Robyn Dykstra: But I said to the Lord, “I- I just am so needy. I am so broken it feels like there’s nothing left of me. This man has… is such a big part of me. I- I- I feel Your presence, but what- what am I… what do I do?”
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John Fuller: Losing a spouse is such an emotional, confusing time, but God can show up even in those hard moments. And you’ll hear more today about that on Focus on the Family with Focus president, Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: Last time, John, we heard the first half of this amazing testimony from Robyn Dykstra who grew up in a- a good home that was missing a key ingredient, faith. And we heard how Robyn dropped out of college and became a cocktail waitress, married a gangster and then escaped from him when he became abusive. And if you missed part one yesterday, uh, please, get in touch with us and we can send you the entire message on CD or audio download, or you can get the Focus on the Family app for your smartphone.
John: Yeah. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, or you can find those resources and more at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: Well, Robyn eventually reconnected with an old boyfriend who was a very strong Christian and she accepted Christ mainly so that they could get married. Her nickname for him was, get this, Hot and Hunky (laughing) and today we’re picking up the story after the birth of their first son, when the Lord finally got Robyn’s full attention.
John: Mm-hmm. Uh, here now is Robyn Dykstra, and as you might’ve guessed if you have young children nearby, you might wanna use your earbuds or listen later via our podcast or our daily broadcast app.
Robyn: When the doctor put that child on my chest, something in my heart broke open and I thought, “I don’t even know you and I would die for you.” How… what is that? And God continued to use that baby to demonstrate what love looked like. And then one night He came big. I was in the nursery and I was rocking the child, it was the middle of the night, the moon was coming in through Jake’s bedroom window and I was just enjoying a magical moment.
I thought, “How did I get here? How does a woman like me end up in this nice house with a husband who adores her? And this, the sniffy baby? I mean look at what great work I did. Look. How did I end up here?” And that’s when I heard the voice of God for the first time. He said one thing, “Robyn, what will you tell that child about Me?”
If I had anticipated God’s arrival at all, it would not have been, “Robyn, what will you tell that child about Me?” It would’ve been more like, “Hey, you! Yes, the big mess. You. You, what do you have to say for yourself? And what do you think you’re going to tell that child about Me?” That’s how I would’ve anticipated the Lord coming.
But He didn’t. There was all this gentleness, this invitational tone, “Robyn, what are you going to tell that child about Me?” But there was plenty of authority. I knew that I was going to have to give an answer. And then just like that, it was gone. All that night I wrestled with that question and I thought, “What am I gonna say? What am I gonna say?” What am I gonna say?”
And then it occurred to me that there are places where you can learn stuff about God, and I hadn’t spent a lot of time in church, but I knew where they were. So, that next morning I called the church that Hot and Hunky attended and I said that I was looking for some information about God. How do I learn more about God?
And this nice lady said that they had a Bible study for women and that I should come. They provided childcare and curriculum, all I needed was a Bible and a pencil. And I said, “Sign me up for that.” Well, that night at dinner I say to Hot and Hunky, “Guess what I did today?” But he said, “What did you do?” And I said, “I signed up for a class to learn about God at your church.”
This man should have played poker for a living, because he just said, “Isn’t that wonderful.” When on the inside you know he was going, “Hallelujah, hallelujah, ha, ha, ha.”
Robyn: Haaa. You know, in his head the angels started singing. I said, “Yes, I am going to go and I need a new textbook. They use the Bible there.”
Robyn: … and I- I need a new one, I thought maybe I could use yours, but I can’t. You have wrecked it, it is all marked up.
Robyn: So, he said, “You take some money and you go to the Christian bookstore and you get yourself a Bible.” And I said, “You Christians have your own bookstores?”
Robyn: “Wow, there’s a lot more to this than I reckoned with.” But I got my Bible and I went to this Bible study and it was one of those big encounters where there’s a gob of women in a big room like this, and there’s some women up at front and she just goes on and on about, “Na, na, na,” about the Bible, “Na, na, na, God, na, na, na, Jesus.” And, you know, it’s all like a foreign language pretty much to me (laughs). And then after she was done bossing us-
Robyn: … then she would release us to go into small groups where we would discuss our homework. Well, I walked into my small group, which had been meeting for several weeks by that time, and everyone stopped talking because there was a new person who entered and that’s what you do. You’re gracious, you- you- you’re- you’re engaging and then you- you… someone walks in and you turn, and- and there’s this, “Oh, she’s with us,” look, right?
Robyn: Because I didn’t look like them, I didn’t sound like them, I didn’t dress like them, I didn’t even smell like them. I di-… I mean I was just obviously new. And those women were the best. What they did is they took a deep breath and they took me on as a project and they never made me feel like one.
And they started teaching me how to live for Christ. They taught me how to believe in Jesus, how to live a life worthy of His death. They represented Jesus to me by being glorious women of God. And the first thing they told me about God is that He loves me, and I had never heard that before.
I mean I don’t know how long it’s been since you stood on the promise that God loves you. Yes, He loves you. I’ve been a Packer fan all my life and I saw the placards, John 3:16, I did not know it was a Bible verse. But that Bible verse that they took me to says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, and whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” Verse 17 says, “For God did not send His Son to condemn it, but to save the world.”
Those little ladies said, “God loves you just as you are. Robyn, there’s not one thing you could do that would make Him stop loving you, or make Him love you anymore. He knows everything that you do, every thought in your head, and He loves you magnificently.” That was good news for me. She said, “But He loves you too much to leave you the way you are. He would like so much more for you than you’re settling for.”
I said, “Well, what’s the next step?” And she said, “Well, we’re gonna have to deal with that sin. Everybody has sin, Robyn, all of us have sin. I don’t know what yours are, but every one of us have sin.” And she took me to 1 John 1:9, “If you confess your sin, God is faithful and just to forgive you of all your unrighteousness and purify you from all your sin.”
And I said, “Okay, what does that mean?” She said, “Well, you’ve got to confess your sins.” I said, “Like all of them?
Robyn: She said, “Well, as many as you can remember. As many as you can remember. And- and when you confess them, then you can receive forgiveness.” And she was tough. She said, “You can’t just say, ‘Lord, forgive me for all my sins.’ Oh no, got to confess them specifically.” She said, “If you confess them specifically and- and receive forgiveness for those sins, then you’re really done with them and they won’t have a hold on you anymore. And it’s very likely that when you confess them, they will sound so ugly coming out of your mouth that you won’t wanna say it again.”
And she was right. So, I confessed my sin and she said, “There’s another verse that I want you to hold onto, and it’s 2 Corinthians 5:17.” 2 Cor 5:17. Yes. And it is, “Therefore whoever is in Christ is a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come.” She said, “You can start over. God redeems your life from the pit that you were living in, to put you on solid ground now.”
And I thought, “That is remarkable good news.” I don’t know if- if anybody else in the room has had such a big mess in their life, or they’ve made such a dumb mistake, or they’ve lived such a life of scandalousness that when the Lord says, “I forgive you ’cause I love you and I… because I made you, and you can have a fresh start,” I don’t know if you can even begin to fathom what it feels like to the girl I was.
It was like the heavens did open and the angels sang over me. Well, after that, I was on fire for the Lord. The Holy Spirit came in power and I just kept… things just kept occurring to me all the time. That’s how He moves for me. I know some of you have little checks in your spirit or, you know, something will occur to you, but I just had things happening all the time, and- and the Holy Spirit just started helping me through the… His- His occurrences and through these women in my Bible study, to shift some gears so that I, little areas of nastiness fell off.
I quit smoking, I quit drinking, I quit using drugs, I quit flirting with men I wasn’t married to. I wore skirts that I could sit down with without, you know, longer skirts.
Robyn: And, um, and I- I just went after the Bible with everything in me. I just couldn’t get enough of it. And it wasn’t very long before the ladies in my Bible study, by the end of the year they were like, “You need to be teaching the Bible. You…” I mean they gave me a… they gave me a co-leader, ’cause they, you know, they can’t just set- set a- a new Christian free and- and… with new… other new Christians.
But they, um, they set me up so that I was teaching classes and- and- and this is why, because when you’re on fire for the Lord, you can’t help but talk about Him. And I could not shut up about Him. And I didn’t know much, but you don’t have to know much to teach somebody who knows nothing. And I knew that God loved me. He loved me to the moon and back, that’s what it says in Psalm 103, He loves me to the moon and back, He extended forgiveness for all my sins, I could have a fresh start whenever I needed it, and my life was redeemed. And that’ll- that’ll start ya. That’ll get you going.
John: You’re listening to Robyn Dykstra on Focus on the Family, and we have a CD of this complete two part presentation. We’re making that available for a donation of any amount to the ministry of Focus on the Family today. Uh, just call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459, or you can donate and request that CD at our website, focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Let’s return now to more from Robyn Dykstra.
Robyn: Well, after that, I- I just became a new person. This- this old girl, we just buried her and left her in the grave, and I started, um, becoming who God wanted me to be through the help of these women in my group and through the guiding of the Holy Spirit. And it wasn’t very long before Hot and Hunky’s momma actually started to like me.
Robyn: People were calling me for godly advice and it just felt like the world couldn’t get any better. We had two little boys by then, a cat that didn’t get into the trash, Hot and Hunky was doing great at his job, I was happier than I’d ever been in my whole life. And that’s when the world came tumbling down. That’s when my sweet man died of a heart attack. Yeah.
He was 39. I know. It wasn’t a good day for me. Um, our boys were seven and four. But the Lord came in power, and He said, “I will be with you.” And I felt that peace, that peace that you… that surpasses understanding. Has anybody else… you’re supposed to be a- a cuckoo nut, and you have peace. Oh, I’m the only one. Okay.
Robyn: Oh, okay, good. Okay, good. Good. All right. But I said to the Lord, “I- I just am so needy. I am so broken it feels like there’s nothing left of me. This man has… is such a big part of me. I- I feel Your presence, but what am I… what do I do?” And that’s when He surrounded me with women who looked just like you, and they brought me chicken salad sandwiches and they took my kids to the circus and they celebrated my birthday with me, and they prayed, and they prayed, and they prayed, and I made it.
God was with me in spirit, He was with me in His presence, but He was with me in His people, and I made it. And after about a year, I said to the Lord, “You know (laughs), I worked really hard to learn how to be a good wife. Don’t You think it’s an awful waste of raw talent to leave me single?”
Robyn: And He must’ve thought so too, ’cause I got married to an Adventure Boy. Oh my gosh, Adventure Boy came with a plane, a motorcycle and a passport and he said it’s absolutely ridiculous for you to own a vehicle you don’t know how to operate. So, first I got my pilot’s license so I can fly a single engine airplane. And then I got a motorcycle that matched… it was the same color as my nail polish.
Robyn: And- and then we started putting stamps in that passport and it just felt great. We’ve been married about two years and Craig took a- a routine flight from Michigan to Pennsylvania to pick up a friend at a camp who was pastoring there, and he didn’t make it. The plane just disappeared off the face of the earth. And we searched and we searched and we searched for weeks, but there was not good news, there was no good news, there was no good news.
And finally after weeks of searching, his plane was discovered by the glorious people of the Pennsylvania Civil Air Patrol, and the FAA determined that he had made a pilot error, that he’d flown into a thunderstorm and had tried to correct and the wind had picked up his little plane and thrown it into the side of Jacks Mountain. And when they found him, it was very clear that he’d been killed on impact.
And I said to the Lord, “What do You have for me now?” And He said, “You can trust Me.” And I said (laughs), do you ever do that? “God, come on.” “You can trust Me,” He said. It took me right to Proverbs 3:5 and 6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, acknowledge Me in every way and I will set your path straight.” Well, there was a lot that I didn’t understand.
Burying two husbands in four years was not the agenda that I had on my to-do list. But I looked at how faithful He has been to me in the past and then I looked in the Bible and I saw all these remarkable accounts of men and women who had trusted him in wild circumstances, quite frankly wild circumstances. If you were in charge of the Israelites and you had… you were Joshua and- and God said, “Go- go into the Promise Land, it’s time.” And you’re like, “Yeah, here we go.”
Robyn: And you cross the Jordan River on dry land and the first obstacle that you see is Jericho, the walled city of Jericho. And you go, “God, what do we about that?” And He goes, “Walk around it bu- bunch of times.”
Robyn: “And then what?” “Oh, the walls will come down.”
Robyn: Or if you were Mary and the Lord came to you, the angle came to you and said, “We have surveyed all the women of all time and we have determined that you, God has determined that you are the precious woman who will carry His Son.” Would you think that you would end up ostracized, ridiculed, trekking nine months pregnant across the land to have that child in a stable?
‘Cause that’s not what I would’ve pictured if I were carrying the Son of God. There are many, many, many accounts where God has asked His people to trust Him. And if we do, we… He leads us through to a place that is a… like a Promised Land. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense, but He will always be faithful. He is always trustworthy. And He has a good plan for us.
Y’all have Jeremiah 29 on something. You’ve got it on a bookmark, you’ve got it on wall art, you’ve got it tattooed somewhere I don’t wanna see.
Robyn: You’ve got it somewhere. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and give you a good future. Not to harm you, but to give you a good hope.” And I did not know what the plan for my life was going to be after I buried Adventure Boy. I just could not imagine being married again. I couldn’t imagine that anybody would love me as much as the one before. I couldn’t imagine that God would- would have me be married again, because I thought He would leave me single so that He would get the glory, because when I buried a, um, Hot and Hunky and I married Adventure Boy, everybody in my church went, “Oh, thank goodness you’re married,” ’cause that solves everything said no married woman ever.
Robyn: I just thought He’d leave me single so that he would get the credit. And to be fair, I mean really to be fair, you bury two husbands in four years, the line to date you is very short.
Robyn: But I was in this Bible study with a bunch of other motorcyclists and there was this guy who’d been in the class for about a year and a half, and he was an interesting soul. He came late to Jesus, but he was all in. He was one of those mature believers that just dove into the deep end instead of tiptoeing in till the water has adjusted.
And he- he had read somewhere that you’re supposed to be nice to widows. And so he came to me and he said, “Look, I’m- I’m really handy, I come from a long line of builders, and if there’s anything in your house that you need fixed, would… I would just like to serve you as a- a Chris-… a brother in Christ to a widow in need.” And I looked at him and I thought, “Hmm,” I said, “Do you babysit?”
Robyn: Because I knew this man always wore camo and cowboy boots and he talked about deer hunting camp and- and sharpening knives and starting fires without matches and I thought, “My kids would really find you interesting.”
Robyn: So I said, “Do you babysit?” And he said, “Don’t teenage girls do that?”
Robyn: I said, “Well, yeah, but I think you’d be good for my boys and I would really love it if they’d spend time with you.” And he went, “Okay.”
Robyn: Well, he started spending time with my boys and he took them to all kinds of testosterone hangouts. He took them to gun and knife shows and pawn shops and he played army and let them play with sharp objects when he was at my house. And they loved him. And they said, “Momma, can we keep him for a pet?”
Robyn: And I said, “No, we canno-… well, maybe we could.”
Robyn: And we started doing a lot of things in groups. We continued to do stuff together. He- he continued to put a bigger and bigger umbrella over my home and car maintenance and all that stuff, and really we grew into each other in the nicest possible way. And he asked me to marry him, and I said, “Well, that’s great, but I need you to know what you’re getting into.”
Robyn: Because I realized that he had never been married before, he was only 37. He’d… but he had never been married before and he had never had any children. And I, by that time, was 45 and- and my boys were 12 and nine, which is no good time to start parenting anybody, right? So, I sat him down and I said, “Look, I just need you to know what you’re getting into, because I’m going into this thing called menopause and there’s a reason they call it men-o-pause..”
Robyn: ‘Cause- ’cause women can be kind of s- s- squirrely and cranky.
Robyn: And my boys are- are 12 and nine now and- and they are going into this thing called puberty and it’s ugly. It’s just ugly. So, I just need you to know what- what you’re getting into. And he said, “Robyn, I love you and I love those boys. How hard can it be?”
Robyn: So, I married him quick before he figured it out.
Robyn: And we’ve been married for 17 years. I call him, his name is Dave, but I call him Mr. Forever, because there was the Wild Man, there was Hot and Hunky, there was Adventure Boy, and now there is Mr. Forever.
John: Well, that’s a happy ending to this story of love and loss and perseverance with the Lord and, uh, what a treat to hear from Robyn Dykstra today on Focus on the Family.
Jim: Wow, John, what an amazing journey Robyn has been on. And it’s so encouraging to hear how the Lord carried her through the agony of losing two husbands in the space of just four years, plus raising two sons through all of that trauma.
Jim: What a difficult road. And Robyn’s story illustrates how vital it is to have a deep, personal, minute by minute relationship with the Lord. Not only did He bring Robyn through her tragedies, but He provided her with a wonderful husband who is also her partner in ministry. Uh, Dave and Robyn travel together as she speaks at conferences and retreats across the country. And, you know, the big neon sign I take away from Robyn’s testimony is it’s Jesus. Jesus makes the difference. And if you’d like to become a believer in Jesus Christ, or perhaps you’d like to recommit your life to the Lord, why don’t you pray with me right now? Lord Jesus, I agree that I am a sinner. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I repent and turn away from my past transgressions. I open the door of my life and receive you as my Savior and Lord. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen. And if you prayed that prayer with me, well done. Welcome to the family of God. Uh, please get in touch with us and ask for a free booklet called Coming Home. It will explain more about the Christian faith and give you some next steps to take.
John: Mm-hmm. Yeah, we’d love to hear from you and, uh, our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459, or look for that Coming Home booklet at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Next time, Ken Swarner shares some humorous family stories and defines our number one job as parents.
Ken Swarner: Our job is to love our kids unconditionally. In this crazy world, the kids need somebody who loves them unconditionally.
Ken: And that’s our job.
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