Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Finishing the Race Together

Leslie Basham: Relationships can be difficult, but they’re worth all the effort. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Listen, to get involved in other people’s lives, to get involved in intimate relationships in your family and within the Body of Christ, it’s not easy. If you’d rather just please yourself, then you’re not going to get involved in other people’s lives. But we have an obligation to bear with the weaknesses, the failings of the weak.

Leslie: You’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, May 29, 2015.

Sometimes picking up someone who is falling requires a great act of courage. Nancy is going to illustrate this today as she wraps up the series called "The Power of Relationships."

Nancy: One of the most memorable moments in recent Olympic history took place in 1992, at the summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. You may remember the name of Derek Redmond. He was the British runner who had been through twenty-two surgeries on his Achilles heel getting ready for the 400 meter race.

It was a shock to everyone that he was even running again, much less competing as the best athlete from his country. When the gun went off for his race, Derek took off. He was in the middle of the pack of some of the fastest runners in the world when, about halfway around the track, he pulled his hamstring and fell to the ground.

Of course, everyone thought he was finished. The broadcasters started yelling out, "Derek Redmond is out of the race! Derek Redmond is out of the race!" The cameraman stayed with the rest of the runners as they finished the race, but then the cameras raced back to Derek Redmond who was still down on the track, trying to pull himself back up. He was determined to finish the race.

Much to everyone's amazement, this great athlete slowly stood up and began to hobble around the track, writhing in pain. You can see this on the video footage. As you watch his face, there were tears streaming down his cheeks. Yet, in spite of his determination, it was obvious to everyone watching that there was just no way he would be able to finish that race. He was in such pain.

Just as Redmond was about to collapse for the final time, a man came running down out of the stands. He climbed the fence at the side of the track, pushed his way past two big guards and ran onto the track. The man who came to Derek Redmond's side that day was Derek's mentor. He had been sitting in the second to the top of the grand stand that day in Barcelona, but he could not imagine anything but getting involved.

The man's name was Jim Redmond. He happened to be Derek's dad. For years, he had been there by his son's side, getting up at four o'clock in the morning for practices, encouraging, supporting, and cheering his son on. Now, he felt he just could not stand by and let his son fail to finish the race.

So he came jogging up to his injured son; and, when he got close enough, he reached for him, putting his hand on Derek's shoulder. Derek took a few more steps and then turned and fell into the chest of his mentor and dad. Then, Jim Redmond said these words, which were later quoted in the newspaper. He said, "Derek, we started this thing together, and we are going to finish this thing together."

Then Jim took his son's arm, put it around his own shoulders, put his arm around Derek's shoulders and held his son up. I mean, literally, just held him up as together they made their way around the rest of the track. As you can imagine, the crowd was roaring its approval as Derek Redmond finished his race.

But, he did not finish it alone. Together, linked arm in arm, father and son crossed the finish line as one. I think of another thing we have been talking about over the last several days:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! . . . Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Eccl. 4:9, 10, 12).

I can think of other New Testament passages that say the same thing to us as what we have been studying in Ecclesiastes 4. Galatians 6:2 says, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (ESV). Hebrews chapter 12 (which, by the way, is talking about running a race), says to run the race which is set before you, keeping your eyes upon Jesus. Then it goes on to say that we need to help each other in that race. "Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed" (Heb. 12:12–13 NASB).

Roman 15:1 tells us that "we who are strong ought to, have an obligation to, bear the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves" (paraphrase). Listen, to get involved in other people's lives, to get involved in intimate relationships in your family and within the Body of Christ is not easy. And, if you would rather just please yourself, then you are not going to get involved in other people's lives.

However, we have an obligation to bear with the weaknesses and the failings of the weak. Romans 15:2 says, "Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to his edification [to build him up]. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, 'The reproaches of those who reproached you fell upon me'" (vv. 2–3 NASB).

And, in verse five, "Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind [live in such harmony] with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord [together, not alone] you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept [welcome] one another, just as Christ also accepted [welcomed] us to the glory of God" (vv. 5–8 NASB).

I have been familiar with the story of Derek Redmond for a number of years. I can still remember the first time I actually saw the video clip of that Olympic race. As I watched the injured athlete fall and then get up and start to make his way around the track, writhing in pain, I was reminded of some of the times when I have fallen or was hurting so badly in the race that God called me to that I did not think there was any way I could possibly finish the race.

And then as I saw Jim Redmond, that dad, that mentor, come out of the stands and hold his son up so he could make it to the finish line, I have to tell you—I just started to weep. I thought of person after person that God has brought out of the stands into my life to keep me in the race. There have been men and women and couples who have come to my side at the most desperate moments, who said, in effect, "We are going to make sure, to the best of our ability, that you finish this race. You are going to get to the finish line standing up."

How I thank the Lord for those precious friends. I pray that the Lord will make me that kind of friend to others, and that the Lord will make you that kind of friend to those in your life who have fallen down on the track of life. They are discouraged; they have failed; they are weak, and they are needy.

How they got there is not really so much the issue as is the fact that God has put you in the stands. He has given you an incredible opportunity—not to please yourself but to fulfill that obligation we all have, in the name of Jesus, to help those around us to finish the race.

So Lord, would You draw us into relationship into godly, healthy, intimate relationships that as we love one another with Your love, as we lift each other up, we may reveal to the world who You are, what Your grace is all about, that we may demonstrate the God of encouragement and the God of endurance as we are those kinds of friends to others.

O Lord, we need each other. We really, really need each other. Thank You that You have provided such a gracious means, such a gift to help us make it all the way to the finish line with joy. I pray with thanksgiving in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: You need other people. Other people need you. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing us why. That message is part of a series called "The Power of Relationships."

Nancy will be right back with examples of how the Lord is healing relationships and helping them grow. First, we’re excited about new ways the Lord is providing to share this teaching with women. Recently our team talked with a woman named Andrea who his excited about this new technology as well.

Andrea: I think the best resource the Revive Our Hearts recently came out with is the Revive Our Hearts app. I love that! That is really wonderful because it is just a click on your phone and then you have this whole website, the True Woman blog, the podcasts, radio, Lies Young Women Believe blog, and Facebook. It makes it much more accessible for all the women—especially the young twenty year olds who know all about technology that we are still learning more about. It's right there at your fingertips. I think that's a great resource.

Leslie: Andrea is a new Revive Our Hearts Ambassador, which means she’s sharing the message of this ministry with women in her own community. Nancy, it’s exciting to hear from a woman who is so excited about new opportunities for the ministry to connect with younger women.

Nancy: I’m so encouraged to hear those commments. This True Woman Ambassador is seeing how technology is opening up new ways of communicating. And she's saying, “What an opportunity for the gospel.”

We want to take full advantage of that opportunity. I'm so thankful for the team at Revive Our Hearts who have been working hard to make sure all our websites are mobile-friendly—that includes ReviveOurHearts.com, TrueWoman.com, LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com, and our Spanish website AvivaNuestrosCorazones.com.

Those website overhauls aren’t easy or cheap. But all the investment is worth it. We’re trying to get women into biblical truth with as easily as possible. More and more they’re looking to their phones for important content, and we want to be there for them.

We can’t do it alone. Your gift is so important to us as we move forward into new opportunities like new mobile friendly websites.

To help us keep current outreaches going strong and to take advantage of some of these new opportunities, we’re asking God to provide at least $450,000 here in May.

We're just about to the end of the month, and I wast to say thank you to all who have given toward the goal. I'm excited to see how God will continue to provide today and through this weekend. If you have wanted to give, but haven’t given yet, let us hear from you today. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

I'm so thrilled to see God calling women to Himself in the U.S. and all around the world. Thanks so much for helping Revive Our Hearts accelerate the movement for the glory of God!

Nancy: From time to time on Revive Our Hearts, we like to stop and just share with you some of the responses that we have been receiving from our listeners. Let me say what a blessing and encouragement it is when you take the time to write and share with us how God is using this ministry in our life. Let me say we don't want to just hear about the victories, we also want to know about the heartaches and the sorrows and the prayer requests because we really do consider you part of our Revive Our Hearts family and want to serve you in any way that we can.

I suppose the most common theme or thread that appears in letters we receive has to do with women and marriage and family issues. I thought today would be meaningful to share with you a few letters that we have received from women sharing what God is doing in their hearts in relation to their marriage.

We aired the series sometime ago about women and their sexual relationships with their husbands. One woman responded and said,

I have known for quite some time that my intimate relationship with my husband suffers, not because of him but because of me constantly denying him what he so much desires.

Let me just say that whether it is on this issue or anything else, it is so refreshing to hear that kind of honesty. That humility is a means to receive the grace of God. This woman said,

I have used so many excuses including, "Tomorrow is a workday, and I will be too tired at work if we get intimate. I am too exhausted to get intimate. If only I was a stay-at-home mom, our intimacy level would increase."

In my eyes these excuses were all accurate; but in God's eyes, they were not excuses but sin—the failure to give myself to my husband. After listening to your programs on this subject, now I know that it is time to freely give myself over to my husband, in obedience to God, who I really do love, and to trust that God will bring the joy and the strength that I need in this and all circumstances.

And let me say that God will give joy and God will give strength to you when you say, "Yes, Lord. I want to do what it is that You want me to do." This woman said,

Praise God for deliverance and the desire He places in our hearts to be obedient to Him. I can't wait until my husband notices the change in me through the grace that God has given to me.

And I do not think that it will take long for that husband to recognize the change that God is bringing about in that woman's life. Now, let me share another touching letter that we received not too long ago from a woman who says, "Dear Nancy, as I listened to your program today, I sensed the Lord’s presence so strongly.”

And by the way, that’s something that we have prayed in relation to Revive Our Hearts that each day there would be a strong, irresistible, unexplainable sense of the presence of God, the anointing of His Spirit that would go through these airways and touch the hearts of God’s people in life-changing ways. So I was thrilled to see that this woman had sensed the Lord’s presence.

Now, on the particular program that she listened to I told a story about a woman who had a husband who was an alcoholic and a drug addict. And this lady wrote to say.

I was the lady in the story. I was desperately trying to serve the Lord and at times holding on by my toenails. But one thing you said really spoke to me, the difficulties we went through as a family were definitely times the Lord used to make me more like Him.

Our daughter who is a Christian asked me one time, "Mommy, do you ever regret marrying Daddy?" My answer was, "No." Had I not been a Christian though, I’m sure my answer would have been an emphatic, "Yes!"

God taught me so much through those difficult times. I definitely learned the meaning of long-suffering and endurance. In spite of the fact that we had a difficult marriage and through all the madness, somehow my husband and I have always been committed to making our marriage work. He even left home several times, but each time God used that period to show me His loving kindness and His power to restore.

And can I just remind you that there are some aspects of the heart and the character and the power of God that you will never experience until you have been in that very desperate hard place where if God does not come through there is no hope. And this woman said,

Because we endured, we are now on the road to recovery.

And I wonder how many people do not ever get on that road to recovery because they bail out rather than enduring and learning what God wants to teach them through those painfully hard times. Now this woman is quick to say that it is not a fairy tale ending to her story. She says,

I am still praying for the day that my husband comes to know Jesus and makes Him his personal Savior.

I long for the day when we can sit and share the Scripture and pray together and talk about what I have learned about our heavenly Father. But until that time comes, I resign myself to the fact that I am where I am by the will of God.

And what an important recognition that is. I would say to that listener and to you, that wherever God has you at this moment, freedom will come when you accept those circumstances as God's will for you for this moment. She says,

I am resting in that fact, believing that one day, perhaps in a not too distant future, my dear husband will come to know and love the Lord, just as I have. I mean to make heaven my home, but I have a husband and son who are not saved. My daughter and I want them to be with us there some day. Please pray for our family.

And we do pray for families like that and women like that and as you have said in your request, know that we will pray for you.

But I am so thrilled to know that this woman's heart is for her family, for her husband and her son to come to know Jesus as she has. And that she is willing to endure the difficulties in this marriage, knowing that eternity is so much longer than this life and that through her endurance and her love for that husband, God may be pleased to bring that husband to faith in Jesus Christ.

Now, here is another letter that touched me in a special way. This woman says,

I know you receive letters from many discouraged wives. [And that is true.] I wanted you to hear from one who is not. I have been married for fifteen-and-a-half years to a man who is very difficult to live with. He has been temperamental, demanding, cold, and accusatory.

Although I believed he was a Christian when we were married, this behavior that surfaced shortly after we married made me believe he could not possibly have been saved. I spent the first nine years of our marriage in depression, wishing he would die suddenly in an accident so that I could start over. I hate to admit to having such thoughts, but it's the truth.

But [and here is the key], God enabled me to love him, even when he was unlovable.

And let me remind you that it is only by the power of God, His grace in you, that you can love a husband or a parent or a child or a boss or anyone who is unlovable. And then she says,

Six years ago, after these nine difficult years, my husband started opening up to me.

I found that he has gone through some terrible trials in his life. He has been rejected over and over by people who should have loved him. And it is hard for him to believe that anyone can love him. His experiences at times have caused him to doubt his salvation. His behavior was his sinful nature's response to rejection and discouragement.

I would be willing to bet that some other husbands of those discouraged wives are wounded souls in need of love and encouragement. I hear wives say, "I am not going to love him until he treats me better." It does not work that way. Love him anyway. God can use it. And who knows, He might change in response to your love. My husband now tells me that I have shown him the true meaning of grace, by my words and my attitude toward him, even when he treated me badly.

And that reminds me of that passage in 1 Peter 2 and 1 Peter 3 where we’re told that Christ had suffered, the just for the unjust without retaliating, without defending Himself but by His willingness to be wounded, we have been healed. And then in 3:1, Peter goes on to say, the very next paragraph, "in the same way you wives have the attitude of Christ toward your husbands, so that they can be spiritually healed."

This wife says,

My unconditional love for my husband reassures him of God's love.

You know there may be no better way for your husband to come to know the love of God than for him to see that love demonstrated in you. This wife says,

Can there be any greater purpose for a wife than to be used as an instrument of God in demonstrating His love, God's love.

And that is a selfless way to think, a selfless way to live because if you are just in your marriage for your personal happiness and your personal blessing and joy, you are going to find yourself disappointed and frustrated time and time again.

But if your objective is to reflect the heart of Jesus to your husband, if your objective is to see your husband become what God has made him to be, then you will discover that God will give you the power to demonstrate His love and His grace to your mate. This wife says,

I now recognize that my husband is a wonderful, intelligent, talented, deeply spiritual man who is hurting. The pain I have gone through helps me to understand what he is going through. I am a better helpmate because of those nine difficult years. I will gladly love, support, and encourage this man as long as God wills for us to be on this earth together.

That's called being in it for the long haul. She says,

Our marriage is not perfect, but what on this earth is perfect? I am content. God strengthens me and helps me through, and I know He will do the same for all of us discouraged wives out there. They might never know the reason for which they are suffering, but they will be stronger for it. I know I am.

And she signed her letter: "Sister in Christ." Well, I just wonder if I am speaking to another sister in Christ today and you are hurting, you have been discouraged, and you have not been able to see the purpose for which you are enduring in this marriage. I trust that this testimony has been an encouragement and a challenge to you to press on, to persevere and with the knowledge that God is committed to you.

He is committed to your marriage, and He will give you the grace to do that which you think you cannot possibly do, and which you could not do without Him.

If you’re one of those discouraged wives, I’d like to just take this moment to lift you up in prayer to the Lord.

Lord, we come together to Your throne of grace because that’s where we find mercy and that’s where we find grace to help us in our time of need. Lord, how I lift up sisters in Christ who are listening to this program today, who are discouraged, frustrated, who are thinking about giving up on their marriages. It’s been years, and they don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, and they think they can't possibly go on.

I cry out to You on their behalf, and I ask You, I plead with You. Would you extend mercy and grace to them? Would You assure them of Your love? Would You assure them that You are in all thing working to bring about Your purposes in their lives, in their husbands' lives and perhaps in generations to come?

O Lord, may these women love You and Your truth and Your gospel and Your eternal purposes more than they love themselves.

I pray that You will give grace to endure, not just today but tomorrow and the next day and the next day so that when they stand before You in eternity, they will be able to say, "O God, by Your grace, I was faithful." Lord, thank You that it’s Your faithfulness that holds onto us even when we think we can’t hold onto You. Thank You that You are faithful and able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before the presence of Your glory with the exceeding joy. I pray in the name of Jesus, amen.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss. That teaching wraps up a series called “The Power of Relationships.” If you missed any of the programs, you can hear them at our website, ReviveOurHearts.com.

I hope you have a great weekend, deepening relationships at your church. Please be back next week for more Revive Our Hearts—helping women find freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ!

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

All Scripture is taken from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

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