Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God Is Writing a Story: Jean

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Dannah Gresh: When Jean Wilund embraced the biblical idea of humility, it had a huge effect on her relationships with others.

Jean Wilund: When I realized how much pride really harbored in my heart, and I saw the damage that I was doing to the people that I love, that was when I could finally humble myself before the Lord—truly humble myself—and seek forgiveness and become the wife that I needed to be.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Brokenness. It’s December 13, 2019, and I’m Dannah Gresh.

Well, Nancy, here we are in the middle of another holiday season. So, how’s your Christmas season going so far?

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I’d say it’s going well. We try hard—it’s not always easy—but we try hard not to over commit ourselves. I love having some extra time with Robert during this season and some extra time with the Lord and then extra time with friends. So I’m grateful for this season. And I’m grateful that Robert and I have a chance coming up to visit with some family members. So there is a lot to be thankful for.

Dannah: Oh, yes. That’s so true. And Christmas time is a good time to reflect on what we’re thankful for. It’s a time that’s full of joy for so many of us. But, you know, Nancy, I’ve noticed that it can also put us face to face with difficult relationships.

Nancy: Yes.

Dannah: It could a family member you’re not seeing eye to eye with, or it may be you see a friend at some of the get-togethers that you have some work to do in your relationship or you’re estranged from. It may be just seeing that person brings up a lot of pain in your heart.

Nancy: Yes. That may be true of you, as you’re listening to this program today, and if not, you probably know some people that it’s true of. That’s why we want in this season to bring some helpful perspective.

On Monday, Dannah’s going to be sharing with us about the unnatural art of forgiving. And today we’re going to hear from a woman who learned that unnatural art.

Dannah: Yes, we are. I call forgiving unnatural because, at least in my life, I have needed supernatural help from God to really forgive others.

Nancy: That’s true for all of us, Dannah. There’s no way we can truly forgive others apart from the Lord giving us His grace.

Dannah: Yes. And that’s what Jean Wilund discovered. She’s from Lexington, South Carolina, and our team caught up with Jean at the recent Revive ’19 conference in Indianapolis.

Jean: I’m just very grateful to be here, to be with Revive Our Hearts. I first discovered Revive Our Hearts over twenty years ago. I wish I could remember the year, but Nancy Leigh DeMoss—at that time—came to a Woman to Woman Conference down at Myrtle Beach. I got invited to go to that. That was the first time I ever heard of her or Revive Our Hearts.

Dannah: So, Nancy, do you remember that conference?

Nancy: I sure do, even though it was a lot of years ago. Recently, I actually had the chance to meet Jean myself and to have her share with me more of what took place in that conference. It was so encouraging to hear all these years later.

Dannah: Well, apparently—and this sounds very much like you, Nancy—before the conference you gave an assignment to the women who would be attending.

Jean: When we were preparing for the weekend, she told us to think about: “Was there anyone that you were struggling to forgive?”

Dannah: That was easy for Jean. A person immediately come to her mind—a friend, or rather someone she considered a former friend. There had been an offense.

Jean: It was really ridiculous. She said something, and, honestly, I don’t even remember what she said. It was just a silly little insult that I can’t even remember what it was. I just remember feeling insulted.

Dannah: Whatever it was, Jean does remember her own response. It was defensive and kind of haughty.

Jean: How dare she? “I cannot believe you said that!” It really was that embarrassing.

Nancy: And isn’t that the way it is for us a lot of the time? A careless word, a slip of the tongue, even a simple misunderstanding can cause a lot of hurt and do a lot of damage. So there’s one quick lesson all of us can learn: let’s not be like this friend of Jean’s who hurt with her words, whether it was intentional or not. And neither should we be the way Jean was: quick to take offense.

Dannah: That’s right. That hurtful comment got stuck in Jean’s mind. She said she wrestled with it for months.

Jean: I thought, This is ridiculous! I am going to forgive her because I’m just being silly. But I couldn’t. So finally I knew what I needed to do. I wrote her a letter and asked her to forgive me. I knew enough not to say, “Please forgive me for the way I have treated you because of what you said to me.” I knew not to mention anything that she had done. It was just all what I had done.

I asked her to forgive me, and I mailed it off. I felt such peace and freedom. It was incredible.

Dannah: As she soon discovered, there was still work to do in her heart.

Jean: A few days later, I got a letter—this was way before email and text messages. I got a letter back from her, and I opened it up, eager to read it. It said, “I forgive you.” She didn’t ask for forgiveness for anything. “I didn’t start this. You did!”

So I crumpled it up and threw it in the trash can and said, “We’re right back where we were. I have no idea how to forgive this woman.”

Nancy: So, Dannah, that was all before she attended the conference.

Dannah: Yes. That was all before. And, remember, Nancy, you had asked the women coming to be thinking about someone they were having trouble forgiving.

Jean: And that’s why when Nancy said, “Is there anyone you can’t forgive?” that’s what popped up because I knew it was so petty, and yet it, whew, it grabbed me.

Dannah: I really appreciate Jean’s transparency because I think we’ve all been there. A petty offense, a trivial comment, but it sticks in us. It festers. It bothers us so much.

Nancy: And, of course, that’s happened to all of us at one time or another.

Dannah: That’s right. And Jean said it affected her relationship with her friend, too. But more than anything, her struggles were internal.

Jean: I would have this gnawing feeling in my stomach when I would think about her. If I saw her, it was, “Oh . . . I know I shouldn’t be like that, Lord, but . . .”

Dannah: The time for the conference in Myrtle Beach drew closer, and words like brokenness and revival kept coming up, and Jean had some misconceptions about the terms.

Jean: Before I got there, I thought brokenness was just a bunch of broken people that need prayer and revival was a southern tent meeting with revival-shouting preachers and all of that.

Dannah: Nancy, I’m sorry to say I couldn’t find a recording of you speaking at that specific conference in Myrtle Beach, but we dug through the cassettes of your messages. 

Nancy: (laughter) Cassettes? What are those?

Dannah: (laughter) Cassettes, yes—way back then.

Nancy: You had to go back a long way for that.

Dannah: A long way.

Anyway, this was recorded in 1997 at a church in Myerstown, Pennsylvania.

Nancy in 1997: What kind of heart is it that God revives? Who is the kind of person, the kind of woman, the kind of individual, the kind of church member that God looks to, that He has mercy on, that He reaches out to? The Scripture tells us, and you saw it in all of those verses: The heart that God revives is the humble, broken heart.

Nancy: Wow! I sound like I’m sixteen, but isn’t it comforting to know that the truths of God’s Word are timeless?

Dannah: They certainly are. And Jean heard you speaking about brokenness, and at first it didn’t make any sense to her.

Jean: I had no idea what she was talking about, but when she laid it out in the Bible and took us through what it really means, it transformed my entire life from that moment on.

Nancy in 1997: Rather, brokenness is an act of our will. It is a choice. And it is an ongoing lifestyle.

Jean: Over the course of the weekend, I discovered how much pride lived in my heart, in sneaky places. That’s what I’ve called it since then. It’s sneaky pride. It will hide in places that look good. I called it righteousness—righteous anger. But, man, she just blew the walls off of that. I had no idea that I was actually somebody that was eaten up with pride.

Nancy in 1997: Proud women have a critical, fault-finding spirit. They look at everyone else’s faults with a microscope, but their own with a telescope.

Dannah: It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a proud person is going to have trouble forgiving others. Jean made that connection, too. She started figuring out what had happened months before when she’d sent that letter to her friend.

Jean: I never wanted to forgive my friend. I only wished I’d wanted to, but I never really wanted to. And the moment that I saw the true holiness of God and the incredible amount of pride that I harbored, I didn’t want it anymore. I really wanted to forgive her, and it all just fell away. I saw pride for what it really was, and it changed me.

Nancy in 1997: You don’t have to win the argument. Proud women are so protective of their time, their rights, their reputation. Broken women are self-denying.

Jean: This was one of those moments where everything in my life changed. It was a turning point. And nothing was ever the same again after that weekend.

Dannah: It’s one thing to say something is life changing a few hours or days or weeks after it takes place, but, Nancy, we’re talking about at least two decades later.

Nancy: Yes. Praise the Lord for that. When the Spirit of God brings the Word of God to bear on someone’s life, one of the ways you know it’s real is that it lasts.

Dannah: And Jean wasn’t going to rest until the conflict with her friend was resolved.

Jean: As soon as I got home, I called her and said, “Can we get together for coffee?” 

And she said, “Sure.” 

Because, in her mind, I had asked for forgiveness, so we were good. But I really hadn’t had any communication with her after that. So I called her up and said, “Can we get together for coffee?”

And then I told her the whole story. And we laughed, and we had a great evening. There wasn’t even an ounce of bitterness or anger towards her. We had a renewed friendship, and everything was great, and we’ve laughed ever since.

Nancy: Psalm 51 is a prayer of confession that David wrote after he committed his great sin against Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. Toward the end of that Psalm David says this: 

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. . . . Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you (vv. 10, 12–13).

I love that! One evidence of repentance in David’s life—or in anyone else’s life, for that matter—is that God then can use that person to teach others and to help others in their own repentance.

Dannah: I’m glad you said that, Nancy, because that’s exactly what happened in Jean’s life. She took what she learned at that conference, and she began passing the blessing on to others by teaching them what she’d learned. And guess where she started?

Jean: First, I sat my three children down to teach them. They were about two, five, and eight, but they needed to know. So I sat them down, and I taught them. And then we had a girl from Germany that lived with us—she was twelve, so she was clearly ready for this teaching. I sat her down, and I taught her everything that I’d learned. And then I just started teaching, really, anybody that would listen.

That teaching on brokenness, God used that in a powerful way. I bought her tape series, and I loaned it out.

Dannah: Jean tells us that to this day, in her various relationships, she keeps going back to those same principles on brokenness and pride.

Jean: Just little bit by little bit, more one on one is what it’s been for me mentoring, but that’s always been one of the first things. When I mentor someone, it’s one of the first things I teach because I don’t think that most people have a clue how much pride lives in our hearts.

Dannah: That’s not all she shares with people, though. She told us she regularly takes advantage of the many resources found at ReviveOurHearts.com. She keeps returning there because she sees that it gets below the surface.

Jean: One of the things that is my driving passion is sound doctrine. Something that grieves my heart today in the worldwide Church is biblical illiteracy. Revive Our Hearts has a dedication to sound doctrine that I feel is, unfortunately, rare in the world today. So I feel confident whenever I turn to any of their resources or I send any of the women that I mentor or work with to Revive Our Hearts.

I know they’re going to receive sound doctrine, and they’re going to be directed directly to the Word, and it’s going to stay true to the Word. That’s where the power, that’s where the real power comes from. It’s not just fluffy, encouraging words of affirmation, but it’s real truth that’s going to get down into our hearts and help us see the true nature of our hearts. And even more, it helps us see the true nature of God, which is where everything comes together, when we see who God truly is.

Nancy: That is so key.

I’m thinking of the prophet Isaiah. A lot of his prophecies were pronouncing the judgment of God on various groups. Over and over again he would say things like, “Woe to those who call evil good.” It was part of his God-given calling to show others their sin.

But when Isaiah was confronted with the vision of the holiness of God, do you know what his response was? It wasn’t, “Woe to them.” It was, “Woe to me.” He saw himself in a new light. He knew that he was unclean, and his lips needed to be cleansed by the Lord first before he could rightly perform his duties and be sent out to preach to others.

Dannah: That’s so true. I don’t think Jean would compare herself to the prophet Isaiah, but she does definitely feel called by God to serve other women.

Jean: I would love to be able to encourage women to fall in love with the Word of God. More than anything, that is my driving passion, to help women see the power of God’s Word in their lives because that has changed everything in my life. And that has been because I’ve been drawn deep into the Word of God.

That’s my passion, to be able to encourage women’s ministry leaders to lead their women into the Word of God, not just to teach them about the Bible, but to teach them how to study the Bible and to fall in love with the Bible themselves so that the Word of God will get into them and do the surgery that it does when it opens up our hearts.

Dannah: Again, she finds great help at ReviveOurHeartscom.

Jean: I’m excited because I feel like Revive Our Hearts has so many resources that I can point so many women to who love God’s Word that can encourage them.

Dannah: So, to sum up Jean’s story: she’s a trophy of the grace of God.

Nancy: And what a joy it is for us here at Revive Our Hearts to play just a part in Jean’s story. It truly is amazing.

Dannah: Here’s how Jean said it.

Jean: I am very thankful for everything that Revive Our Hearts has done, for me personally, but for all the women that God has brought to them. I really don’t know where my story would be today without the influence of Revive Our Hearts because I was blind to my pride, and it hurt a lot of people.

When I realized how much pride really harbored in my heart, and I saw the damage that I was doing to the people that I love, that was when I could finally humble myself before the Lord—truly humble myself—and seek forgiveness and become the wife that I needed to be, to be the friend that I longed to be, and to be the mom that my children needed me to be. I’ve been so far from perfect, but that message that Revive Our Hearts has given consistently over the years, I have been able to see who I really am day by day and choose daily brokenness.

I don’t beat myself up, but I’m not blind to who I am anymore. And that keeps me before the throne of God. That keeps me humble before Him and grateful that He has chosen to even use me. I’m baffled at the grace that He has shown me, and it’s all because I feel like I understand more acutely who I am in Christ, who I am without Christ, and who He is.

Nancy: I’m so grateful that Revive Our Hearts has been able to encourage Jean all these many years and so many other women like her who are learning how to live out the gospel of Christ in their relationships.

The reason Jean has been able to turn to Revive Our Hearts for biblical and practical truth all these years is thanks to listeners like you who give to support this ministry. You’ve gotten involved in Jean’s story, and so many others, by praying and giving.

Dannah: And all this month we’ve been letting you know about a matching challenge.

Some friends of Revive Our Hearts have seen the Lord work in lives just like Jean’s, and they want to be a part of what He’s doing. So these friends have offered a very generous matching challenge. That means between now and the end of the year your gift will be doubled—all the gifts will—up to that matching challenge amount.

Nancy: And I’m so thankful, Dannah, for everyone who has given thus far. Now, we still have a long way to go to meet this challenge, so I want to ask: Would you pray with us that this match would be met? And would you ask the Lord to show you how He would want you to give to help us meet this goal? You may even be prompted to ask Him to provide so you can have the resources to give.

Dannah: And then visit ReviveOurHearts.com to make that donation, or call 1–800–569–5959.

Nancy: Thank you so much for your part in helping this ministry continue reaching women like Jean.

Now, next week, Dannah, we’re going to hear a message that you shared at a Revive Our Hearts conference in Pretoria, South Africa, earlier this year. The message is called, “The Unnatural Art of Forgiving.”

Dannah: I hope you’ll join us for that. I’m Dannah Gresh. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

This holiday season we’ve been playing you some songs from Nancy’s piano Christmas album, Come Adore. As we close, let’s hear another one of those wonderful songs.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is helping you discover greater freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.