Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Come Away and Rest, Day 1

Episode Resources

Watch today's message on video.

Leslie Basham: What tempts you to become disillusioned? Here's Carrie Gaul. 

Carrie Gaul: Disillusionment happens when things don't go quite like we expected, when things turn out differently than the way that we thought they were going to turn out.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of A Place of Quiet Rest, for Monday, July 24, 2017.

Our guest today speaks to women and uses a dramatic illustration. She holds up a ball and chain, puts it on, and drags it around the platform. Why? What does this represent? You'll find out on today's program. And . . . you can also see her pulling that ball and chain when you watch this teaching on video. You can see it at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Here's Nancy introducing our guest teacher.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: One of the great blessings I have as the leader of Revive Our Hearts ministries is to serve alongside men and women who love the Lord, love His Word, and are gifted in so many different ways. Some of the people I serve with are really gifted Bible teachers—communicators of God's truth. And one of those is my sweet friend, Carrie Gaul.

Carrie, I still remember when you came to me when you and your husband, Dennis, weren't yet on the staff here. You said, "I would love, someday, to serve in Revive Our Hearts." But your husband had a different kind of job in a different state. We talked about if that would ever be on his heart, and if there would be a place in our parent ministry for him to come and serve?

You just made it a matter of prayer. You waited on the Lord, and two years later your husband Dennis was on the staff here at Life Action Ministries. And then you came in when you were in the season of life where your kids were grown, and you started serving in Revive Our Hearts.

Carrie's involved in our biblical correspondence area. She and the team she works with get to respond to emails we get from listeners, as well as letters and comments that are posted on our blogs. Some of those are really encouraging, sharing how lives have been changed; some are really heavy-hearted burdens that people share.

Carrie and that team respond graciously, lovingly, and biblically to try and encourage all of those who communicate with our ministry. Some of you have received emails from her, and you know her heart. Others of you are going to get to know and love her heart as she shares with us over these next couple of days.

Her message has some great visual reminders with it. So, Carrie, thank you for being part of our ministry, and thank you for your love for God's Word. I want you to just open His Word and minister to us today as a guest teacher on Revive Our Hearts.

Carrie: Thank you, Nancy. I love the honesty of the Psalms, ladies. In fact, if you ask me what my favorite book of the Bible is, I'll probably tell you whatever it is that I'm studying right then. But, I do love the Psalms. It's as though within these pages of sacred Scripture, we've been beckoned to peer into the personal journals of those whose lives were marked by a passionate, zealous, all-out love for the living God.

The pages of this beloved book are filled with songs of joyful praise and adoration for our great God. But there are also the places where the psalmists began to pour out their struggles, their agonizing through some of their fears and their doubts, their confusions and their disappointments.

They were grappling to bring their thoughts captive, in line with the truth. That's what I like about them. They felt the freedom to share that they were struggling, but then they would counsel their own hearts and come back to the truth of God's Word.

Psalm 119, perhaps like none other, declares the mighty power of God and His written Word. If you have your Bibles, turn with me to Psalm 119. In Psalm 119:107 the Psalmist says, "I am exceedingly afflicted; revive me, O Lord, according to Your word" (NASB).

"Revive me," the ESV version says. "Give me life;" breathe Your life into me; restore me back to life; fill me with your life; cause me the be saturated with You. Someone said that revival is simply a people saturated with God—our hearts and our minds so filled with the wonder of who He is and what He's done that we can't help but overflow into the lives of other people.

The Psalmist said, "Revive me, saturate me with Your Word, Your truth, Your Self. Breathe fresh life into me." Why? "Because I'm exceedingly afflicted."

I don't know what you think of when you hear the word "affliction," but the Hebrew word in that context might surprise you. It means "to be occupied, to be busied, to be oppressed, humbled." In other words, shamed or humiliated, depressed, downcast, or bowed down.

"I'm exceedingly afflicted; revive me O Lord according to Your Word." Such a picture, really, of where so many of us as women are living . . . followers of Jesus Christ . . . isn't it? We're exceedingly busied, and often, if we're honest, we're busied and burdened down under the unspoken, self-induced demands of measuring up.

We have this picture in our minds that we need to have it flawlessly put together all the time. We feel this externally—in the way we look and in our home and with our children, in our marriage. We need to have this still-life photo that just looks perfect all the time.

We're committed followers of Jesus Christ striving hard to "get 'er done." But inwardly, we're exceedingly weighed down. We're tired, we're exhausted, we're discouraged, we're bowed down under a weight of shame and guilt because we can't have the perfect marriage and the perfect children and the perfect life!

Our hearts are often heavy. The creep of daily life somehow catches us off-guard, and it begins to threaten to take us under. With the Psalmist we cry, "We're exceedingly afflicted."

A few years ago, the Lord gave me just an incredible illustration of how quickly the afflictions of life can creep into us and begin to overwhelm us and take us under.

Dennis and I were in Georgia with family members for Thanksgiving, and our eighteen-year-old (at that time) nephew, Kenny, had a brand-new, hot-off-the-showroom-floor four-wheeler that he could not wait for his Aunt Carrie to take a ride on. 

He wanted to show me around on his four-wheeler, so early one morning the two of us jumped on the four-wheeler and we headed out into these rugged, rolling hills—this enormous (several hundred or maybe thousand, I don't know, acre) pine forest that was across from their home. And within minutes, civilization was left behind.

We went deeper and deeper and deeper into this massive forest that was just dotted with these pristine, blue-green lakes or ponds. It was just gorgeous! It looked like something off a calendar. And Kenny was dodging fallen trees and branches. He's maneuvering us through the overgrown brush and these deeply rutted paths and up and down steep inclines . . . and he's got his old aunt on behind him, so he's looking, often, to make sure that I was still safely in tow, checking on me.

We were kind at the top of this mountain. (I call it that because I'm from the North, but they tell me in the South that it's a hill.) It was to me a dangerously steep hill.

As we began to go down that dangerously steep hill, we approached what appeared to be a fairly significant body of water. We drove right up to it, and Kenny turned around to me and smiled and said, "Put your feet up!" Very skeptically I looked at him and I said, "Really?! We're going to cross that!"

Without any wavering in confidence and with this sweet southern-boy smile, he looked at me and said, "Yup, keep your feet up! We're going across!" So we did. I was confident in his ability to do what he said he was going to do. He'd been protecting me this whole time. I knew that Kenny could maneuver this "puddle" without any problem.

So, I began to look around again at the beauty that surrounded me—the trees and the sun and the sky. I'm all caught up in that. Even the intermittent splashes of cold, muddy water didn't seem to bother me because we were four-wheeling, and that's what you expect when you're four-wheeling right? 

That was, until those muddy, intermittent splashes of cold water became strangely constant, and they seemed to be growing deeper and deeper and deeper. All of a sudden I knew we were in trouble. As we leaped to our feet, we're now standing on the seat of our quickly-submerging four-wheeler. As it is going under, my sweet, eighteen-year-old nephew looks at me sheepishly with this horrified look on his face and asks, "Can you swim!?" 

Literally, we were almost in over our heads—literally. But we hadn't seen it coming. We were out for a joyride. We weren't even remotely prepared for the affliction that we found ourselves in. We had been so enamored, so engrossed in the journey that was before us, that we'd been totally caught off guard.

We hadn't seen it coming, and our once carefree, exuberant spirits had quickly become exceedingly afflicted and bowed down under the weight of a very cold, shivering reality. Have you been there? I hope not physically, but perhaps you've been there emotionally, mentally, spiritually, where the creep of life, the creep of busyness, begins to threaten to take you under in the reality of what you're living with.

If you're exceedingly afflicted today, I want you to join me, to spend the next few minutes sitting with me at the feet of the Savior—the One who is the Living Word. The Psalmist said, "I am exceedingly afflicted; revive me O Lord according to Your Word." You see, my friends, it's at the feet of Jesus where our dry and thirsty hearts become saturated with Him. It's in His presence that our afflicted souls find peace and rest and satisfaction.

I think maybe the disciples had a sense of that in Mark 6:30 and 31. If you have your Bible, go there with me. You'll remember the story. The disciples have just returned from an intense season of life and ministry. They've been out preaching the gospel of repentance, and they're seeing lives changed. Incredible miracles are happening.

In this passage, the disciples have gathered, literally, around Jesus' feet. I imagine them sitting with Him under the shade of an old olive tree. Jesus is in the middle of them, and the twelve of them are gathered around, and they're just talking a mile a minute. They're telling stories; they're reliving what they've seen.

They've got questions. One will start a story, and another will finish it. Jesus is listening, and He's interacting with them as they're just sitting there sharing their hearts. And then after a bit, Jesus stands up, and He quietly says to them, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest awhile" (v. 31 NASB).

The very next verse, in the New American Standard Bible (it's in parentheses) says, "[Because] there were so many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat" (v. 31). When I read that passage for the first time a few months ago, I thought, Jesus was in my house last week! (laughter) And He was in yours, too.

He knows the reality of what you're facing every day. Sometimes your days are so crazy. There are so many people coming and going; there is so much that you're doing that you don't even have time to eat. That's where the disciples found themselves, and that's where we so often find ourselves.

Jesus knows the reality of what you're walking through, my friends. He knows. He knows the challenges that you faced in getting here today, and He knows the challenges that you will face when you return home. They may be very different, but He knows. He knows what awaits you.

In the midst of it all, Jesus says, "Come away, by yourselves, and rest awhile." It's interesting, isn't it? I don't know how you might respond to that invitation. I know a number of you who are here today, and I know that you are far more gracious than I am.

But I think, if I were to be real honest with you, when I hear Jesus' invitation to come away and rest awhile—even when I may know that I desperately need to do that—I don't always respond with a real eagerness to do that. In fact, sometimes the creep, the busyness of life, is weighing me down and causes a bit of an attitude in my response to Jesus.

I hear Him through His Word say, "Come away, Carrie. You just need to come away, and you need to rest awhile." And in my mind, when I hear Jesus' invitation to come away and rest awhile I say, "Really, Jesus! Maybe you haven't seen this ball and chain that I'm carrying around in my life. Maybe you don't know, Jesus, the reality of what I'm living with on a daily basis."

"Maybe you don't know, Jesus, that my husband left me last week, and we're not sure how we're going to pay the bills."

"Maybe You don't know, Jesus, that my children, my teenagers, are struggling. They're rebellious, and I don't know how to get them back. Maybe You don't know all of what's going on in our life."

"Do You not know that I've been to the doctor last week? Have You not heard the pathology report?"

"Do you not know the reality of what our church has going on? 'Come away and rest?!' With this ball and chain?" [the sound of the ball dropping to the floor and chain clanking]

It's interesting to me that the disciples who were gathered around Jesus in Mark chapter 6 had not only seen God doing amazing things . . .

They'd been sent out to preach the good news of the gospel. As they did that, they saw lives dramatically transformed. Marriages were being restored; relationships were being restored. People were being physically healed emotionally and mentally. Wholeness and reconciliation were taking place in the lives of these people—mazing things!

But at the very same time, they had buried the headless body of John the Baptist, their friend, their co-laborer, their partner in the ministry. The one who had been proclaiming the truth of Christ died because of it. I don't know, how would you respond if one of your friends was martyred for the very same message that you're proclaiming on a daily basis?

I have to believe that around that circle that day, as those disciples are gathered around Jesus, there are questions and doubts and fears. They didn't understand. "What is this? [sound of ball and chain clanking] We're all about seeing You work, Jesus, and do amazing miracles and amazing things and restoring people. We get that. You did it in our lives, and now we get the privilege of going out and doing it in the lives of others. But we never expected this! He [John]was killed. We buried him. What is this?"

You can almost feel their fear and their disillusionment. You see, disillusionment happens when things don't go quite like we expected, when things turn out differently than the way we thought they were going to turn out.

Some of you have been there, maybe in your marriages. You walked down that aisle to a man that you were passionately in love with, and today, you hardly speak. Maybe you're not sleeping in the same bed. It's not what you thought it would be.

You raised those kids up in the truths of God's Word. You taught them; you prayed for them; you've given your life to them, but they're wandering from the truth. It's not what you thought it would be. It's brought disillusionment. It's brought fear and doubt and questions: "God, what is this? What's going on?"

Jesus knew exactly what the disciples were thinking that day, my friend. He knew. But watch what He says to them. He doesn't condemn them. He doesn't rebuke them. He doesn't tell them to suck it up and put a smile on their faces and get back out there and re-engage.

He doesn't do any of that—that's not Jesus. But can I tell you that's a voice that many of us hear in our heads. We go to sleep with it at night, we walk with it throughout the day, and then we wake up and it's already talking to us in the morning. We feel like a failure before our feet even hit the ground.

That is not the voice of Jesus. It is not! Romans 8:1 says, "Therefore [you have to go back to chapter 7], for those who are in Christ, there is no condemnation" (paraphrased). There is no condemnation. That is not the voice of Jesus in your mind.

Jesus doesn't say that to the disciples, and He's not saying it to you. Jesus said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest awhile." Tenderly, compassionately, He invited them to come and to allow Him to restore their souls, to restore their joy, to do what we talked about in Psalm 119, "Revive my heart according to Your Word, O Lord" (see Ps. 119:25). Jesus invited them to that.

I don't know what you're walking through today. I don't know what the "ball and chains" in your life are [sound of ball dropping and chains clanking], but I know we have them. I know we're often masters at disguising them before other people in our own lives . . . aren't we?

We try to keep them hidden, but we're wearing them, these balls and chains. The doubts and disillusionments that you're working hard to disguise, Jesus knows. He knows it all. He knew not only what the disciples were saying as they were gathering around Him that day, but He knew what was in their minds and what they didn't have the courage to voice. 

He knows what's in your mind today, as well. He knows every detail, every disappointment, every disillusionment, every sin; Jesus knows. Today, my friends, with His hands extended to you in grace, He says, "Come away and rest in my love."

Nancy: And, you've got to tune in tomorrow to see where that story goes, because we're not done. Carrie's going to continue telling us how Jesus deals with that "ball and chain" in our lives. Carrie, I love that verse, "Revive me, O Lord, according to Your Word."

It's the written Word of God, the Living Word of Christ, that revives our hearts and sets us free from those balls and chains in our lives.

Carrie has written an eight-week interactive Bible study on the book of Philippians (we're going to look at Philippians tomorrow, so I want to let you know about this). We're offering it through the broadcast for just a couple of days for a donation of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.

Give us a call at 1–800–569–5959 if you'd like to make a gift to the ministry, and ask for a copy of this study called Joy in the Midst. We're going to talk tomorrow about how in the midst of these circumstances, these hard places of life, we can experience the joy of Christ that nothing can shatter, nothing can break, and nothing can steal from us.

Carrie, thank you so much! I'm looking forward to seeing you get released from that ball and chain that you're carrying around! [Carrie laughs.] People in the room can see it; people listening to the audio of this probably are wondering what some of that clunking is about. That's a real ball and a real chain that you've got connected to your ankle. I'm eager to hear, as we look back into God's Word and you share, how we can be released from that ball and that chain.

Be sure and join us tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts.

Leslie: Tomorrow, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will be back with our guest teacher, Carrie Gaul. As you heard, Carrie's message was very visual. To see Carrie carrying around that ball and chain, literally, check out the video of today's teaching. You'll find it at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow Carrie will be back to answer this question: What do you need to do to gain God's approval?" I'll give you a hint, the answer is, "You can't do anything on your own." Carrie will explain tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.