Thanks to everyone for your kind words and for your prayers over the last few months. I am still dealing with the physical and mental fatigue of grief, but there is progress, and I am grateful for it. Above all, I’m experiencing the peace and friendship of Jesus, and I’m so grateful not only for His Lordship, but His companionship.
Nanci and I always said that Jesus was our best friend, and we were each other’s second best friend. Now my second best friend is with my best friend, but my best friend is still here with me. “And behold, I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). His presence helps me put one foot in front of the other, not with sense of drudgery, but with a sense of gratitude and comfort, knowing He is with me and is giving me strength.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 was Nanci’s go-to Scripture during her four years of cancer: “Blessed is the one who trusts in Yahweh, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
I’ve been reflecting on how powerfully I saw that passage displayed in her life. During all the years I knew Nanci, she was devoted to Jesus. But something wonderful happened in her last four years. In her walk with God, her view of God, and her trust in God she mentored and discipled me. I watched her life in ways no one else could, day by day. (You can’t fool the person you live with!) I saw up close her diligence in reading and meditating on God’s Word, reading great books, and writing in her journals, which she would sometimes read to me.
I saw the reality of Jeremiah 17 in her life:
like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream
Every morning Nanci read Scripture, Spurgeon, The Valley of Vision (a book of Puritan prayers), Paul Tripp’s New Morning Mercies, and books by J. I. Packer, A. W. Tozer, and John Piper. She placed herself by the stream of God’s Word and great books, and she sent her roots deep.
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green
Nanci always cared for the plants and flowers around our house. I watered them during her illness, and under her direction they thrived. Likewise, she was careful to attend to her soul’s thirst. She wrote in her journal, “Trials/sufferings/‘heat’ will come—even to believers—but those who draw their sustenance from the LORD—‘the stream’—will not only survive; they will flourish.”
and is not anxious in the year of drought
for it does not cease to bear fruit
When Nanci sometimes felt anxious, she instructed herself by God’s Words, and the anxiety was replaced by peace and hope and rest in the great God she knew to be her Father, and the Jesus she knew not only as Savior and Lord, but friend. And WOW—she bore more fruit than ever before!
Nanci wrote, “Needing to trust in Christ, and then choosing to do so, results in Him making a home deeper in my heart. My trust allows my soul to continuously grow in the presence of God’s love for me. It is a deep and marvelous love.”
I am overwhelmed with gratitude to God—not just for what He did in our healthy years, but especially for what He did in our last four years together. It was a wonder to behold. I had a front row seat—THE front row seat—and it was far more compelling and ultimately triumphant than any sporting event or concert or rally.
God did a miracle of grace and empowerment in Nanci’s heart that far exceeds physical healing, and through her afflictions He achieved in her an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs them all. I saw the miracle of my wife’s last years. She praised Jesus for it, and I will forever praise Him for it.