Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Being a "Missinary"

Leslie Basham: Teaching on the radio each weekday is a lot of work. Here’s how Nancy Leigh DeMoss does it.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: If we humble ourselves, God says He will pour out His grace on our lives. God’s grace is what gives us the desire (the motivation) and the power (the ability) to do what He has called us to do. But it only comes to those who recognize their need.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Tuesday, September 2.

We’ve been in a series called Remember Miriam. We’ll pick that back up on Thursday. But we’re taking a break because it’s valuable to step back every once in a while and reflect on what God has done.

That’s what we’re about to do with a special guest host.

Bob Lepine: Well, I hope nobody is confused as they hear me on Revive Our Hearts. I’m Bob Lepine, and most folks who hear me on the radio either hear me on FamilyLife Today, or, I’ve just recently started working with Dr. Easley at Moody on his radio program, In Context.

But it’s a thrill to be here with you today. Maybe we ought to explain how I wound up being on Revive Our Hearts today, and the relationship that FamilyLife has had with Revive Our Hearts since the beginning of the radio program. It really does actually go back to before the program began, doesn’t it?

Nancy: In fact, I can remember the day I was sitting in my home in Michigan and got a phone call from Dennis Rainey, who is the founder and president of FamilyLife Today. I had known him for a number of years.

He said, “We’ve been talking in our ministry, and we think there’s a need for another radio program that would be for women—Bible teaching for women by a woman. And we think God wants you to consider doing this program.”

I can remember saying, “You know, I’ve had a similar thought myself, that this would be a great idea to have such a program. But I think you’ve got the wrong person.”

This was not something I could have ever considered doing myself; and at times I’ve wondered, “What were we thinking when we got into this?” But more times than that—many more times than that—I have thanked the Lord not only for the idea but for the way that FamilyLife has been involved from the outset in helping to make Revive Our Hearts a possibility.

Bob: I don’t know if you’ve stopped to consider the significance of the numbers that we’re looking at today and tomorrow, but Revive Our Hearts is having its 7th birthday. You’re having your 50th birthday. And 7 and 50 are both biblically significant numbers, aren’t they?

Nancy: They are. I’ve thought about the 50 being a little different than the 7. Fifty—the only thing I can find about fifty in the Bible is that the priests were to retire at the age of 50. So I’m not sure . . .

Bob: Well, it’s the Year of Jubilee too.

Nancy: It’s the Year of Jubilee. I forgot that one. That’s actually more along the lines of what I’m thinking. I haven’t sensed any calling from the Lord to retire any time soon. But it is a year of celebration.

I’ve been trying to do that over the past year and even as I look into the days ahead, asking the Lord, “What are You wanting to say to me that’s fresh? How are You wanting to use my life, perhaps in different ways in this new season of life?”

Bob: Seven is a number of completion in the Scriptures, or a number of fullness. As we complete this seventh year of broadcasting for Revive Our Hearts, I know your heart is full because God has done a lot of remarkable, amazing things through this ministry.

Nancy: It has been quite a ride. It seems in a sense like it’s been a very, very long time. On the other hand, I can remember so clearly those early days, and I have so many wonderful memories and joys as I think back over what God has done through these past seven years.

Bob: While we’re on the number seven, I think you were seven years old when you wrote this note that I have in front of me. I’ve actually seen your handwritten copy of this in your home in Michigan.

Nancy: My staff framed it for me a number of years ago. It’s a letter I wrote to my parents in December of 1965. I was seven years of age. I don’t remember writing it, but I’m so glad my parents saved that letter.

Then years later I had it framed. It’s sitting in my living room. It’s been a great reminder of the heart that God put in me and what He was doing in my heart as a little girl.

Bob: Here’s what you wrote at age seven:

Dear Mommy and Daddy,

On Saturday I knew that God had touched my heart and wanted me to be a missinary for Him.

Nancy: Let me comment, by the way, that the word missinary—I know you noticed this, but people can’t see this. It’s used several times in this letter, and each time there’s an “o” missing. It’s misspelled. People who know how much I love good spelling would look at this and think, “How did you ever do that?” But it’s misspelled each time through there.

Bob: I thought this was a reference to your singleness, being a “missinary.” That’s not what that’s about?

Nancy: No, I don’t think so.

Bob: Being a missionary for Him. You wrote in your letter:

And it was just as He had stood before me. Right then I started to think what and how a missinary would speak to people. I could just tell everybody this wonderful news.

I’m so happy about it, and I just know that God has spoken to me and told me to be a missinary for Him. And I think that being a missinary is the best job for me. And I’m just so happy that God wants me to be a missinary for Him.

I hope that God is going to help me be a missinary. It’s just as God’s saying this to me. “Go, Nancy. Go, Nancy. You can do it. You can do it. Be a missinary for Me. Go, Nancy. Go, Nancy.”

Love,

Nancy Leigh

And then you write,

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel. I’m going to do it for Jesus, and Jesus only shall I do it for.”

Nancy: I smile when I read that. I’m so thankful that God put it in my heart as a young girl, that this calling to ministry was for Jesus. It really has been an incredible joy to have these years of serving Him.

I tell people, Christ is a wonderful Master and Lord and Lover, and all those things. But to have the privilege over these last 30 years now of serving Him vocationally in a full-time way, and in more recent years with the radio ministry; I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Bob: Is your heart that women would find freedom, fruitfulness, and fullness in their relationship with Christ?

Nancy: Yes.

Bob: Has that always been in your heart, that women would find life in Christ?

Nancy: I was saved at the age of four. In fact, recently on Revive Our Hearts we talked about my 45th spiritual birthday (and that’s something I celebrate each year).

Within the first couple of years of my Christian life—by the time I was 6 or 7 years of age, believe it or not—I had this strong sense that my life belonged to the Lord; that He had put His hand on my life; that He had set my life apart and called me to serve Him in some way.

At that time I certainly had no idea that this meant a women’s ministry. But as I grew in my understanding of the Word and realized that God had called and gifted me to teach the Word to others, and then as I studied the Scriptures, I realized as a woman that He made me to do that for other women.

So that’s been an unfolding thing in my life, an unfolding sense of calling and mission—but it’s the Word of Christ in us that does set us free, and it does make us full, and it does make us fruitful—taking the Word of God and connecting it to the lives of women and seeing it produce those results, not only in their lives but in mine as well.

Bob: One of the other issues in your life has been the fact that you’ve been single throughout your life. A lot of people struggle finding contentedness and joy in singleness. Has that been a struggle for you?

Nancy: It’s hard to be single, yes. Have there been times when emotionally there’s this desire to have that connection, that relationship that could be true in a godly marriage? Yes.

But going back before I was even old enough to think about marriage, as a child there was this saying “Yes” to the Lord. “Whatever You want for my life, that’s what I choose. That’s what I want.”

I think when you develop a pattern in your life of saying, “Yes, Your Majesty. Whatever You want for me, that’s what I choose. If it seems good to You, it seems good to me” . . .

That maybe seems like just pious talk. But to me that really has been, at the deepest part of my heart, a way of processing not only singleness but the challenges of ministry, the challenges of life, the challenges of getting older, the financial challenges we face as a ministry.

In every area I could name, if you start out with this issue of surrender to the Lord and then faith, confidence in God’s goodness and His faithfulness . . . God has said that if we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our hearts [see Psalm 37:4]. He really has, Himself, fulfilled, at the deepest part of my heart, the deepest desires that I have.

Now, does that mean that there are no unfulfilled longings or desires? I’m convinced we all have unfulfilled longings. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t long for heaven. We would be happy to just stay here.

I’m not happy to just stay here. I’m content as long as God has me here, but my home is heaven. That’s where my fullness is. That’s where Christ is, who is my life [see Colossians 3:4].

So it’s okay to have unfulfilled longings. Married women have unfulfilled longings; single women; men have, I guess, unfulfilled longings. Christ is the only One who fills us and who makes it okay to wait for the fulfillment of some of those longings.

Bob: We are reflecting on a milestone date for you as you turn 50. Sometimes these milestones can cause people to be discouraged as they look back and think, “Boy, there were things I wanted to accomplish before now that I haven’t.”

But as I hear you describe this contentment in serving Christ, I’m just wondering, do you reach 50 with a sense of disappointment or with a sense of joy for what your life has been to date?

Nancy: I told someone recently that if God never gave me another week, month, or year of life or of ministry—if He chose to take me home today—I could die a very, very happy woman because God has done incredible things in my life.

He has filled me with joy. He has made me fruitful. He has allowed us to touch lives and be fruitful for Him in ways that you can’t explain apart from Him.

Do I have any regrets? You know, I’d have to think awhile about what they are. If I have regrets, it’s more along the lines of not trusting God more, of not being more wholeheartedly devoted to Him, because at every point where I have trusted Him and have said, “Yes, Lord,” He has come through so incredibly.

I’m hoping that God gives me a lot more years of life in ministry. I’ve asked Him to let me serve Him until I’m 85 with enough strength and wholeness of mind to do it well. But He may not give me until 55.

But I look back with much, much joy, with much gratitude. That doesn’t mean—I think I need to hasten to say this—that there have been no failures, no hard points, no disappointments—at times disappointed with God in the smallness and foolishness of my thinking, not trusting Him.

But now as I look back I can say that even when I have blown it, even when I have been selfish or stubborn or willful or sinful, God has been incredibly gracious and merciful. He’s kept me on a short leash, if I could say that without any irreverence. He keeps pulling my heart back, because He knows that that’s where I want to be: close to His heart.

Bob: One of the things that Revive Our Hearts has required of you is more focused time studying God’s Word than you probably spent at any other season of your life. You’ve always been a student of the Word, but when you’re having to prepare to teach as often as you teach . . .

Nancy: Two-hundred-sixty programs a year.

Bob: You have to be in the Book daily. I know you’ve always been a person who was in the Word daily for personal edification, but now here you are preparing to teach others. I know that’s been a labor of love—and it’s been both of those—it’s been a labor, and it’s been joyful. What’s your reflection back on seven years of teaching countless times here on Revive Our Hearts?

Nancy: You will remember that one of my first reasons for saying “No way” was, I said, “I don’t have enough message material.” It takes me a long time to develop new material for books or for teaching. I said I could never come up with that much material—new, fresh, insightful, biblical material—to teach for 260 programs a year.

At that time the Lord began to implant faith in my heart, and He reminded me that this Book, this Bible that I’m holding in my hand is a limitless supply—a deep, deep well that never runs dry of new material—that I was never going to run dry of material in my lifetime.

But it has still taken a lot of time, as you say. There have been moments, candidly, late at night pressing into recording deadlines, when I have murmured in my heart and thought, “Everybody else gets to be going to bed at a reasonable hour, having a normal life. Why couldn’t God let me have a normal life?”

And there have been moments of—and I’m ashamed to say this, but it’s true—moments of even resenting the demands. But then God comes by His Spirit and reminds me what an incredible privilege this is.

To think that I get to do this—that my job, my calling, I get to spend so much of my time opening the Word of God, delving into it, meditating on it, looking at it from every different angle, studying, preparing; that I get to spend the number of hours that I do—I’ve really come to see as a privilege.

In fact as I was studying this past week, getting ready for an upcoming recording date, it occurred to me that it had been a long time since I had really felt that this was a burden. I have come to see this as a joy, as a privilege.

Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t ever get stressed. I do. The closer we get to a book deadline or a recording deadline, the more sometimes I feel that pressure. But I realize that it is a great joy. It is a great privilege.

Bob: My wife and I have come by late at night in advance of a recording deadline to pray for you, and we’ve both observed that there is a little more settled sense of peace that God will see you through and that God is with you.

Even if the deadline is hours away and you wish you had days, God by His Spirit and through His Word provides for you not just the passion but also the wisdom to communicate effectively on Revive Our Hearts each day. We’ve been amazed at it.

Nancy: You know what? It keeps me in a position of need in the Lord. I’ve said for years, and now I’ve proved it to be very true, that anything that makes me need God is a blessing.

We tend to resent and run from the things that make us needy, that make us feel weak. For the woman who’s financially stretched or caring for parents with Alzheimer’s . . . each season of life there are hard things; there are things that press us. But I’ve come to see that those things are a blessing if they make us desperate for God. They send us to our knees, and that’s a good thing.

Bob: Yes it is. I think often of the apostle Paul’s crying out in 2 Corinthians 12 about his own weakness and his recognition that it is in the acknowledgement of his weakness that he is made strong and that God’s strength is perfected in our weakness.

It’s good for us to realize our dependence and to trust not in our own “chariots and horses,” but to trust in the name of the Lord our God [see Psalm 20:7].

Nancy: I don’t want people thinking, “Wow, what a great woman. What a great teacher Nancy Leigh DeMoss is!” I want them to know that I am weak, that I am at times plagued with a sense of my own inadequacy. I’m as insecure as the next person.

We have, all of us, reason to be insecure. You know, this whole self-esteem movement—it’s pointless, because we have nothing worthy of God, nothing to offer Him but little loaves and fishes [see John 6:9]. I want people to come away from seeing this ministry knowing that I am weak but He is strong, and knowing that the grace of God that has been active and alive in me—that gets me through each day, each new book, each new recording season—that grace of God is available to them.

If we humble ourselves, God says He will pour out His grace on our lives [see James 4:6]. God’s grace is what gives me the desire (the motivation) and the power (the ability) to do what He’s called me to do. But it only comes to those who recognize their need.

Bob: Has it surprised you in 7 years, first 15 minutes a day and now 30 minutes a day spent with listeners all across the country, how profoundly God can use those brief visits each day to change someone’s life?

Nancy: It has greatly surprised me. You will remember some of the discussions we had early on. I was used to doing conference ministry, as you recall. In those conferences, I have all the time in the world to speak. It’s nothing for me to speak for an hour and a quarter, an hour and a half. And people can’t really go anywhere. They’re kind of captive there.

The thought of doing . . . it really wasn’t 15 minutes; I got actually about 11 minutes out of that teaching time, out of that shorter format program that we used to do. Now I get about 22. My first thoughts were, “What good is that going to do? How is that really going to impact lives?”

But I’ve had the privilege over these years of receiving, now probably thousands of emails and letters, of meeting people around the country and hearing them tell how God has met with them, has transformed their lives.

I think there are a couple of things behind that. One, I think, the fact that we’re able to do it day after day. You go to a conference, and it may have a significant impact. It may be a real crisis or turning point in your life.

God may really confront you with an issue, and you have this concentrated, extended time—Friday night, all day Saturday, whatever—in the presence of the Lord. And that can make a real impact.

But Saturday afternoon people go home, they go back to their home, their real life, their real battles, their real husband, their kids or lack thereof. They go back to their church on Sunday, their workplace on Monday, and the world starts pumping itself wholesale back into their system; and by Tuesday most of them have very little recognition of what happened to them the past weekend.

With the radio ministry we’re able to be . . . I say it’s kind of like an IV in people’s arms. I don’t mean that in a painful way, I hope; but it’s the steady drip, drip, drip of the truth into people’s lives.

Now we’re hearing from women who are saying, “I started listening to you when I was a college student. Now I’m a young mom, and you’ve discipled me. You’ve walked with me. You’ve held my hand through some different seasons of life here.”

So I think we have that dynamic. It’s the line upon line, precept upon precept [see Isaiah 28:10].

But there’s something else at work here that we can’t discount, and that’s if people hear just one program or two or three, just a very limited number. We have asked God from the outset to anoint each program with the power of His Holy Spirit and to wing it into the hearts of people.

I’ve heard some amazing stories about people pulling over to the side of the road, falling on their knees there in their kitchen, bowing before the Lord, weeping in repentance and brokenness and confession as something that cannot be explained by any Bible teacher or any radio program. But it’s the power of the Holy Spirit of God taking that truth and exploding it in their hearts.

In fact, when we first started, I prayed something that maybe seems a little bold, but I read that passage in the end of 1 Samuel 2 and the beginning of 1 Samuel 3 that says that the Word of the Lord came to Samuel. So Samuel listened to the word of the Lord.

And then Samuel spoke the word of the Lord to the people, which is the order that it has to come. First I need to hear from God through His Word, and then I need to speak that word to others.

And then it says, “The Lord did not allow one of Samuel’s words to fall to the ground” [see 1 Samuel 3:19, paraphrased].

When we began radio, I have to tell you—this is another true confession here—another reason I wasn’t eager about starting this was I thought, “There are way too many radio programs. There are way too many speakers and books and all these things. I do not want to add to the clutter. There are plenty of great Bible teachers out there, and people are not really paying attention to a lot of it anyway. It becomes like background noise.”

I said, “Lord, if this is something that You’re calling me to, would You confirm it by anointing it with the power of Your Holy Spirit, and would You make it to be true that not a word that You speak through this program would fall to the ground? Cause it to fall to fertile hearts and to good soil” [see Matthew 13:8].

Bob, I think we have seen many, many times over the years that God has done just that. People come back and say, “This is not just a program. This is not just more teaching.”

It’s not that we’re saying anything that, in many cases, they’re not hearing from their pastor on Sundays, that others aren’t saying as well or better. But it’s a sense that the Holy Spirit is taking these truths and implanting them in people’s hearts and giving them ears to hear and hearts to receive, and their lives are being transformed.

Bob: Over the last 7 years, we’ve had some of our friends who listen to Revive Our Hearts who have committed to praying regularly for this ministry, and some who have generously provided the financial resources so that this ministry can continue.

I know your heart is encouraged when you see folks who share the burden and who demonstrate that in tangible ways. God has been faithful to provide for those needs, hasn’t He?

Nancy: We are trusting the Lord to expand the ministry, not so Revive Our Hearts can be larger or bigger or better known; but the mission is so great: to see the hearts and homes of women captured with the truth of God’s Word.

But you know, it doesn’t matter to the Lord whether He saves by many or by few [see 1 Samuel 14:6]. He doesn’t need big numbers, a lot of people. God takes Gideon’s small, reduced army [see Judges 7].

And we are kind of—I don’t want to reflect negatively on anyone here. The founder of our parent ministry, Life Action, used to say, “We are a ragtag army of sinners saved by God’s grace.” We don’t have anything to boast in. We’re not big or great.

But God takes, as I’ve said, those loaves and fishes. He multiplies them, and He produces great things for His glory. That’s what we’re asking for.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Bob Lepine about the challenges and blessings that have come from hosting Revive Our Hearts over the last 7 years.

To help meet the needs that Nancy was just describing, contact us at our website, ReviveOurHearts.com. Click on the word “Donate” toward the top of the screen, or call us at 800-569-5959.

Tomorrow, as Nancy turns 50, find out why she has a growing burden for younger women. Please join us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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