It was during our second home assignment that God chose to splash somber colors on my canvas. The seminary in which we had been teaching in the Philippines requested that both of us take a two-year furlough to complete higher degrees. That was our plan. We settled in Winona Lake, Indiana. Robert, my husband, enrolled in the doctoral program at Grace Theological Seminary, and I worked toward the completion of my Master’s degree.
Six months later Robert went out to jog in the wee hours of the night. My door bell rang. Three people were standing outside. They entered, stood in my kitchen and told me that my husband’s body was found on the street. He had dropped dead of a heart attack. Though the colors seemed very muddled at that moment, confidence in God’s faithfulness gave assurance, confidence, and peace in the midst of sorrow. It was as though God’s comforting assurance flooded over me. “He has done all things well” (Mark 7:37). “His work is perfect” (Deut. 32:4). I had taught these truths for years. Now I had to experience them for myself. Christ lived in the peace of His Father’s will. He would help me do the same.
My responsibility was to example these assurances before my eleven and fourteen year-old boys. Together we learned many lessons which proved that God was with us. Our canvases were not finished.
One afternoon, 16 months after my husband’s death, having finished my MS degree, I was shedding tears of lonesomeness in my Kansas home. God was very precious to me, but I was human and I was lonely. Seventy-two hours later I was in Indiana listening to Dr. John C. Whitcomb, Robert’s former teacher, tell me something that shocked me. He said, “Before Senie (his beloved wife) went to be with the Lord, she told me that there was no one else she would rather have to be the mother of our four children than Norma Whitcomb.” That was my name! Since God had indicated this to be some of His brushstrokes on my canvas, I accepted. And those strokes were bold and of the brightest color. I reveled in them. A widower and a widow became “heirs together of the grace of God” (Rom. 8:17).
I did not return to the Philippines as I had expected to do. My mission field came to me in the form of six teenagers. We married on January 1,1971, and six children, ages 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16, with varied backgrounds, experiences, lifestyles, and rearing, became “ours.” I would be remiss to say that rearing a blended family had no hurdles. Through it all we learned. Today all six are walking with the Lord. In 2014 we had a family reunion. That Sunday morning as 32 of our family members filled two long church pews, my heart rejoiced to see the accomplishments of my years of missionary efforts: each one a canvas on which God was painting. “To God be the glory, great things He has done.” “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).
After 39 years of seminary teaching, our ministry changed from teaching to traveling far and wide across the States and around the world to spread the news that the Sovereign Master is calling people to believe in His Son’s saving work.
For 45 years we have been privileged to follow the Lord’s call. He had promises for us, and He continues to fulfill them: “Even to your old age I am He, and to gray hairs I will carry you” (Isa. 46:4). Praise Him!
My CD, BRUSHSTROKES OF THE MASTER ARTIST, supports our evangelistic ministry, especially to hurting women. Order from Whitcomb Ministries 317-250-5469 or website HERE.