Jesus said as He was going to the cross.

Nancy: Yes.

Stephanie: The Lord did bring, just before Tina left . . . I thought of the Lord’s Prayer that I have prayed so many times since childhood, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” I asked the Lord to help me not only to say it with my lips but to really mean it from my heart. “Lord, Your will be done in my child’s life.”

Nancy: So you’re wanting His will more than your will.

Stephanie: More than my self will. That’s what it’s all about, Nancy, dying to our self will and surrendering to God’s will for our children—especially when that entails going to the other side of the globe to serve the Lord.

Nancy: So as you look back on these years, Stephanie, with your daughter and now your three grandchildren in another part of the world, serving in a country that’s really not hospitable to the gospel, is it worth it?

Stephanie: Yes. It is worth it because He is worth it. As we’ve said, He’s our greatest treasure. He’s the Master. We go where He calls us to go, and we do what pleases Him. So it’s all about the Master. It’s not about us. It’s not about us.

We sing, “I surrender all, all to Jesus, I surrender, all to Him I freely give.” I pray that’s really true from our hearts, that we truly surrender whatever the Master calls us to do or give.

Nancy: I’d love for both of you to share some ways that people can pray for missionaries and the separation of parents and grown children is one part of the sacrifice that is made. But just as you think of the natural fears, give us a sense of—I’d love to hear from you, Stephanie, as the mother, and you, Tina, as a daughter who’s on the mission field. How do you pray, Stephanie, for your daughter and your grandchildren as they’re in this other part of the world?

Stephanie: Again, I pray that His will be done in their life. I rely on His protection, on His presence, on His guidance, and that He will be glorified in everything they do there.

Nancy: Do you ever have times when just naturally you feel more human fear or anxiety about what they’re going through?

Stephanie: Yes, of course, especially now that persecution for Christians is on the increase everywhere.

Nancy: Right.

Stephanie: And especially this place where Tina, my child, is serving, there are those. But the Lord has freed me from any anxiety. And, again, it goes back to who I know the Master is, that He’s sovereign and who is in control of every event. So I totally rest in that, in His sovereignty, and don’t allow my heart to get anxious.

Of course, there are those moments, and now we have the grandchildren involved, I’m thinking of the grandchildren. The youngest had malaria last year. I get the call from Tina that, “very high fever, 104, and they’re not able to get it down.” Of course, there are those anxious moments that I may lose this child.

There are those moments that we feel helpless. Being on this side of the globe, we can’t help them, but we can just lift them up to the Lord and just leave it there.

Nancy: And mothers and grandmothers are going to have those moments even if their children are right at their side.

Stephanie: Yes.

Nancy: Because there are things that come into those children’s lives, young or older, that you can’t control, you can’t change, you can’t fix, you can’t manage.

Stephanie: Right. Exactly.

Nancy: So, doesn’t every mama has to, at many different points along the journey, say, “Lord, this is Your child. I yield him or her up to You to do what only You can do.”

Stephanie: Yes. Exactly. Only He can do.

Nancy: There have been parents in the hospital with their child saying, “I can hold his hand. I can be there. But I can’t heal him. I can’t fix him.”

Stephanie: Exactly.

Nancy: So it’s a faith walk no matter where your child is, right?

Stephanie: It is. It’s surrendering to the Lord, surrendering to His will.

Nancy: But trusting that He is good and wise, and He doesn’t make mistakes.

Stephanie: Right. Exactly. He’s good and wise.

Nancy: I’m thinking, as we’re talking, about a friend who recently felt called by the Lord. He’s a pastor. He felt the Lord’s call after many years of pastoring to resign his pastorate and to go into another kind of ministry that’s going to require a huge step of faith. I won’t go into the details, but when he stood to tell his congregation this, he said to them, “I love this congregation. I love this church. I love you. But I love Jesus more.”

He said at that moment, this congregation, who was in shock—they had no idea this was coming—they stood up in a standing ovation. They weren’t cheering because they were glad to get rid of him. They love him. But they were rejoicing when he said, “I love Jesus more than I love you, and I love you a lot.”

And I think his heart, that, “I love Jesus more than anything or anyone else, so if Jesus is leading this way, that’s what I have to do,” that was beautiful.

Stephanie: Yes.

Nancy: But what was also beautiful was seeing that church affirm that you must love Jesus more than you love us.

Stephanie: And He calls us to love Him more than our children.

I think we pride ourselves many times that we don’t have any idols in this country like other countries have idols to worship, but our children can become an idol.

Nancy: Yes.

Stephanie: It’s a test when we release them to God’s will for their lives. It’s a test. Do I love the Lord more than the desires that I have for my child? Or are my desires and my agenda more important than God’s agenda and desires and will for my child?

Nancy: When you think of how God—the ultimate Father—sent His only child to this earth . . . talk about a cross-cultural experience—from heaven to this fallen earth. He sent Him because of His love for fallen human beings and saying, “I want to give My Son.” God loved the world so much that He gave His Son for the salvation of the world.

And, really, when a parent releases her child, her grandchildren, to serve the Lord, she’s saying, “I want to be part of this redemptive story that God is writing in bringing many children to glory, many to know Christ who would not otherwise know Him.”

Stephanie: Yes.

Nancy: That’s where it seems like you have to have the perspective, as, Tina, you’ve said earlier in this conversation, “This life is so short, and eternity is forever. We’re living not for this moment but for what we will experience when we stand face to face with Jesus Christ.”

Stephanie: Yes.

Nancy: And, Stephanie, I know that in that moment, all these years that you’ve had less time with your daughter and with your grandchildren, you’re not going to stand in heaven and say, “I have many regrets about that.” You’re going to say, “Thank you, Jesus, for the privilege of making some tiny little sacrifice.” It seems huge now, and it is big, but in eternity, it’s going to feel so, so worth it. And that’s what you’re counting on, isn’t it?

Stephanie: Yes. And along those lines, Nancy, I love that verse in 2 Corinthians 4:16–18 that says to focus on things that are of eternal and not to think on the temporal because the things that we see are temporal, but the things that we don’t see are eternal. And it’s about heaven and eternal perspective in all of this.

Nancy: Yes.

Well, both of you women have given us an eternal perspective over these last few days. I feel so blessed to know you, to have followed your journey all these years, and now to share a little bit of your story with our listeners.

God may be sending some of our listeners to another part of the world. That might be part of the story He’s writing for them. Or it might be just sending them across the street to a neighbor’s house to share Jesus. But whatever it is, Jesus is worth it. Right?

Tina: Yes.

Nancy: Tina, I wonder if you would just close this conversation by praying for our listeners and asking the Lord to do His work, whatever that is, whatever that looks like, in each heart of each listener as they reflect on this conversation. Would you do that?

Tina: Great God and heavenly Father, we bow before You with humble hearts, just so thankful that You have loved us with such a great love, and You have brought us out of darkness into Your glorious light.

You have given us a great hope, Lord, for this life, but for the life to come as well. We look forward to the day, Master, Lord Jesus, when we’re just going to look at You face to face. Lord, I just look forward to that day when this life is done, and we will be before You forever and ever, worshipping You as You deserve to be worshipped, rightly and free from the hindrances of our sin, Lord.

Father, I want to pray for those who are listeners now. I want to pray for all of our hearts, Lord, that You would have Your way in the lives of each of us. You are the Master. You are the Pearl of great price. You are worthy. Lord, You are the Alpha; You are the Omega.

And, Father, we recognize that we were not created for ourselves. We were created for Your great glory. We were created to glorify You and to enjoy You forever and to bring others to Your throne room to be able to glorify You and to enjoy You forever. And, Lord, I just pray that we would all be about that great business. Lord, whether You have us here in the United States or in some far-flung country around the world, our purpose is the same, and it is the glory of Jesus Christ.

So, Father, I thank You that You have given us this great treasure of the gospel. You have given us the great commission. And You have told us that we are to go and to make disciples. Lord, help us to be obedient. We trust You. Your will is good and glorious. You don’t make a mistake with our lives. And, Jesus, You are worth it all. We will all be able to stand at the end and to say, “Truly, I never made a sacrifice.”

Thank You, Lord, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Stephanie: Amen.

Leslie: What a sweet conversation this has been. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been talking to Tina, a passionate, ordinary woman who has gladly given her life to serve the Lord with her family in an Asian country. If you missed any part of the past couple of days, you’ll want to go back and listen to the entire conversation at ReviveOurHearts.com.

If you were especially touched by this program, would you consider giving to help support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts? Your gift is key to helping us keep this podcast coming your way each day with encouraging programs like this one.

And when you give a gift of any amount, we’d like to send you the 2019 wall calendar as our way of thanking you for your support. It’s a thirteen-month calendar, beautifully designed by the Revive Our Hearts team.

Visit ReviveOurHearts.com to make your gift and request the wall calendar, or ask for the calendar when you call with your gift. The number is 1–800–569–5959.

Nancy says discouragement is one of the most effective tools of the enemy. She’ll show us how to find encouragement in the Lord. That’s tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants you to know that our God is an awesome God. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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