Today, March 14, 2019, marks our 43rd anniversary, and outside of the gift of salvation, Nancy is the greatest gift God has given to me. I am eternally grateful.
We met in 1974, both of us just 19. Two-and-a-half years earlier, in late 1971, as a 16-year-old, heroin-shooting, LSD-using, Jewish hippie rock drummer, I had been dramatically born-again and was now on fire for Jesus.
Nancy, who is also Jewish, was a hardcore atheist when we met in 1974, and it’s a providential miracle that she ever stepped foot in the little church I was then attending.
Interestingly, when she saw me in the front of the building, her immediate thought was, “I could never go out with someone like that.” Hardly love at first sight!
But we chatted after the service, I continued to share the gospel with her, and not long after, the Lord drew her to Himself. One week later, we were going together, and one week after that, we were in love and knew that we would spend the rest of our lives together.
She has been my best friend since 1974 and my bride since 1976, the mother of our two wonderful daughters and the grandmother of our four amazing grandchildren (and yes, the mother-in-law of our two terrific sons-in-law!).
I can honestly say that she is just what I need in a wife, and without her, I would not be where I am today.
First, she is completely unimpressed with my accomplishments.
I could write one book a week and she would shrug her shoulders.
I could speak to a crowd of one million people and it would not get her attention.
In fact, if I told her, “Honey, I’ve been writing day and night and finished this new book in record time,” her response would be, “You obviously haven’t been spending much time in prayer.”
The only thing that matters to her is that I walk closely with the Lord and live a life full of His Spirit.
What matters to her is that I’m like Jesus. And if I’m really walking with Him – in real, consistent, intimate communion – that will be manifest in every area of my life.
Second, Nancy is a total truth teller.
She doesn’t mince words (we’re both New Yorkers, so that’s a factor too), and she shoots entirely straight.
When our daughters were teenagers, they would ask her, “Mom, does this outfit make me look fat?”
She would reply, “Yes,” which was not the answer they were looking for.
Her advice to them was simple: “If you don’t want to know my opinion, don’t ask.”
To flatter with empty words is not in her vocabulary.
One time, I sent her the opening pages of a brand new book I had just started, and I was really excited about it. “What a compelling introduction this will be,” I thought to myself.
She sent it back with these words written on the first page, in large red letters: “Total fail!”
That’s my bride!
When I told her I was sure the content was good, she replied, “Maybe so, but not for the opening pages of the book.”
Upon reflection, I realized she was right (as she is about most things almost all the time, at least when it comes to matters between us). I made the adjustments, and the book was all the better for it.
Third, she is one of the most compassionate people I know, often praying with tears for people who are hurting. Sometimes she has even cried herself to sleep, so deep was her burden.
This has challenged me to go deeper and to care more.
Fourth, she puts few demands on me, having no problem with me traveling around the world to speak and to minister.
In December I was in India, then Italy in January, Israel in February, and, if I get my visa in time, Nigeria this month. In addition, there were many stateside trips as well, some of them on very short notice.
But she has never had any problem with my travel schedule, as long as I’m focused when I’m home, and she kept our house in order when our kids were younger and living at home with us.
She knows I’m engaged in God’s work, and as long as we stay connected, she’s perfectly happy to be alone when I’m away. I don’t take this for granted.
Fifth, she’s very forgiving.
She has forgiven people who hurt her deeply and forgiven me for my many lapses, like promising her I’d take care of something, only to forget (just to mention one of my more common failings). As long as I own up to my mistakes honestly and quit making silly excuses, she will immediately forgive.
Sixth, she’s incredibly loyal.
She is my friend for life, and that’s that.
And if she believes something is right, nothing can move her and no one can intimidate her.
Of course, like every human being on the planet, she has her flaws.
But when I think of my life and the person God would choose for me, it is Nancy, without a doubt. As she is quick to affirm, I could have made a real mess of things without her. (Said with a smile.)