Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Do You Trust God to Satisfy?

Carolyn McCulley: I am not going to reach heaven and look my Lord in the face and say, “It wasn’t enough. You did not satisfy me enough.” I’m going to fall on my face with gratitude, and I’m going to say, “Thank You. Thank You for saving me and sparing me. I don’t deserve it, and I don’t know why I’m an object of Your mercy, but thank You.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, July 12.

Is there some circumstance you wish God would change? What do you do when year by year He doesn’t change your circumstances? Carolyn McCulley will talk about that today in a discussion of singleness.

Carolyn’s the author of the book, Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? We’ll send you a copy of this helpful book when you donate any amount to this ministry. For details, just visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Carolyn and Nancy are talking with an audience of single women. To begin the discussion today, we’ll hear from one of those listeners.

Woman 1: I had been married sixteen years and divorced—a single mother. I have three girls. What God has taught me in the past six years is how I need to seek my all in Him. And He changed that because my desire even when I got divorced, I still had a desire to be married, but it was for the wrong reasons. It was fear, insecurity, being alone, and I wasn’t looking to Him to fulfill that.

So He’s worked me through all these years, and now I seek everything—that fear, that being alone—in Him. He’s my husband, the father of my children, and I feel like, even for my children, which I want to teach them, is that you have to be right with God and know that He is going to be your all and you can’t look for the husband to fulfill you, to complete you, or whatever the terms you want to use.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Carolyn, when we say, “Christ is all I need; look to Him for satisfaction”—and as human beings, as women, we have emotional longings, needs, longings, desires, whatever you want to call them, is it just so much pious talk, or can Christ really fill my heart and satisfy the deepest longings of my heart?

Carolyn: I think that’s a lifelong lesson. God is faithful to take us through circumstances that teach us this kind of dependence on God and how faithful He is. Whether that’s through marriage or singleness, death or divorce, whatever it is, God is faithful to provide for us in our circumstances.

And there can be times when married people tell a testimony like, “I really wasn’t content, and when I finally got content, that’s when God brought me a mate.” That can breed in us this idea that, “Oh, I have to do something to earn a husband. I have to be worthy.”

A simple survey of our churches will show us that people at all stages of maturity have gotten married. And it’s not something that we earn a right to. It is a gracious gift of God. Marriage is a gift just like everything else. Scripture says, “What do you have that you have not received? All of it comes from God’s hand.”

I think the lesson of learning to be content in our current circumstances is vital to glorifying God. I think it’s vital, from what I hear from my married friends, to having a fruitful marriage, too. If we look to another human being to provide for us that kind of spiritual sustenance that only comes from the Lord, we’re putting such a weight on them of expectations. It could be crushing, and it can be demanding. It can be a very driving, nagging contentious force in a relationship.

So I think it’s a good lesson to learn. I just don’t want anybody to hear it and think, “God won’t answer that prayer until I work myself into some sort of state.” God is gracious to teach us contentment in a variety of circumstances. I think it’s good to pursue maturity no matter what your circumstances are and to watch God be gracious in answering prayer.

Nancy: So if some of the women who are in this room who are in their thirties, forties, fifties, have a desire to be married, you would be in that category.

Carolyn: Yes.

Nancy: Others would be in that category. If God never provides a husband, and you go through this life, and He doesn’t do that, is it possible for Christ to really satisfy in a way that is deep and substantial? He’s not going to be there physically. He’s not going to be somebody that you can touch. Can Christ really be enough? Can He really satisfy us?

Carolyn: I think that issue of satisfying is a hard one to parse because we tend to think of it in terms of our consumer mentality in America, like, “I want to have every aspect of my desire completely fulfilled exactly the way that I want it.”

I tend to think of it more in the sense of the sustaining grace that continues to provide for me that, as I repent of self-sufficiency before the Lord, as I repent of demandingness, as I repent of selfishness, whatever it is that’s driving a wedge in my relationship before the Lord, it’s going to be sin. As I repent of that, I realize the sweetness of the fellowship that’s there.

So I wouldn’t necessarily describe it in terms of satisfaction because I tend to think of that in terms of, “That was a really satisfying meal.” It tends to become an earth-bound experience, at least the way I tend to think about it, as opposed to realizing that this relationship is so sustaining that I find that God’s grace does meet me as I pray and as I ask for fellowship and provision, and He brings those things along.

So, is that helpful? I find I stumble sometimes over the word satisfying, and I’ve heard other people do, too.

Nancy: I love what Elisabeth Elliot has said over the years about unfulfilled longings. She said, “It’s not wrong to have unfulfilled longings.” In fact, I think every human being, married or single, male or female, has unfulfilled longings. And she said that unfulfilled longings become material for sacrifice. They give us something that we can offer up to the Lord.

And so we can even thank God for the fact that from here until we see Jesus, and not until then will all our longings be satisfied. So from here until then, from now until then, there will be some longings that are unfulfilled, but that’s okay. And I think to come to the place where we can embrace and accept unfulfilled longings puts us in a place of greater contentment and freedom.

Carolyn: I agree, because there’s one aspect of satisfaction that we should never forget, and that’s the fact that Jesus’ work on the cross was the full satisfaction of God’s wrath for the just punishment of our own sins. Because He satisfied those requirements of a holy and just God, we can live in the goodness of that. And we should never forget it.

God met our greatest need at the cross: our need to be justified at the cross before a holy God. And if He can do that for us, when while we were yet dead and still enemies of Him, then these other needs and desires that we have are so easy for Him to provide. And we have to trust Him in His wisdom and His timing and the way that He allows our lives to unfold.

And it may be that the way He chooses for our life to unfold is that we get to be a witness to the constant joy that comes from depending on the Lord as a single woman. I don’t know, but of this I am confident: I am not going to reach heaven and look my Lord in the face and say, “It wasn’t enough. You did not satisfy me enough.” I’m going to fall on my face with gratitude, and I’m going to say, “Thank You. Thank You for saving me and sparing me. I don’t deserve it, and I don’t know why I’m an object of Your mercy, but thank You.”

Woman 2: I was trying not to say anything, but I have struggled with “aloneness,” but I have also discovered that it is a tool that Satan uses. It’s another lie that women believe because if you submit yourself to God, resist Satan, the aloneness goes away.

I find often times the alone time comes when I’m in my car alone. Going home from church, I’d just had a wonderful time, and I’m driving home. I just have to start quoting Scripture and just start submitting myself and resist Satan. And pretty soon I’m singing.

I’ve been alone for a lot of years. I was eighteen when I got married. I was married for twenty years. My husband left me for another woman, and he and his wife have now come to know the Lord. I thought he was a Christian before that, but he is completely surrendered to God. And so there’s a lot of joy there.

God and I have raised three daughters, with the help of a lot of wonderful youth leaders. You girls that talk about being alone, experiment. See if submitting, resisting Satan, start quoting Scripture, all those Scripture verses that you learned as a little girl, they come flowing back. Even if you have to say, “Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me.” Any of them that you know. If you can’t think of another one, John 3:16, all of those verses. God’s Word does not come back void.

Carolyn: I don’t know what it is about that experience of driving and being tempted to tears. Do other people experience that? Oh, the car can be maybe our little cocoon where we’re moving fast and maybe no one sees the tears. You can be in church and enjoying the fellowship of people, and then you get in that car, and that little solid thud—and you’re all by yourself. And you’re driving all by yourself. And you’re going someplace all by yourself—like you always do, all by yourself. You’re the go-to person. You get in your car and you go to other people. It can be very lonely.

I have been tempted numerous times. I have cried on my way to baby showers and back again. I have cried on my way to weddings and back again. I’ve left church, and I’ve cried. I’ve pulled into my parking lot and burst into tears. I’ve found that when those moments of loneliness—it’s always a mixture of loneliness and self-pity—I have to really train myself to think about what I can be grateful for because there’s no point in indulging that sense of loneliness.

I’m well aware that I’m alone at that moment, but I don’t have to be full of self-pity. It’s a discipline. It’s a discipline of the mind, and there’s that moment when you teeter, when the emotions come, when they threaten to overflow. You can either "whi-i-i-i-i-ne" and give in to it, and there you go, or you can stop and say, “I am a rich woman. God’s given me so much. I’m going to start—the old childhood thing—I’m going to start to count my blessings” because we are so rich. We have been given so much.

But there is something especially tempting about driving. I don’t know what it is, but I could identify immediately with what you said.

Nancy: And, Carolyn, what happens if you go the other direction when those emotions teeter, and you go ahead and indulge the emotions? Where do you find that leads?

Carolyn: To standing in front of the freezer the next morning, digging for ice, trying to calm down the huge, swollen eyelids that are, like, triple lids. I look like a reptile from crying so hard—then I think, “Why did I do that? Why did I do that?”

I mean, there’s the physical signs of crying—you’re red, you’re spotchy, your eyes are swollen—and, I don’t know about you all, but that tempts me. I want to now withdraw from any further plans because everyone will know I’ve been crying. So there’s that pride, too, that I don’t want people to know I’ve been crying.

So there’s the physical mess that comes from it—the red nose and everything else—but then there’s this residue that sticks to your soul because you’ve rehearsed to yourself all the ways in which you think that God has failed you rather than preaching the gospel to yourself and rehearsing all the ways that God has been faithful to you.

So I’ve literally taken myself and just shaken myself and said, “Stop! Just stop it! You have received much from God. Don’t indulge yourself.” And it’s a discipline. Now, I speak harshly to myself. Maybe you all would be a little more gentle, but I have to kick my own tail at times and just say, “Stop it! Stop it! Now, what can you be grateful for?”

There are times when I’m on my way to a baby shower, and I have to stop and say, “Would you stop that self-centered perspective? You’re going to the shower of a friend who took years to get pregnant. God answered her prayers. I’m going to be able to bless the fruit of another woman’s womb, and that’s an exciting thing because this was really a God thing. Okay, that’s what I’m going to concentrate on.”

Or I’m driving someplace, and I think, “All right, I’m feeling pretty lonely and miserable, but I guess I’m not the only one. Who can I find to go and encourage?”

I know I can sound like such a "Pollyanna." I want you to know that these are things I do inconsistently and infrequently, and I wish, much to my own dismay, that I were more consistent about it. But I think by God’s grace, over time, I’ve gotten better. I am encouraged when my sister said to me about six months ago or so,  “You know, you really haven’t had a good melt down for a while. This is good.” (Sounds of laughter) Yeah! Some progress!

Nancy: Carolyn, anything else on your heart that you’d want to share with us in parting, a couple minutes here that would be a word of encouragement or exhortation for us?

Carolyn: In my church we have coined a phrase called “dating in your mind.” It's where you find yourself latching on to some guy that you think is a good deal, and usually he is a good deal. He’s a godly man, and you would like to have that godly man pursue you.

And so you start to make a big deal about any attention he gives you. And you start to rehearse any conversation that he’s had with you. You’re with your friends and you’re talking about him, and you bring him up in all the conversations.

You’re starting to form this emotional attachment that’s beyond friendship. It’s starting to go from that, “Gee, this is a really nice brother,” open-hands position before the Lord, to, “He’s mine! He’s mine!”

There’s signs of that. At least in my life, the signs of it are: when you find yourself going to church (if you go to the same church he does), not to praise God but so that you can kind of somehow or another get in his line of sight and have a conversation with him, or if you notice that he’s talking to another woman, you’re jealous, and you’re distracted rather than being willing to serve others.

And these are small signs that let you know that you’re forming an attachment that’s a demand and that you are ahead of what God is unfolding in your friendship. Or, if He is to bring this relationship about, you’ve gotten ahead of the man because he hasn’t declared any interest.

I find that when we start to become what my friends call “delighted”—you know, when he talks to you, and you’re like, “How you do-o-o-o-ing? . . . (giggle) . . ." And all your friends are like, “gag, ugh!” that you are just too sparklely. I don’t want anybody to misunderstand me. I think we should be engaging and warm and encouraging, but there’s that amplified effort of delight that all of us can recognize. We are just lighting up because of his attention.

That’s a natural response. We are as women designed to respond to men. But there’s a way when we ramp it up too much. It’s like the poor guy’s been caught in the headlights of a deer hunting rig on a truck. It’s like, “Vrrooom,” and up comes the lights, and they’re like, “Errrr,” lock on. There’s the prey; let’s go for it.”

When you have that kind of experience, these are the indicators that say, “I formed an attachment before the man has declared his initiative,” and that’s a risky place to be in. That’s a place where we can find ourselves making claims that are unwarranted and setting ourselves up for disappointment instead of being like a weaned child before the Lord and putting our hope in Him and trusting Him and giving space for the man to pursue us before we start making all sorts of claims in our hearts.

Nancy: Carolyn, thank you so much. It’s been a long day, and you have traveled and poured yourself out here, and we are very, very grateful. I think you’ve really ministered encouragement and hope and wise counsel to all of us in different ways.

I wonder if you would close our time by praying for these women and for us and for just that trust in God whether He fulfills or doesn’t fulfill certain hopes we may have. I’d like you to pray for us, and then I’d like to ask Kim to pray for you. Can you just tell us in a minute here how you’d like us to pray for you because I know some of these women will want to remember you in prayer in the days ahead. Any specific things on your heart?

Carolyn: All together now, pray for a husband—that was self evident! (Sounds of laughter) I would seriously like prayer for a husband. I have not ceased praying for a husband, but I am also increasingly aware of the fact that, in the limited favor that God has given me, I want to be consistent to walk in not only what He has shown me and what I’ve exhorted other women to do, but I do not want to disqualify myself in the later years of life.

I’ve been reading through the Old Testament and time after time God gave favor and sustenance to people who later on started walking in their own wisdom, negotiating their own treaties with kings, and trying to attempt to solve their problems without relying on the Lord. And how much more would I face those same temptations? I just want to finish well. I don’t want to bring disgrace to the Lord, and I want to continue to be positioned to receive correction and counsel from others so that I don’t disgrace Him.

Kim Wagner: Father, I do thank You so much that, just as Carolyn stated, she was not pursuing You. She was not looking for You, but I thank You, Holy Spirit, that You were faithful to seek her out, and You called her to Yourself. You have raised her up to be a voice of instruction and wisdom and encouragement to Your Body.

Father, You know her heart’s desire is for marriage. Her foremost passion is to bring You glory in whatever way You choose. And she willingly surrenders herself up to You to be used in whatever way You choose. But, Father, the desire of her heart is for a godly husband, to place herself under the leadership and authority of a man of God.

And so, Father, in your infinite wisdom, we know that all You choose to do is good and right and just, and we do just ask You that Your will be done in her life. We ask that You protect her in the meantime, that You keep her heart and vision set on You, that You keep her thinking biblically, living biblically.

She desires consistency. You have poured so much truth into her life, and You have surrounded her with godly teachers and pastors and friends who have rebuked her, exhorted her, instructed her, challenged her. I ask that You would continue to do that, and she would continue to receive that from them, and that as she does, she will be able to finish well. That’s her heart’s desire: to finish well, to glorify You.

And I thank You, Father, that when we walk in that way, and we lift ourselves up to You with open hands and say, “Not our will, but Yours,” You take us to places of blessing and grace. You fill us with joy that is unspeakable. I thank You that You do that just because You are good, and You are faithful, and we don’t deserve it.

I ask that You continue to pour out Yourself in that way in Carolyn’s life and grant her request of consistency and of being able to finish well. We ask these things in Jesus’ name.

Carolyn: Holy Spirit, I pray that You would fill us afresh so that we would overflow with hope and power and love and trust in You, that we would glorify and honor our Lord, that we would walk as delighted children of our Father in heaven.

I pray that You would bless the women who have come here. I pray that they would be encouraged to continue to hold up good desires before You and trust You to fulfill them. And, Lord, I do pray for the testimony of many women to come forward in the coming months, that You would surprise and delight them to say, “Yes, I have heard you, and I am answering prayers.”

Lord, there is nothing that we can do in our own strength as single women to fulfill the desire to be married, but You are a good God. You can do this for us should this be Your wise and perfect plan for our lives.

So I pray that each of us would increase in our faith toward You; that we would never cease to pray and ask with thanksgiving the things that we have a desire for. And, Lord, I pray that we would also grow and trust in You; that when our circumstances are not what we would have hoped for, that we would see the good in them, and that we would bless You.

I pray for the younger women here that they would have the energy and desire to pursue You and not to be drawn by the world.

I pray for women who are in mid-life that they would not lose hope as their dreams appear to be shifting, but that they would embrace the things that You are bringing into their lives.

And I pray for older women here that they would finish well and finish strong in You, that their greatest exploits would lie ahead because they are strengthened by years and years and years of knowing You.

Lord, I thank You for Nancy in particular. I pray that You would protect her and preserve her, keep her walk before You solid and strong that she, too, may finish well, Lord.

I pray that You would bless this ministry of Revive Our Hearts.

Leslie: That’s Carolyn McCulley. She’s been talking with Nancy Leigh DeMoss about trusting God in singleness.

Carolyn McCulley has written a book that addresses some of the topics we’ve heard about today plus a lot more. It’s called, Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? When you read it, you’ll learn more about trusting God, guarding your heart, developing close relationships, and investing in the lives of children.

We’ll send you a copy of Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? when you support Revive Our Hearts with a donation of any amount. Ask for it when you call to make your donation. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or you can visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, Nancy Stafford was in Hawaii to shoot a TV show with Tom Selleck, and she was unfulfilled and miserable. Find out how her life was changed in that moment, and it has nothing to do with TV stars or cameras. Hear the story tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

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

 

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