Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: If the person you married changes over time, is it possible to stay in love? Here’s Anne Ortlund.

Anne Ortlund: Especially you who are believers, you must keep falling in love with that person that your husband becomes. You change; he changes. And you fall out of love and you fall out of love and you fall out of love.

So what do you do? You just simply say, “Charlie, I take you all over again” (at least in your heart) “to be my lawfully wedded husband; to have and to hold from this day forward.” You have to keep recommitting yourself to this person who has changed.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Thursday, July 24. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The Lord has been so gracious in my life to bring around me women—older women, many of them—who have been a little further down the road spiritually and in life experience than I have been, who have been instruments to teach me the ways of God.

And isn’t that what the Scripture says in Titus chapter 2, that older women should teach younger women how to love God, how to love their husbands, how to walk with God in practical ways? (see verses 3-5)

One such woman in my life, at a distance, has been Anne Ortlund. Her husband was my pastor when I was a college student. Anne is a talented musician, a hymn writer, an author, and a speaker. She’s been a wife for 56 years and a mother of four children, and she walks with the Lord; she knows God.

Anne is with us all this week on Revive Our Hearts, talking to us about her book The Gentle Ways of the Beautiful Woman. Anne, thanks so much for sharing with us on Revive Our Hearts.

Anne: What’s more fun than sharing the Word of God?

Nancy: What an encouragement you have been over many years, but this week to get to be with you and to get reacquainted after 25 years! I do feel like I know you, because you open up your heart in your books and are very transparent and real. I appreciate that so much about you.

This book The Gentle Ways of the Beautiful Woman is subtitled A Practical Guide to Spiritual Beauty. It’s a book that I hope every one of our women listeners will order. [NOTE - due to unavailability, ROH will be offering Anne's book Disciplines of a Beautiful Woman.] It’s very helpful.

It’s rich with spiritual insight; it’s so biblical, and it’s one of those books I wish I had written. Someday maybe God will allow me to reproduce these kinds of truths in writing.

This book you have written is really a compilation of three earlier books that you’ve written.

Anne: Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman, Disciplines of the Heart, and Disciplines of the Home.

Nancy: “Disciplines” sounds to many people like the kind of thing you don’t really want to read about or think about. But you make discipline out to be a beautiful subject.

Anne: Sure—I mean, doesn’t it beat the alternative?

Nancy: Which is?

Anne: If we’re not disciplined, then we’re just out of control. We’re living frenetic, harried lives. Who needs it?

Nancy: I was thinking about you this morning as I was preparing for this recording, and thinking that at 79 years of age (which you’ve told me you don’t mind my saying) . . .

Anne: Old is good.

Nancy: You are a beautiful woman. It was occurring to me this morning as I was preparing that it’s not just because you’re strikingly beautiful physically, which you are; but it’s something deeper and richer than that. It’s because for so many years you’ve been committed to living out the truths you talk about in your books.

God’s ways really are a beautifying force in our lives as women, aren’t they?

Anne: I hope that some of the people who sit across from your desk as you’re doing this are saying how beautiful Nancy Leigh DeMoss is, because that needs to be said.

You know, Nancy, let me just say that I used to have a favorite verse, and it’s become my life verse: Proverbs 4:18, “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day” (KJV).

You said to me, “Let’s do a program on getting old and dying,” and I resonate with that, because old and death are two words that everybody shies away from. “We must not talk about that. Let’s not go there.”

But this is reality for everybody. And, boy, if I weren’t a believer, this would be spooky. This would be definitely scary. But I said a minute ago, “Old is good.”

If you’re with the Lord, then truly “the path of the just is as a shining light that shines more and more to the perfect day.”

Nancy: So it’s not a matter of petering out.

Anne: Oh, it’s the opposite. In fact Paul says that, because he says, “Forget the outward. It’s the inward that’s important. It’s the invisible that’s important.” He says, “Our outward man is perishing, but our inward person is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16, KJV).

And I sense this. I have to be careful to put on my makeup every morning. I’ve got to do that. God forbid that people should see me the way I first get out of bed in the morning!

But when we have done the little we can do for the outside, you’re right, it’s the inside that counts. I think about Proverbs 31, this woman that we all want to be. Verse 25 says that she can laugh at days to come.

Nancy: There’s no fear there.

Anne: Oh, no fear at all. She is not worried about coming wrinkles or bulges or whatever it’s going to be, because the inner person is more and more important to her. The joy and the peace that this world longs for and doesn’t have are found in Christ, which has nothing to do with age.

Nancy: It’s really because, the bottom line is, she fears the Lord, which is why she doesn’t have to fear getting old.

Anne: That’s exactly right. I must say that in those years when she is mothering—and a lot of you are single mothers out there. (We know they’re listening to this.) Your lives seemed hassled.

Hey, better days are coming! Get through this season—it gets better.

Nancy: You know, I have to tell you, Anne (and some will laugh at this), I have had a goal, a life goal, since I was a little girl, and that is to be a godly old lady.

Anne: Oh, I like that.

Nancy: I’ve had an obsession with this since I was a little girl. I just have this image in my mind of what a godly old lady looks like or is like. Now that I’m in my 40s, I have to say that I’m finding that the “old” part comes easier than the “godly” part.

But I really do believe that God has helped me to look forward to aging, because I have this sense that everything that’s happening in my life right now is making me more like Jesus, fitting me, preparing me for a life that is richer and fuller and not to be dreaded. Though I’m sure there are physical aspects of aging that are not easy.

Anne: Hey, whatever. That’s a good American word these days—whatever. Lord, if this is what You have planned for me, a long life—and actually there is that part of us (I have to say this in parentheses) that loves life and longs for life to be lived a long time.

Indeed, one of the Ten Commandments is the commandment with promise, that your days will be long on the earth (see Ephesians 6:2-3). So God understands that.

He’s not making us to so despise our present life that all we can do is say, “Oh, well. Somehow I’m going to grit my teeth and get through it, and then heaven is coming.”

No. It’s wonderful that heaven is coming, but these days even of aging are precious and to be savored more and more.

Nancy: If you’re living these days in the Lord and growing in Him. Otherwise . . .

Anne: Forget it.

Nancy: I see these older women, some of whom are bitter, cantankerous.

Anne: Which is why little old ladies get kicked around, because we don’t have an image of a godly older woman who is an example to others and who walks with Jesus and has joy in her heart.

I love the verse in . . . I think it’s the 78th Psalm (I wouldn’t want to swear to it—it’s on the left side of the page; that will help you). It says that she will not rest until she has taught the younger generations the works of the Lord.

Nancy: Yes, it is Psalm 78:4-6.

Anne: Proclaiming that God is good . I think we can proclaim even if we’ve become quadraplegics—our legs don’t work and our arms don’t work. If we can still speak, we can do that.

Nancy: Anne, talk to us about beyond aging—death. You have a chapter in this book The Gentle Ways of the Beautiful Woman; it’s a chapter about being equally at ease with life and death. You don’t read many chapters in books today about how to face dying without fear and with confidence in the Lord.

Anne: This chapter says that one of the keys to that is getting to know the Lord one on one, because if everything in your life has been “the group,” everything is “the family,” everything is “church,” everything is multiple—if we are not used to being alone with the Lord—death is a one-on-one thing. The group gets cut out. The family gets cut out. The dearest ones around you get cut out in that experience.

He must be supreme. He’s got to be Priority One, or it would simply be too . . . not only too painful, to be cut off from the others, but also it would be so unfamiliar to us. We would not know how to handle one-on-one experiences with the Lord the way sickness is.

No matter how much they love you, they cannot take your sickness for you. You realize you’re one on one with the Lord.

This is what either brings glory to that situation, or it’s just a bad-news thing. I mean, pain is pain. But Jesus is the transforming power. He makes all the difference.

Nancy: Okay, you challenge us to learn how to live in constant readiness for death. What does that mean, and how do you do it?

Anne: Well, for one thing, you do it simply because, even if we’re only 20 years old, Jesus may come. He will come in an instant and snatch up believers to be with Himself. So all of us must be ready for that moment.

If it does not come, if He chooses to wait so that we do experience death, then we need to be in constant readiness for that.

I’m thinking of Psalm 139:16 that says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (paraphrased). If He has planned for us a long life or a short life, it’s the quality of the life that counts. It’s living it with Him. It’s being in readiness to go or to stay.

Paul says, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Then he tosses that around in verses 22-25. He says, “Well, I’d really rather go, but I may have to stay for the sake of ministry for a while.”

I kind of feel that way. I am so excited about dying. I kid you not. Maybe I’ll go so fast I won’t know, just from one to the other. But however God has planned for it, if it’s through pain—well, hey, I’m not the first. And God will give grace.

Somebody said, “Do you have dying grace?” I think somebody asked John Wesley this, and he said, “No, but I’m not dying yet.” We have the grace that we need for the moment that we’re living.

Nancy: The fact is, for every one of us, soon (in light of eternity) we will face death.

Anne: Sooner than we think.

Nancy: We need to be living in constant readiness, not just for the dying process or moment but for what comes beyond that, and that is the moment when we’ll give account to Christ, when we will face Him.

And I know, Anne, that you want to face Him with joy.

Anne: It gives motivation. We’re not going to be here forever. Our unsaved neighbors will not be here forever. We need to say what we need to say now, not later. “We need to live as dying men to dying men,” Wesley said.

Leslie Basham: That’s Anne Ortlund, author of The Gentle Ways of the Beautiful Woman. She’s been talking with our host, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, about aging with joy rather than fear.

They’re about to pick up their conversation, but first I’ll let you know that we’ll send you a copy of Anne’s book when you make a donation to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. The Gentle Ways of the Beautiful Woman will give you three of Anne’s classic books packaged in one volume. [NOTE - due of unavailability, Disciplines of a Beautiful Woman will be given instead.] It will show you what true beauty is, inside and out.

Ask for it when you help us continue on the air in your area with your donation. Call 800-569-5959, or go online to ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now let’s get back to today’s conversation on how a beautiful woman approaches commitment. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: You and Ray have demonstrated that it really is possible to leave a godly legacy, to build a godly heritage. Really, you were the product, as I have been, of a godly legacy. Tell us a little bit about your family growing up.

Anne: Well, you had wonderful parents, Nancy, and I had wonderful parents. God’s been good to both of us. And our parents were good friends of each other.

The first part of this book, Disciplines of the Home, begins with a little sketch of my parents, what they were like. Daddy was a general in the U.S. Army, so I grew up as an Army brat.

They had plenty of faults, the way I do and the way everybody does. But I noticed that they were faithful in three crucial disciplines of the home.

Number one, they built strong habit patterns that affirmed their love for each other. They always stood up for each other. In front of other people, they always affirmed each other.

After they met the Lord, their life direction together became more focused on teaching His Word. Daddy and Mother taught Bible classes on all the Army posts where they were stationed and led hundreds officers and wives to Christ. It was wonderful.

But anyway, their love for each other—I got ahead of my story.

Number two, they had the discipline of affirming their love for their children. Daddy hugged us all the time and told everybody else how wonderful we were. Mother was the one who spanked. We needed both.

Number three, together they built strong habit patterns that affirmed their love for God. Each night ended with parents and children on their knees in prayer. We had family devotions every day of our lives. We memorized Scripture. It was a strong foundation for us kids.

Nancy: You now have passed the baton to your children, who are rearing their children.

Anne: Our children walk with God, all four of them—three of them in ministry and the other one strongly for Jesus. Now their children are in seminary, most of them, and preparing for full-time Christian service and teaching their children, our great-grandchildren, to walk closely with Jesus.

Nancy: I want our listeners to have a vision for how their lives can be part of passing on the baton of faith from one generation to the next.

I know your parents did not come to know the Lord until they were adults. My parents did not come to know the Lord until they were young adults. They did not inherit from their parents this great, godly heritage.

But they started as the first generation of believers and then were committed to passing that on to their children.

Anne: That’s so exciting for your listeners, Nancy, because they may be the first generation.

Nancy: That’s right. They can start a whole new line.

Anne: Absolutely. There are not only 40 that have come from Ray and me that are all walking with the Lord (except the little toddlers that are pre-Christians). But also there are an even 100 now of my parents’ descendants, living descendants, and they are all either in ministry or in very active Christian service.

Nancy: This is the greatest means we have of evangelizing the world—to bring up children who have a heart for God. And it really is possible.

Anne: This is the way to do it. Disciplines of the home—that’s where it all begins. So we have to have the right “do’s” and the right “don’ts”.

Nancy: Let’s talk about what some of those are. We won’t get to cover them all. I’m hoping each of our women listeners will purchase a copy of this book. It’s a beautiful, hardback, thick book, but it is worth going through every page. It’s called The Gentle Ways of the Beautiful Woman.

You talk about a couple of drastic “don’ts” as it relates to building a home for God. One of those in particular just goes against the whole culture today. You say, “Don’t divorce, from now on, whatever your past.”

Anne: This means that there are people listening who have divorced in the past. I just love the thought that God is the God of new beginnings.

They can’t go back and fix yesterday, so they have to start where they are and ask God to forgive their sins, which He does when they receive Christ. That shed blood on the cross is ample to take care of all the divorces and all the bologna of past days.

But wherever you are right now—especially those of you who are believers—you must keep falling in love with that person that your husband becomes. You change; he changes. You fall out of love and you fall out of love and you fall out of love.

So what do you do? You just simply say, “Charlie, I take you all over again” (at least in your heart) “to be my lawfully wedded husband; to have and to hold from this day forward.” You have to keep recommitting yourself to this person who has changed.

Nancy: Even though he may not even be a believer. He may not have a heart for God, and there may be a lot of tension and pressure in your home. But the way to deal with it is not to take the escape route.

Anne: This is a very extreme illustration, but there are a lot of extreme situations these days. Ray and I have dear friends. He was a drinking, womanizing, no-good for 30 years of their marriage. And Mary simply was patient. She just hung in with him.

Sometimes Mary would call Ray, her pastor, and they’d go from bar to bar looking for him and then practically carry him home.

After 30 years he accepted Jesus. And from then on (they both lived a long time), those last years of their marriage, he treated her like a queen. He was so thrilled that she had not given up and divorced. And there wasn’t anything ever good enough for Mary.

I just see how the legacy that they left was not of a divorce but is something that finally turned out good. The children remember that—after all was said and done, at the end of the day, they were a couple in love.

Nancy: Yet so many Christian counselors, and even (sadly) some pastors today, would have said to that woman—and you can sure find books in the bookstore or somebody to tell you—“You shouldn’t stay with that man.”

Anne: First Corinthians 7 does say that if he insists on leaving you because you are a believer or because he’s unfaithful—if he will not stay—let him go. But if he will stay, though he is a bum, she should stay with him for the children’s sake, because then they have more chance to be sanctified instead of ungodly.

Nancy: Mary (the woman you described) is such a marvelous picture of the love and grace of God toward us and the faithfulness of Christ to us. He is our bridegroom, and we are often a faithless, adulterous bride.

But His love is consistent. It’s unconditional. He’s loyal. He keeps His covenant. He is a covenant-keeping God.

The woman who is willing to stay in that marriage against all odds will find the grace of God because she is representing and illustrating the heart of Christ not only to her husband but to a watching world that so desperately needs to see what God is like.

Anne: So if you have that kind of a husband, listener, take a look at 1 Peter 3:1-5. That will tell you how to live with this man when he’s not a perfect husband—maybe saved, maybe unsaved, but given to trouble.

Nancy: What does it say? It goes back to that matter of beauty.

Anne: It does.

Nancy: It talks about the internal heart beauty “of a gentle and a quiet spirit.”

Anne: That’s what will change your husband. God will use it. She can’t do it. God does it. But it’s through her being the kind of woman she needs to be.

Nancy: I want to encourage you to get a copy of Anne’s book The Gentle Ways of the Beautiful Woman, [NOTE - book is being replaced with Disciplines of a Beautiful Woman] because she has so many more practical helps and insights in this book. We’re just scratching the surface this week.

We’re going to come back tomorrow and talk about some “do’s” in building a home for God, building a family that reflects the heart and spirit of Christ; and Anne’s going to have some very practical insights to share with us. Thank you, Anne, for joining us today on Revive Our Hearts.

Anne: You’re so welcome.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Anne Ortlund about what it means to truly love for a lifetime.

We’d like to send you a copy of Anne’s book. It’s our way of saying thanks when you make a donation to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.

Ask for The Gentle Ways of the Beautiful Woman [NOTE - because of unavailability, Disciplines of a Beautiful Woman will be given instead, but quantity is limited.] by our guest Anne Ortlund when you call toll-free with your donation. It’s 800-569-5959. You can also donate online or get more information about Anne or her book by visiting our website.

Today is Thursday, a special day around the country when women gather to pray for our nation. We’re facing some big decisions in the fall, and we need to choose wise leaders. But even more importantly, we need revival.

The National Day of Prayer task force is calling believers to meet together at noon on Thursdays to pray for the spiritual well-being of our homes, churches, and communities. Would you pray that as people think through the political issues of our day, they’ll also think about their greatest need of being right before God?

For more information on the noon prayer gatherings, visit our website and follow the link on prayer.

When you own something valuable, you protect it, right? Your mind is one of the most valuable things you own. Are you protecting it? Anne Ortlund visits us again tomorrow to talk about it on Revive Our Hearts.

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

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