Revive Our Hearts Radio

An Intervention

Leslie Basham: When a woman is leaving her husband, she might expect some sympathy from her dad. But one young wife picked up the phone and heard this.

Mr. Alf: All of us know what the Lord wants. His Word is very clear in these instances like this. There’s a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do. Obviously, if a couple decides to get married and they make the covenant with each other, they’ve made some promises that need to be kept.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, February 17.

Every married women needs to hear our topic this week. And Nancy, if our listeners have missed the last couple of days, they can catch up at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I think you’ll agree that we’re hearing a very moving story and powerful illustration of the redeeming grace and goodness of God—how He can restore the most hopeless situation. Ron and Nancy Anderson have been sharing their testimony. It happened 25 years ago, but, Ron and Nancy, to look at you today and see the tenderness in your hearts, it’s fresh for you still today. Is this hard for you to relive the first couple of horrible years of your marriage? What do you think as you’re now telling the story today?

Ron: It really isn’t hard because it’s so far removed from where we’re at and where the Lord has brought us. So I don’t feel any pain over it.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So when you break down and cry when you’re telling it, what are you thinking?

Ron: What that represents in my life is the joy that the Lord has brought into my life. It is overwhelming emotionally, at times, to think where we were and where He’s brought us today. So when I get choked up, that is usually a result of feeling that emotion of, “Wow! This is where we’re at, and this is amazing.” I’m sure Nancy might feel the same way.

Nancy Anderson: I do. It is more difficult for me in that I have the "scarlet A" on my chest—because I was the one who stepped out of our marriage, and my ego doesn’t want to admit that. And yet, I know that it’s helpful for other people because I am a survivor, and I was miraculously healed. So the story needs to be told. I struggled with it—and we have told it to couples in small groups over the years—but now, on a national basis, we are saying it.

It’s an amazing thing that the Lord has given me the strength to do this, because it’s not a natural thing to air your “dirty laundry” to the world. And yet, I know that it helps people. I get emails from people that say, “I thought I was the only one.” So for me to bring comfort to them and hope to them and restoration to them—and that little spark of a new beginning—it’s all worth it, even though personally it is difficult.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: As we share your story, the goal is not to highlight the sin, but it’s to highlight the grace of God. That’s what I think brings such hope. There are a lot of people living in those and other kinds of sins, but the message here is that God can really change a heart. He can deliver from sinful bondages, and He can forgive, and He can cleanse.

And also, to say that obedience and surrender may take place in a moment as we heard on the last program . . . Within 24 hours you broke off the affair and quit your job so you wouldn’t face that temptation again. Those were dramatic, drastic steps that you took, and yet there was still a process of restoration that lay ahead that was going to be a lot of hard work.

You had really no solid foundation in your marriage. God used your parents as an important part of that process. We’ve asked your parents in—to hear from them and to hear from you, Ron and Nancy, the way that God used them in the process of restoring your marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Alf, thank you so much for taking time out today to share your part in this story, and for joining us here on Revive Our Hearts.

Mr. Alf: We’re blessed to do it, I’ll say that.

Mrs. Alf: Thank you for having us.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, you’re so welcome. I just again want to say what an incredible thing it is that parents would take the responsibility that you did to be as forthright and direct and courageous as you were. You kind of stuck your nose in where you didn’t know if your daughter would welcome that or not, but God used that. Now, 25 years later, you are reaping some joys and blessings of living near your kids and your grandson and seeing how God is using their lives. That has to be a great joy for you.

But the battle wasn’t over. You’re back home in Minnesota; they’re out in California. You don’t know what’s going on, but you’re praying. Tell us what's going on in your hearts as you’re praying for Ron and Nancy.

Mr. Alf: Well, it was quite a period because we knew that we had told Nancy what she needed to do. But the question was, would she be obedient to what the Lord wanted and what we wanted, or would she leave and not do what she needed to do? So we had decided that we would wait until the morning. I don’t remember exactly what time, but we set a time limit that if we didn’t hear something, we would call them, or we would call Ron.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So you weren’t going to leave well enough alone?

Mr. Alf: No, we weren’t going to drop it there. No, not at all. As it worked out, Ron called us before we needed to call him, so it worked out fine.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And he brought you up to speed on what had taken place?

Mr. Alf: Yes, he told us that they’d been up all night and that they’d been talking. Then we talked to our daughter, of course. I remember that was quite a conversation. Such an answer to prayer!

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Yes, your hearts had to be elated, and yet you knew that there was still more ahead. You gave some solid counsel to Ron and Nancy about putting back the pieces. Nancy, I think one of the first things they suggested was that you meet with another couple.

Nancy Anderson: Yes, they told us of another couple they knew in California who was experienced, both in marriage and in the Lord. We went and met with them, I think, within a few days.

Ron: It was within two days because we went to San Diego that weekend for two days—again, just to get away and talk. And then, Monday night, we got back. By then, Richard and Marian had set up a time for us to meet with Dr. Ray and his wife.

Nancy Anderson: And we met with them—and what a marvelous experience. They gave us that spark of hope that it could be repaired. Though they had never had that problem, they certainly had had marriage difficulties. They just encouraged us and prayed for us and were so sweet and so loving toward us, and they weren’t shocked by us.

They gave us that little window of hope that we could make this work if the Lord was the center of our relationship. They talked about the verse that said how the three-stranded cord is not easily broken (see Ecclesiastes 4:12).

And we—Ron and I—had just been a two-stranded cord. The Lord was not entwined with us, with our marriage. That was probably their biggest encouragement: to invite the Lord into our marriage, because when our strength failed, His strength would not. So that was just another turning point that got us back on track.

Ron: And then the next morning, I think, Nancy got on the plane and went back to Minnesota to counsel with her parents.

Nancy Anderson: I went back by myself just to counsel alone because the problems really did arise from my bad behavior in the beginning of being critical and complaining and pushing my husband away and then being so needy that I sought comfort elsewhere, outside my marriage. So obviously, I had personal issues that I needed to deal with. So I went home for one-on-one counseling with my parents and other people. They had some other women’s groups and different groups pray for me and come over to the house and really just minister to me.

And then Ron came and that’s when they began to talk to us about how in the world were we going to put our marriage back on a firm foundation because our foundation was totally fractured.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: One key issue that your parents forced you to face was this issue of forgiveness. Do you remember that, Mr. Alf?

Mr. Alf: Yes, I do.

Ron: For me, that was the turning point. The night that I got there, at dinner, Richard looked at us and said, “I know that Nancy has probably told you that she’s sorry, but has she asked for your forgiveness? You have to decide if you’re going to forgive her or if you’re going to use this as your ace in the hole every time you get into arguments the next 30 years.”

Then the next morning we went to breakfast, and he said to Nancy, “Have you two thought about what I said last night?” Nancy looked across the table and grabbed my hand, and she asked me if I would forgive her. And the Lord gave me the ability at that moment to make the decision for a yes.

I said, “Yes, I forgive you.” It didn’t mean the marriage became perfect at that moment in time, because there was still a lot of hard work that had to take place. But from that moment on, I never felt any pain over the situation again. I never felt jealousy. It was like the Lord just took it out of my heart, almost instantaneously. I just give the glory to the Lord for doing that, and I thank you, Richard, for having the wisdom to see that as being a major building block that we had to start from.

Nancy Anderson: That was a signal to me, another spark of hope that we could reconcile. And I started really then to care for him. I started to see that he loved me, and there was a tenderness and a respect that I started to have for my husband that I had not had before. I saw him as a man—not a boy—a man who would take a stand and give his wife undeserved mercy, much like God gives all of us undeserved mercy.

My view of him began to change, and my view of myself began to change. From that point on, I was willing to follow him and to see that he would be the leader of our home. I stopped fighting against him and wanting to be right all the time. As I surrendered to the Lord, I also surrendered to my marriage, and we began again.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I wonder, Mr. and Mrs. Alf, if you would just share with us—Ron and Nancy, from your perspective, too, what are some of the things that, Nancy, your parents did—and Mr. and Mrs. Alf, what are some of the things that you did that could be an encouragement to parents as they’re trying to help their children walk through these waters of a rocky marriage? Nancy, what strikes you as one of the things that was most helpful for you from your parents?

Nancy Anderson: Well, they were firm with me, but very tender at the same time. I knew that they loved me, but they also were realists in that they did not excuse my bad behavior. They held me accountable for what I was doing—for the destructive behavior that I had in my marriage. They did not coddle me in the sense that they did not say, “Oh, you poor baby, you married a mean man. Come home.”

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: They really did not take sides.

Nancy Anderson: They did not take sides. The only side they took was the biblical side, which was for hope and restoration, for us to stay married.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And challenging you to obedience?

Nancy Anderson: Yes. They said, “You’re out of line.” And I was!

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Mr. and Mrs. Alf, when you spoke that straightforwardly to Nancy, did you think it was maybe a risk that she would reject your counsel and instruction?

Mr. Alf: I personally didn’t think that much about it. I just knew what was right, and that what she was doing—apparently, from what I knew at that point—was wrong. We had trained our daughter—or taught our daughter, I should say—that she had a responsibility. It became obvious that she had a responsibility in that relationship and that she wasn’t fulfilling it. So our admonition was that she was the one who needed to make the greatest effort at that point to straighten it out.

Ron: From my perspective, the thing I look back on is that they didn’t make me out to be the bad guy. Believe me, there were plenty of things that I did. I could have been labeled justifiably as the bad guy in this situation, but that was not the role they took or put on me. They were encouraging. Their Christian wisdom . . . it still overwhelms me how the Lord used my in-laws to save my marriage.

I say that on the day that we got married, Nancy’s dad gave her hand to me. Then, two years later, he gave her back to me when he helped us go through that healing process. There are always jokes about in-laws being an irritant in your relationship, and it’s just been the opposite. They’ve been a sweet fragrance in our relationship, and I give the glory to the Lord for that.

I am really an undeserving son-in-law to have such wonderful in-laws in my life. To think that they were instrumental in saving my marriage is overwhelming when I look back and think where we were and where we are today. I just thank Dick and Marian for that.

Nancy Anderson: They were such a good role model for us in that they have been married 56 years now. And, yes, they have had difficult times, and they’ve had things that they’ve had to go through—emotional ups and downs and changes and moving and career changes and all the different things that marriages have. And yet they stayed strong in the Lord; they stayed strong with each other; they were always a united front. Of course, we kids tried to divide them, but they wouldn’t be divided.

So they’ve been an inspiration to me. There’s the term called “tough love,” and sometimes that can be misinterpreted. With my parents, I would say, it was a firm love—a strong love, but with discipline.

I know that some parents find that difficult to do, because maybe, for whatever reason—for guilt or for different things in their life that they were poor examples in—they find it hard to be so straightforward with their own children and require of them a high standard. But my parents required of me a very high standard, and when I did not meet that standard, they were not embarrassed or ashamed to remind me.

Ron: They walked as they talked. They walked and they talked as Christians, and their lives . . . you can look at the evidence that these people are committed to the Lord. It’s a tremendous role model for me to have her dad in my life because it gives me something to grow toward. It’s a challenge because he is such a strong Christian man. He is such a good spiritual leader in his own household. So, as a role model, I’m a better man for him being in my life.

Mrs. Alf: It’s only by the grace of God that any of us do anything that is worthy of the love of our children and the love of the Lord.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So what counsel would you give to parents today who are where you were 25 years ago—finding out your kids’ marriage is in trouble, your son or daughter is getting ready to leave their mate, or they’re having a rocky road? What would you say to those parents?

Mr. Alf: For my part, it was, if you run into that situation . . . All of us know what the Lord wants. His Word is very clear in instances like this. There’s a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do. Obviously, if a couple decides to get married and they make the covenant with each other, they’ve made some promises that need to be kept.

To go through and just ignore that or just disregard it is not acceptable. Therefore, the only thing you can do in those circumstances is reconnect, ask forgiveness, and move on from where you are. To give up—I can’t even comprehend giving up in a situation like that.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So it’s okay for parents to get involved in their kids’ lives to help rescue them in a situation like this?

Mr. Alf: Well, I definitely think it is. As a matter of fact, I think it’s an obligation on the parents’ part to become involved to the degree that the children will allow them. Now, that’s always a difficult situation, but in Nancy and Ron’s case, it was not difficult because they sought our counsel. Therefore, it was very easy to get involved.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I think the fact that you had been praying, and that your concern and involvement were birthed out of prayer . . . God showed you when to call, what to say. There’s a time to be quiet and a time to speak, and God gave you wisdom because you were praying and you knew your daughter. Therefore, you were able to support her while being honest with her.

Mrs. Alf: Yes.

Mr. Alf: Well, after that, thinking back about our lovely daughter and her growing up and her characteristics, we knew her very well. She always needed a little prodding here and there in order to get her back on the path. This was just another instance of the same type of thing.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: But you never cut her off, and you never stopped loving her in spite of that.

Mr. Alf: Not at all. Not at all.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, my prayer is that your tribe will increase—that God will give us godly older parents and grandparents who will do spiritual battle, spiritual warfare, for their children. As you said, Mr. Alf, there are some sons and daughters who may not yet be open to that counsel and involvement, but nobody can stop parents from praying . . .

Mr. Alf: That’s right.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: . . . and caring and loving and speaking the truth as there are opportunities. I think the things you’ve shared and the example of your life will be a great encouragement to some of our parents of grown children who listen to Revive Our Hearts.

Let me just say to those of you who are parents in that situation, we have a prayer team at Revive Our Hearts who would love to join with you in praying for your son or daughter, or the situation they’re facing. If you’ll write to us or email and let us know how we can pray with you, we have a team of intercessors, and we want to join with you in that battle and in believing God not to let those marriages just fall apart—as it’s more often the case than not that that’s what happens—but believing God for His supernatural intervention and grace.

That doesn’t mean it will happen every time—that God will salvage the situation—but He surely can, and we want to speak a word of hope and encouragement to you. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Alf. We thank the Lord for you and pray that God will use your testimony to be a great encouragement to many of our listeners.

Mr. Alf: Well, it was our pleasure to be a part of the program.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Mr. Alf, I wonder if you would . . . Since you are praying parents, and now grandparents, would you be so kind to just pray for our listeners—particularly those who have sons and daughters in troubled waters right now? Just pray a blessing of God’s grace for those families.

Mr. Alf: Yes, I’d be happy to.

Father God, we do give You praise and honor and thanksgiving as we finish the program and direct our prayers, Lord, to You on behalf of parents and children who are having difficulty in their marriages. Lord, I pray that You will bless them. Give them a measure of strength. Give them a measure of knowledge—of knowing what they need to do—and then give them the strength and courage to do it.

Lord, don’t let them just wander off in the wilderness, but draw them back to Yourself. Draw them back to each other. We thank You for children, and we thank You for parents who have a godly perspective on their life and the life of their children. Lord, help us always to love our children in spite of the circumstances, regardless of what they do or what they don’t do.

Lord, we have an obligation—a duty—to love them, to care for them, and to pray for them, that You will watch over them. Lord, give them a measure of strength and a measure of hope. And we pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: That’s Richard Alf, talking with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. He spoke important words of truth into his daughter’s life during a turning point in her marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Alf were able to speak with conviction to their daughter because they had been faithful in marriage themselves.

Are you modeling the kind of behavior that your kids can emulate? That kind of behavior comes from small, daily choices. Nancy calls them hedges. For instance, when she emails a married man, she only talks about business. If there’s something more personal to write about, she copies the man’s wife. It’s a small thing, but it can protect purity.

You need hedges in your life, and you can get some practical help in setting them by ordering a booklet Nancy Leigh DeMoss wrote called Hedges. We’ll send this booklet to you when you donate any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Not only will you receive the booklet; you’ll also get the book by today’s guest, Nancy Anderson. It’s called Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome. Her story will also help you think through hedges and protect your marriage against the pain of adultery.

Again the book Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome and the booklet Hedges are yours when you donate at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us. The number is 1-800-569-5959.

When you said, “I do,” did you and your husband stop having fun? That was Nancy Anderson’s experience.

Nancy Anderson: Ron was a great date before we were married. Then we got married and he quit dating me. I quit flirting with him and making it fun, and we lost the spark. We lost the imagination and the creativity, and we just got busy with chores and lists of things to do. We forgot to have fun.

Leslie: Discover ways to put fun back in your marriage tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

 Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

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