Grounded Podcast

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Loving God’s Word in Your Actual Life, with Tricia Lott Williford

God’s Word contains exactly what you need today, no matter your age or life stage. Tricia Lott Williford fell in love with the Bible during a painful season of her life. She joins us to share how she found hope and encourages us to get into Scripture on a regular basis. Learn how to love God’s Word in your actual life.

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Episode Notes:

This Book Is for You: Loving God’s Words in Your Actual Life by Tricia Lott Williford

Join us for Revive ’21

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Introduction: Praying for Our World

Portia Collins: Good morning, I beg you stop what you're doing right now and pray for believers in Afghanistan. We will do that momentarily on Grounded. This is a weekly podcast and videocast brought to you by Revive Our Hearts. I'm Portia Collins.

Dannah Gresh: I'm Dannah Gresh. And if we sound a little solemn this morning, it's because a) Erin Davis is not with us, and we miss her. This the first episode of Grounded she's missed since we started last year. And you'll remember that we started to respond to the headlines. We wanted to bring hope and perspective to what we were reading in the headlines. And I know this, that Erin Davis from her vacation spot today is praying because the headlines today are crying out for women who love Jesus to get on their knees and pray.

Listen, I know that you’ve got stuff of your own happening in your life. Yesterday, I had the migraine of all migraines. I was texting my girl Portia and saying you've got to pray for me that I could do Grounded tomorrow. My husband was driving me home. We were visiting the in-laws over the weekend. Sometimes food helps me when I have a migraine. And so, I was like I gotta have food. Well, we stopped. We picked up a hamburger. We got on the road, took one bite of that hamburger, and found they had the lettuce, the tomato, the cheese, the onion, but they forgot the hamburger. Okay? Okay? First world problem, my friend. 

You know what, at that moment, the Lord arrested my heart because I wanted to be angry. I'm in pain, Lord, why can't I at least have a hamburger? And then I remembered what I've been reading about my brothers and sisters in Haiti that's been rocked by another horrific earthquake and has yet another tropical storm heading its way any day now. There are believers in that right now. 

And then, Afghanistan. Pray for Afghanistan. Lord, these are the big issues that need to be on our hearts today. And you might be having issues. Maybe there's no beef in your hamburger bun, or maybe your kids didn't get ready for school on time this morning. Maybe your husband's out of work. Those issues matter. But this morning, I want to turn your heart towards our fellow believers, especially in Afghanistan. Yesterday, the Taliban, an extremist Islamic group prone to violence and hatred towards Christianity, also, extremely abusive towards women; they forcefully took over the government of Afghanistan. We want to ask you to join us to pray for them. 

Open Door USA has listed the nation of Afghanistan as the second most horrifying country in terms of Christian persecution and Taliban expression. As they take over, it's going to be worse. But there will be more of it because in the last 20 years, God has been moving and there are more believers in that country today. Portia, why don’t read what Wikipedia has to say about the number of believers in Afghanistan?

Portia: Yeah, I'm gonna read that. Some confirmed reports state that there are 1,000 to 18,000 Afghan Christians practicing their faith secretly in the country. A 2015 study estimates some 3,300 Christians from a Muslim background reside in the country.

Dannah: Yeah, so we're talking 1,000s, not hundreds of 1,000s, maybe 10,000. And to be blunt, they're facing firing squads and decapitation today; that's what our brothers and sisters may be facing. And when one thing happens to believers, it happens to all of us. We are one body. So, I asked you please pray for them with us right now. Portia, would you just take a moment and lift them up to the Lord?

Portia: Absolutely, absolutely. Father, Lord, we pray that You will be with our brothers and sisters and Afghanistan. Lord, we pray that you will be with all of us, but especially so them Lord. We know that this is a terrifying time. And they are coming up against an immense amount of persecution. 

Lord, I'm just reminded of Your Word in Joshua, the first chapter, where you, you remind us that to be strong and courageous, to not be frightened or dismayed because You are our God. You're with us wherever we go. So, it doesn't mean we can have everything against us, everything. But if You are with us, Lord, we know that we have everything that we need. So Lord, I pray that You will be with these brothers and sisters, comfort them, protect them, keep them in peace. It is in Christ's name that I pray, amen.

Dannah: We hope you'll pray throughout the day for them. And we hope maybe you'll push the share button on your Facebook page or share this through YouTube. Because we need people praying for believers in Afghanistan right now. Tricia Lott Williford is with us today. She's an author. She says the Bible is useful in our actual lives, no matter what we're facing, whether it's persecution in the Middle East or the first week back to school in the United States. God's Word is a lamp to light our path. She learned that during one of the most horrific times of her life. But first, Portia, I know the headlines are bad in terms of Afghanistan and Haiti. But have you heard any good news this weekend?

Good News

Portia: Well, yes, I have. Dannah, I have heard some good news. As you continue about your day. Like I said, we want to want you to keep praying for our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan. I can't share names, but one 30-something man living in exile reports just how secretive believers must be. He remembers, “My parents always put an extra plate at the table for guests. I said to them, we are poor. How can we have others?” 

He says his father replied, “Jesus shared everything with others.” 

He says then I asked, “Who is Jesus?” 

And he said, “We are Christians, not a word more.” Not a word more. 

Even with their children, Afghan believers must be wise with their words. Well, their son did come to faith in Christ. And at some point, they got him out of the country as a child to live his faith in freedom. He now resides in Italy, and through WhatsApp . . . If you've not heard of WhatsApp, it's like a little chat program that many of us have on our phone. WhatsApp provides Christian content to believers. These are real people with faces and names. And we just can't share them without risking their lives. But we must pray for them. Pray earnestly for them. 

And here comes the good news on a dark day. It comes from yet another Afghan believer living outside the nation. I want to read this just as it's written. So, listen closely, okay.

“We've heard reports of an openness among Muslims who are watching what the Taliban is doing. Remember, the Taliban says, ‘We are the best Muslims, we are following Muhammad the way he should be followed.” And so, when they come in, there is violence and abuse of women. People look at that and say, ‘Wait a minute, if that's what the best Muslims do, what other teachings are out there?’” 

I will say it again, pray for the believers in Afghanistan.

Dannah: And I will say it with you, Portia, let's keep praying. That's it. That's news that you won't hear on other outlets, isn't it? That God is using this hardship to open the hearts of people who may have been resistant to the name of Jesus Christ. And yet, now they're looking at what's happening in their country and saying, maybe just maybe there's something different? Well, sisters, if we're going to be effective prayer warriors, we've got to get grounded in God's Word. So, open your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 12:12–13. Portia read us some truth for our day.

Grounded in God’s Word: 1 Cor. 12:12–13

Portia: Alright. It says, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”

Dannah: Okay, you know that one is a familiar verse to many of us where one body, the whole universal Church of Jesus is one. We are the body and Christ is the head of that body. And I think this applies today in a really special way. 

If we are the body, what's happening to our brothers and sisters in Haiti is happening to us. What's happening to our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan is happening to us. What's happening with your sister across the city that you live in, that's happening to you. But let me go back a few years to another time when believers, God's chosen people, were being persecuted in another country, in the face of Nazi persecution of Jews. 

You probably are familiar with Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He once wrote this,

 “No one can become a new man except by entering the church and becoming a part of the body of Christ. It is impossible to become a new man as a solitary individual. The new man means more than the individual believer, after he has been justified and sanctified.”

It means the Church; it means the body of Christ. In fact, it means Christ Himself, the head of the body, along with the hands of Jesus, the feet of Jesus, the heart of Jesus. That's who’s suffering in Haiti; that's who’s suffering in Afghanistan today. That's who's suffering in another home around the corner from you. If they're believers, that's happening to us. 

What happens to one of us happens to all of us happens to Jesus. So please, I beg you, pray, pray, not for your own needs today, but pray for the needs of other believers. Now listen, when we started this episode, started planning it a few weeks ago, we knew that we wanted to talk to Tricia Lott Williford. We knew that she was going to be our guest. We didn't know what the headlines would be. But here's the good thing, God knew. 

And as we get grounded with God's people, today, we're going to be visited by a wonderful author who fell in love with the Bible during a very painful time in her life, which is what we hope will be going to be happening for women all across the globe today, no matter what country they're in, no matter what circumstances they're in. Her new book is titled This Book is for You: Loving God's Word in Your Actual Life. Welcome, Tricia. We are so delighted to have you here with us today.

Interview with Tricia Lott Williford: Loving God’s Word

Tricia Lott Williford: Good morning. Good morning. What a great conversation. I'm so glad to be part of it today.

Dannah: Well, Tricia, I am just getting to know you and am already falling in love with you. I spent a lot of time this week learning about you and your heart. I learned that you fell in love with God's Word during a time when some pretty bad things were happening in your life. Can you tell us about that?

Tricia: Yes, I can. Things got really sad, really fast in my life. We were smooth sailing along with two kids in the house and the minivan and the dog and everything seemed to be okay. And I really thought that was created because I had been so obedient—I had followed the rules of God, I had found His favor, because I had chased after everything He had ever asked me to do. 

I deceived myself into thinking that I could create the sense of security around me. All of a sudden, my husband got very sick very fast. He was sick for just 12 hours, the doctors thought he had the flu. They sent him home from the hospital. They said he won't die from this, but he's gonna feel like it. It was two days before Christmas, and he died in my arms the next morning. And what they thought was the flu was actually an infection in his bloodstream that attacked his heart, attacked his lungs, and he was very suddenly gone. 

Our little boys were five years old and three years old. And as I said, it was two days before Christmas. I was 31 years old, and suddenly a single mom—a widowed single mom.

Dannah: Oh, Tricia. What a grief-stricken day. That must have been . . . I don't know too many women who could tell me that their husband died in their arms at home, especially after they just been told that he's going to be fine. I can't imagine what that would be like. I would love to have coffee with you and hear all the details. Because I know that there's a woman right now, who's listening that are in circumstances that just feel a whole lot like that they did for you. How is it that God used that to cause you to fall in love with His Word?

Tricia: Well, I felt Dannah, like everything in my life tilted at a 45 degree angle. Everything was just not right. And there were some invisible things that were still true. I knew it in my spirit. But everything that I looked at felt like, “What am I supposed to do now? What am I supposed to do now?” 

I had grown up in the church. I had read the Bible. But I didn't really feel like I wanted to dive into it right then Dannah. I just felt like I couldn't. I didn't know where to begin. I didn't know what to do with it. Everything in the Old Testament felt like an angry God who punishes people who disobey the law. That made me feel like, “Did my husband die because I disobeyed? Did I get something wrong? Did I make God angry?” 

I didn't really feel like I could read the New Testament because that was filled with this gracious loving Jesus who seemed to be walking about town handing out miracles to people whose faith was strong enough. And I felt like my faith was not strong enough to save the life of my husband. I'm living in this tension between these two. 

And so, I opened somewhere in the middle of the book, sort of in the middle of the book of Psalms. I went to my favorite coffee shop, I took my journal, I took my Bible, and I took some pens. I just started copying the book of Psalms. And I didn't know how to talk to this God who had let the bottom fall out of my world. When God has given you everything you have, and then he takes it away, that “sovereignty” card feels like one hard piece to hold in your hands. 

So I started copying the book of Psalms so that I could borrow the words of the psalmist and learn how to talk to God again. And here's what I found, Dannah. I found that every single emotion is covered in the book of Psalms, every single emotion is addressed. 

Dannah: Yeah.

Tricia: Some of them are worshipful. Some of them are joyful. Some of them are declaring the powerful name of Jesus. Some of them are saying that this is the worst I've ever known. I would rather die than live through this. For example, Psalm 88, from beginning to end, doesn't have a redeeming sentence, but I will praise the Lord but the sun will rise again. Like it just allows us to live in our lament and to ask God, “How long does this continue? How long must this go on?”

What I learned from that is that if He made me, He's bigger than me. And if He knows that, He knows my emotions. Sometimes that's the very first step of intimacy with Him, is opening these words in my actual life, and bringing my actual emotions. I don't have to polish them and get them clean before I can come before the sovereign God who is big enough to hold all the pieces.

Dannah: He is big enough to handle all you can bring to Him, what is in you, not what should be. I think a lot of times when we're on those devastating days, those devastating periods of time in our lives, we think, Oh, I need to really pray the proper words, and not the words I'm really feeling. But God can handle what you're really feeling. 

I love that you mentioned the Psalms, what a wonderful thing. These are part of the ordained Words of God. They're God's words, but they're also the words of believers who have walked through times in their lives when they were rocked, their faith was rocked, just like ours is being rocked. So, they're their words; they’re their prayers. It is the one part of the Bible where it's not only the words of God, but the words of other believers. And you took that power, and you made them your words when you didn't have words to take to God. 

What a powerful example. What would you say to someone who feels a little bit like you did, when you were in that time of devastation? You're looking at the Old Testament going can't I handle it, you're looking at the New Testament going I can't handle it. And God's Word just feels really difficult to connect to when you're in ground zero. What would you say to that woman today?

Tricia: Oh, what I would say to her is one of the things that is absolutely true, just as you said Dannah. These words that were true for this believer in the past, who wrote this song or wrote this poem in the hardest night, in the darkest night of their soul, the Holy Spirit was there in that moment, and the Holy Spirit who resides within you is with you in your moment. And just as you talked this morning about the believers in Afghanistan and in Haiti, the Holy Spirit is with them in their moment. 

Dannah: Amen.

Tricia: And the truth is that He is the God that is bigger than anything that we can understand or imagine. Here's one of my favorite things about Jesus. When He left the earth, He said, I am leaving with you the Holy Spirit, who will be your advocate and who will be your intercessor. If we believe, and I do, that God made us and Jesus walked among us and the Holy Spirit lives within us, then the Holy Spirit is kind of secretly my favorite of the Trinity. Because I understand His voice, I hear it, I hear it within me, and I know it. I know that voice. And so, I can say to that Holy Spirit, I don't know how to pray right now. 

Dannah: Yes.

Tricia: I don't know how to pray for my sisters who live across the city. I don't know how to pray for my sisters who live across the world. I don't know how I'm going to get through this thing today. We can call on the Holy Spirit to pray for us and to pray for them and to intercede on our behalf. We are invited to do that. Sometimes that puts a handle on a door that feels locked and gives us the opportunity to say, “Oh, this is my way in. This is my way in.”

Dannah: Wow, Tricia, I could just have coffee with you every morning. Listen, as we think about believers in Afghanistan and Haiti who are facing hardships, let's bring it here to the United States. We're facing lots of opinions. We're facing the Delta variant. We're facing news that we don't really want to read. What's a Bible verse right now that you're clinging to as an American sister in Christ that's really encouraging you as we walk through these very dividing times?

Tricia: Oh, my goodness. What a beautiful question. There's so many that flooded my mind. I am thinking right now of the words “unfailing love.” And I love how that is a theme of all of the Psalms, that's just woven throughout. When I watched for it, it shows up over and over and over and over again, and to consider to sing of His unfailing love to talk about His unfailing love to claim it when I don't feel it, to remember that God is still in this with us is such a reminder of the fact that I don't mean I don't have to be afraid, I don't have to worry. 

The hard things have been answered and have been taken care of. t I've been thinking about the verse in Psalms that says, “For I know that God is on my side” (Psalm 118:6). Now, we can usually take that to mean He's on my side, not on your side, right? We serve and love and praise a God who is faithful and unchanging. He loves me and He loves you, even if we don't agree on this. 

Dannah: That's right. 

Tricia: Right now, the world is filled with people who are unsure. And sometimes, as Bernie Brown says, “We get scary when we're scared.” That's kind of what's happening. A lot of people are feeling scared. And what we can remember is, “I know that God is on my side. He is beside me.” But He's also beside you, not because we have to be warring against each other. But because we can be walking in unfailing love, and loving one another knowing that He's with me, and He's with you.

Dannah: Amen. Oh,Tricia, you filled my heart up this morning. It's better than a cup of caffeine to hear a sister talk about her love for the Word of Christ. Thank you for being with us. 

Tricia: Thank you so much. God bless you guys. 

Dannah: Tricia Lott Williford is the cohost of the Let's Talk Soon podcasts along with your brother Rob. You can check out her newest book, This Book Is for You: Loving God's Word in Your Actual Life. If you enjoyed her as much as I do, I know you're gonna check out those two things.

Portia: Yeah. Well, if today's program charged you up and motivated you to get in the Word, get in the Word. It's because it feels so good to be united as one body. You know, if you longed to be with other women who pray beyond their own needs and truly love God's Word, and now know that is my thing. Like, I love God's Word, and I want to be with other believers who love God's Word. Well, I know just the thing that you can do to foster that. 

Dannah: Tell us about it.

Portia: Join me, Dannah, Erin, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, and a few thousand other women at Revive ’21. We are getting together in just a few weeks . . . like it is really rolling around. I've been looking at the calendar, like we are getting close. We're gonna get together to get grounded in Christ. 

And y'all know we are living just like Dannah said a few moments ago through some turbulent times—Delta variant, persecution across the world. I mean, it is so much the storms of life are raging around us. But guess what? We don't have to be shaken. We can get grounded in God's truth. We can stay grounded in God's truth. There are some limited spots available to join us in Indianapolis. I encourage you to go to ReviveOurHearts.com to find out more about Revive ’21. It's coming up this October. Meet us in Indianapolis. You can also check out the conference schedule and everything else at Revive21.com.

Dannah: That is something I'm so excited about Portia. You know, the other day I was listening to Shane and Shane. They're going to be our worship leaders at Revive ’21. I thought about that first moment, when I am worshiping with thousands of other women. I haven't been in that big of a corporate worship setting since before the pandemic. I've been with my church with a few 100 people. But I get chills at the thought of worshiping together with you and my other sisters in Indianapolis as Shane and Shane lead us. I hope you'll join us. 

Listen, the readers’ comments have been blowing up and people are praying. It's like the Lord already had you excited about praying for Afghanistan. Before we asked you to pray with us. You are saying that this just really was scratching an itch that you already had. And isn't that just like our Grounded sisters, Portia, that they'd already be praying, that we didn't have to call them to it? And we just got to do it together today. 

Also, several of our sisters, Cindy Anderson included, sent Tricia a great big electronic hug because it was exactly what they needed to hear today. I wish it could be a real hug, but it could be in a few weeks in Indianapolis. Join us there. We won't do electronic hugs or high fives, we’ll do it the real way.

Portia: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, I can't believe we're done with Grounded, already.

Dannah: That's a good FYI, but we're not done praying. We're gonna keep praying all day for our brothers and sisters.

Portia: Absolutely.

Dannah: Whoever the Lord puts on your heart. But get outside of yourself today and pray because somebody needs those prayers today.

Portia: Yes, absolutely. And join us next week. We're gonna have Jill Savage with us. She's gonna be here to encourage you when your marriage is on life support. That's another storm that many people are dealing with. So often, a lot of women don't want to talk about it or mention it. We're gonna go there. I can tell you she has so much to share, so much wisdom and encouragement. She found the perspective that she needed to weather a storm in her marriage, We want you to be here. Okay. Don't meet us here, beat us here. All right. Let's wait with hope together next week, on Grounded

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About the Hosts

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.

Portia Collins

Portia Collins

Portia Collins is a Christian Bible teacher and writer/blogger who enjoys studying and teaching Scripture.  Portia is the founder of "She Shall Be Called" (SSBC), a women’s ministry centered on helping women understand and embrace true biblical womanhood through solid study of God's Word. To learn more about SSBC, visit www.sheshallbecalled.com.  Portia and her husband, Mikhail, have a daughter and currently live in the Mississippi Delta. 

About the Guest

Tricia Lott Williford

Tricia Lott Williford

Tricia writes, blogs, cohosts the Let’s Talk Soon podcast with her brother Rob, and speaks about faith in the face of loss and hope when the miracle isn’t yours. With raw transparency, honest grief, laughable joy, and a captivating voice, she shares the hard pieces of her story—and the redemption God offers in the midst of it. Tricia is the author of Just. You. Wait.; You Can Do This; And Life Comes Back; and Let’s Pretend We’re Normal. She lives in Colorado with her family.