Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God’s Beautiful Design for Women, Day 35

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Have you ever thought about the fact that God Himself is a homemaker?

Leslie Basham: This is Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy: He has a heart for home. God is a homemaker. God is in the home making business. And it’s not just God the Father. It’s also God the Son who is a homemaker.

Think about how the night before His betrayal, Jesus said to His disciples, “I go (to do what?) to prepare a place for you.” Jesus, the ultimate homemaker.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Friday, March 24, 2017.

Nancy’s been in a series on Titus 2, and the last couple of days she’s taught that Paul wrote that women should be keepers at home. What exactly does that mean?

Well, Nancy has addressed that passage, and if you’ve missed any of it, hear it at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Nancy: I want to pick up one more time, spend just one more day on this whole subject of women being workers at home, or keepers at home, because it's a kind of work that has fallen into such disrespect and is so lightly valued by many in our culture. I want you to be encouraged, to whatever extent you are valuing work done in your home with your family, to care for them, to minister to their needs.

We’ve said what this does not mean, what it does mean, so if you have questions about this, I would encourage you to go back to the previous couple of days.

But, you remember, this is part of Paul’s instructions to Titus that he is to tell the older women that they are to teach what is good to the younger women, and they’re to train these younger women—women who are in these child-bearing, child-rearing seasons of life—to, among other things, be workers at home or keepers at home.

And we’ve said that doesn’t mean they don’t do anything else. It’s season specific. It’s appropriate to what the needs of their family are at any given season. But we’ve said that this is really important, that it matters not just for us, not just for our families, but for the gospel and how other people perceive the gospel. I want to talk a little bit more about that today.

I want to start with a kind of sad story, although it has a happy ending, of a friend whose disregard for her home almost cost her her marriage. She wrote to me about this in an email exchange. I’m going to call her “Ellen” for this illustration. She shared with me how her views on homemaking had been skewed from the time she was a child. Here’s what she said:

The very mention of the word domestic, domesticity used to practically make me shiver. It spelled out a life of boredom, drudgery, thanklessness, and even slavery. It certainly wasn’t anything I ever envisioned myself doing much less desiring.

Is there anybody here who can relate to that kind of background, to ever having that kind of thinking? A few, okay, and a few who didn’t have the courage to put your hand in the air. There’s many in our culture who would feel that way and have that kind of background. She said:

Even though my mother and both grandmothers were at-home mothers, I never witnessed the joy and freedom this calling can be for a woman. What I recall seeing was service done out of duty, not delighting in serving. My mother was a horrible housekeeper, cleaning only when the dirt was unbearable, washing the dirty dishes only when they outnumbered the clean ones, and doing the laundry only when we ran out of clean clothes.

When Joe and I married, I still had all of this damaged thinking inside me. I didn’t enjoy being a wife. I do remember trying, but it was only out of a sense of duty rather than with a heart that delighted to serve and bless my husband.

Now, when her daughter was about seven years of age, Ellen was asked if she would be interested in helping out part-time at a local ministry. She was ready to get out of her home. She was eager to escape the frustration that she experienced at home, and she wanted to find another outlet for her energy. So she quickly said, “Yes! I’ll sign up for that. This was going to be great.”

She wrote to me:

I instantly fell in love with my job. I only worked while my daughter was in school, so the hours were perfect. But there were times when I actually resented having to stop work to go pick her up or having to stay home with her when she was sick.

So then, as time when on, fast forward, and her daughter grew into young adulthood. She said:

The ministry became my life. [Sounds like a god to me.] I stayed longer and longer hours, even came in on my days off. I gave no real thought to spending time with my husband, to helping out with meal preparation or laundry. He did all of that himself. And I thought I was doing exactly what I needed to be doing, what I loved doing.

So as you listen to this—there’s more to the story—but do you sense the seduction? Have you ever felt it yourself? Can you see the justifications that led Ellen to overlook the needs of her husband and her child and to ignore the warning signs that those relationships were deteriorating?

And while that was happening, she was focusing the bulk of her attention onto other tasks and relationships that she enjoyed more. And, for crying out loud, it’s all in the name of Christian service. So how good is that, right? So she’s self-justifying, not seeing, not realizing the damage that she is doing to her husband, to her daughter, to her home.

Well, the day finally came when Ellen’s mild-mannered, go-with-the-flow husband would say, “I’ve had it. I’ve had enough.” Ellen wrote and said to me:

Joe got tired of being used, abused, and neglected and found someone who—at the time anyway—enjoyed serving and pleasing him and wanted to be with him. And he liked it.

So, just like that—and I was in this woman’s life when all this was happening—Joe was gone, into the arms of another woman. And, of course, Ellen was devastated. This was an unintended consequence of years of choices. And she thought all along that she was doing what God wanted. In the eyes of most outsiders, she was, hands down, the innocent party in this broken marriage. But over the next several months, her eyes began to be opened to ways that she had also torn down her home rather than building it up.

Now, I want to say that there is none, zero, no excuse for her husband’s sinful choices. And he knows that, and he would be the first to acknowledge that today. But without excusing his sinful choices, and without taking blame for his sinful choices, Ellen began to accept responsibility for her choices, for how she had devalued and neglected her husband, her daughter, and her home.

It was a process. It was a long, hard process. It involved a process of church discipline. But through a miraculous work of the Spirit in both of their hearts, Joe and Ellen ultimately reconciled, and God gave them both the gift of repentance and a whole new set of loves and affections and priorities. They began in their forties to rebuild the relationship and the home that God had intended for them to enjoy years earlier.

Their anniversary is, I think New Year’s Eve, if I’m not mistaken. Some friends and I go out to a restaurant that we enjoy on New Year’s Eve, and often we’ve run into this couple celebrating another anniversary. They’ve now been married, I think, forty-some years, and in love, enjoying each other. It’s been a really, really sweet thing seeing God redeem this relationship.

But just think what they missed during all those years when both their hearts were far from home.

Now, don’t miss the message here: The point of Ellen’s story is not the importance of cooking meals and washing clothes for the family. This is not a warning against ever being involved in work or ministry outside the home. It’s just a reminder that in God’s economy and God’s wise plan, something vital is lost when we neglect our calling at home.

That’s not to say there’s one cookie-cutter way for what it looks like to have God’s priority for your home. It will look different in different seasons. I’ve tried to say this over and over again because I want you to get that. I think as Christian women we can be really uber-critical of people in our season of life who are making decisions that are different than the one we made. You see this on the blogosphere in spades.

In fact, we’ll get letters from this series saying, “You weren’t hard enough on this,” or “You weren’t hard enough on that,” and “You didn’t say this.” I want to listen. I want to learn. I want to be corrected. I hope what I’m saying, I believe what I’m saying is true to the Scripture, but we have to be careful. We are not the Holy Spirit, and we cannot tell someone in your season of life this is what this looks like.

However, had I known what was going on in my friend Ellen’s life earlier on, there would have been nothing wrong with sitting down with her and saying, “Here’s what I’m seeing. I have some concerns. Are you giving the attention and the investment to your home, to your relationship with Joe, to your daughter that you need to be?” We can ask each other those questions, but then we need to leave it to them and the Holy Spirit to determine what that looks for right now in their lives.

Now, as we think about this thing of a heart for home, here’s a thought that’s really been helpful to me: Have you ever thought about the fact that God Himself is a homemaker? He has a heart for home. You see this throughout the Scripture.

Psalm 90:1 talks about God being "our dwelling place in all generations." He is our home.

Psalm 68:5 says "a father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows is God in His holy habitation."

God makes a home for the lonely. God is a homemaker. God is in the homemaking business. And it’s not just God the Father. It’s also God the Son who is a homemaker.

Think about how the night before His betrayal, Jesus said to His disciples, “I go (To do what?) to prepare a place for you.” Jesus, the ultimate homemaker.

At the heart of the gospel, at the heart of the cross is the Lord Jesus opening His heart and His arms wide and saying to sinful men and women, “I want you to come home with Me. I want to make a home for you.”

And so when we put God’s priorities on our homes, we’re following the example of our homemaker heavenly Father, our homemaker Savior.

And that applies to the many different, seemingly mundane and routine tasks that are part of homemaking. Whether you’re younger or older, have children or not, single, living in an apartment or a double-wide or a mansion, there are tasks related to managing and caring for our homes and the people in our homes.

  • When you bring order out of chaos, or you make a drab space light and attractive, you are reflecting the One who created the world when the earth was formless and void and dark. You’re giving the world a picture of who God is.
  • When you cook nutritious, tasty means for your family, you’re pointing them to the One who feeds the hungry and who satisfies thirsty souls with Himself.
  • When you go to the time and the effort to be sure that your husband and your kids have adequate clothing that fits, (Honey, I’m thankful that you pick out your own clothing! Let me just say that.) and you go to the time to do it, or to make sure that your kids have season-appropriate clothes that fit, what you’re doing is pointing them toward the One who clothes us in His righteousness. You’re giving them a taste for heaven, a taste for the gospel, a taste for Jesus.
  • When you learn how to decorate your home tastefully—that doesn’t mean it has to be extravagant. It doesn’t mean it has to be a Pinterest-type home though there's nothing wrong with that. It can be simple. But when you learn how to do it tastefully, how to put things in order, you’re giving those who live in your home and those who visit your home a glimpse of the One whose handiwork and artistry are reflected in creation.

He’s a God of beauty. That’s why I love having beauty in my home. Now, what’s beautiful to me may not be what’s beautiful to you, and that’s okay. But I don’t want a sterile home environment. I want a beautiful home environment.

I want to inspire my own heart to worship and praise the Lord, and I want your heart to be inspired when you walk in. Not because it’s expensive or elegant. It can be inexpensive. It can be simple. But it can still be beautiful, and you’re giving people a heart for the beauty of Christ when you do that.

When you maintain a clean home . . . I stopped and took some time before my husband got home from a trip last night, and in the midst of studying for this series, I took some time (I mean, we try to keep a clean home, but there’s a lot going on in our home right now) because there were just some things in the kitchen that just needed to be tidied up. I took time out of this study to do that because when you maintain a clean home . . . (And I realize, let me just say parenthetically here, some of you have a lot of little children and your home is not always going to be clean, and that’s okay, too.) But when you make an effort for things to be clean and orderly, you’re creating an atmosphere where your family can appreciate the value of being clean, not just physically, but being spiritually cleansed from sin.

Again, any of these things can become a god in your life. And some of you moms are so high-strung about your home being so orderly and clean that you won’t invite anyone in your home unless you’ve spent a week picking it all up. That’s another extreme that also is out of balance.

So just ask God: “Where’s the balance for you?” I want my home to be used. I want it to be lived in. When children come over, I don’t want to be on pins and needles thinking that something is going to get out of place or are there going to be marks on the windowpanes. I have been, sometimes, obsessive about that. I can picture myself at a time in the past going around with a thing of Windex, following these kids and their fingermarks on the . . . okay, I don’t do that anymore. I’ll do it later, but I want them to enjoy being there. I want them to know that this is home where they are loved.

Our goal is to create for our husbands, our children, our neighbors, our roommates, our guests a taste for our ultimate home in heaven.

So it’s no insignificant calling, this ministry of homemaking, working at home, being a keeper at home. And, no, I’m not trying to glamorize the job of scrubbing tile grout with a toothbrush or trying to come up with tasty, creative meals day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. I’m not sure anything can glamorize some of those tasks.

We need to remember that any job, no matter how impressive its title, requires grunt work, and housework is no exception. My job here in the ministry, some people think . . . I’ve had many women say to me, “I would love to do what you do.”

And I went, “You would love to do what you SEE me doing, but you might not love to do what I have to do behind-the-scenes in order to do what you see me doing.” It all has grunt work, right?

But the tasks involved in being a keeper at home, grunt work included—emptying the dishwasher, again and again and again—those provide important opportunities to invite heaven’s realities into the lives that you care about the most.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth helping you understand God’s beautiful design for women. Nancy will be right back with the second half of that message.

But first, Nancy’s thinking back to a sad day in the recording studio.

Nancy: It was back in 2010, and we had to let our listeners know that due to a serious budget shortfall we were facing we had to make some tough decisions to drop Revive Our Hearts on a number of stations that had partnered with us for a long time. It was a really difficult season. I remember that so clearly. And by God’s grace, and I’m so thank for this, we haven’t needed to go through any major rounds of cuts like that since.

As a ministry, we’re currently facing the most serious budget shortfall since that time in 2010. We’ve experienced increased expenses on a number of fronts, and at the same time, we’ve seen a decline on the donation side over the past several months.

I’m so thankful that we’re able to offer this podcast version of the program, but here’s the thing about podcasts: Everyone loves to get them for free, but the ministry still has to invest money to bring you the podcast each weekday.

And whether people are accessing this program by means of traditional radio, digitally, or by means of podcast, we need everyone to help carry the load, especially if you’ve been listening to Revive Our Hearts for a while and it’s helped you to grow and better understand God’s Word. We need your help to make this ministry possible through your financial support.

So during this season, we’re asking the Lord to make up a budget shortfall of around $500,000. Would you join us in praying and asking the Lord to meet this need? And would you ask Him how He’d have you get involved in helping this ministry to continue as we call women around the world to experience freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ?

Thank you so much for helping to shoulder this burden with us at this time.

Leslie: When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount, we’d like to say “thank you” by sending Nancy’s new book, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. It’s a practical and thorough study for women of Titus 2:1–5.

Ask for it when you call with your gift. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or you can visit ReviveOurHearts.com. We’ll send one book per household for your donation of any amount.

Now, let’s get back to Nancy’s teaching.

Nancy: That excellent wife described in Proverbs 31, the woman you know and love, perhaps the best known biblical example of a woman creating a taste of heaven in her home. This woman is impressive by any standard.

She rises before dawn to provide food for her household. She equips her husband and her children with what they need. She models diligence, good planning, preparing her family for winter.

It’s all summed up in verse 27 where it says, “She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”

This woman is servant-hearted. She conscientiously cares for the practical needs of her family and her home. And it doesn’t hurt—in fact it helps—that she’s also financially savvy, and she has a good business head on her shoulders.

But when all is said and done, here’s what’s the outcome of her life, what it’s all about, what it’s all for: Her life shines a spotlight—not on herself, not on her home, not on her family whose picture is on somebody’s refrigerator with the Christmas pictures—her life shines a spotlight on the God that she fears and loves. That’s why her life makes the difference that it does.

I’m thankful for a mother—the first Nancy DeMoss—who embodied this ideal in many ways as our family was growing up. She and my dad became new parents when I was born, as their first child, nine months and four days after their wedding. They had not planned to have any children for five years. Within the first five years of their marriage, they had six children and then a seventh born some years later.

At the time when they started their family, they were also relatively new believers. They had a lot of learning to do, but the Lord gave them a lot of wisdom and a lot of grace as they sought Him.

And with the seven children in our home, it was a busy home. My dad was a busy businessman. My parents had a lot of commitments, a lot of involvements, a lot of activities—an active family. So the task of planning and managing life and ministry in the DeMoss house was not for the fainthearted.

By the way, my mother had those six children by the time she was twenty-four, and she was managing a large, busy home, she oversaw all of this and more, including partnering with my dad in the start of his insurance business. And she did it with remarkable grace. She served her family and served Jesus through her devotion to our home.

Only eternity will reveal how many people, there were hundreds, thousands of them, who found Jesus in that home as a result of having been extended the gracious hospitality and the gospel witness that my parents offered in our home—at no small cost to my mother.

My dad would go to bed, the kids would go to bed, and my mom was still up late at night, straightening things up, putting things back together. I understand that better now. I didn’t appreciate it then. But I do now. She paid that price.

She didn’t whine about it. She didn’t complain about it. She served the Lord. She worked hard to create an atmosphere in our home that reflected God’s beauty, His order, and His merciful, welcoming heart. She wasn’t Wonder Woman—no woman is Wonder Woman. The only wonderful person in the world is Jesus. There were times when it was exhausting, times when it was debilitating, times when it was difficult, but in being faithful and persevering, she gave our hearts a taste for heaven, a longing for our eternal home.

And that’s what can happen when women devote themselves to their marriages, their families, and their homes. That’s the kind of impact we can generate when our lives reflect the importance and the value of home.

I want to put a little P.S. on this: Having been single myself for so many years—until the age of fifty-seven, to be exact—I want to add that within the context of the family of God, home can include more, though not less, than our biological family members. That means that any and all of us can share in the responsibilities and the rewards of making and keeping a home.

More times than I can count, I have been the beneficiary and the recipient of others inviting me in to their home, and in those homes—other people’s homes—they have added one more, added this single woman to their family. I have spent Christmases with families. I have spent Thanksgiving with families.

I have spent evenings and weekends and experienced there the gifts of friendship and grace and peace and encouragement and nourishment for my body and my soul and lots of laughter, sitting around tables with other people’s families.

I have found comfort and prayer in the living room of a friend when I was discouraged or carrying a burden that I couldn’t carry by myself. I’ve received godly and wise counsel from older, mature believers.

In the context of home, I have found, over those years, family. And for those of you who have home and family, let me say, particularly around the holidays, but any time of the year, open wide your doors and expand the borders of your tent and bring in those who don’t have home, don’t have family—maybe needy, singles, or single moms, or families in distress.

I’ve also had the joy throughout those years of opening my heart and my home to others, again, for decades as a single woman. I’ve just made a little list here of some of the memories I have of this:

  • Making pumpkin pies and decorating gingerbread houses in my kitchen at Christmas with children whose parents I sent out on a date. Fun, fun, fun—big mess, too.
  • Ordering pizza for a spontaneous gathering of a few close families.
  • Sitting on a sofa listening to a woman pour out her heart about a secret sin that she had never shared with anyone else.
  • Weeping, kneeling together with a couple whose marriage had been ravaged by infidelity.
  • Hosting weekly Bible studies with coffee and dessert following, seeing people come to Jesus.
  • Hosting wedding receptions in my backyard.
  • Having a house full of friends—I mean a house FULL of friends—to ring in the New Year with fellowship, sharing, praise, and prayer.
  • Opening my home for a season to a newlywed couple or a missionary family on furlough or an older couple whose air conditioning had gone out in the middle of July.

And on and on, those memories and many more—hundreds more like them. I’ve experienced so much joy from being a maker of a home and opening my home, my heart to share the hospitality and the homemaking heart of Christ with others.

But with the joy, at times, there’s also been, as a result, extra stress and weariness and expense. Sometimes my company has gotten to my house before I got home from work, and I was hosting the evening in my home. So I’m glad I have friends who know where things are in my kitchen, and they just get started. I walk in and say, “I’m glad you all came for dinner tonight.” You do what you’ve got to do.

So you have to look for creative ways, and I’ve done that. It doesn’t have to be a major ordeal. But sometimes it has been just a lot of weariness. Sometimes having all those people in my home has been overwhelming for this introverted woman.

Sometimes, I must confess, I have resented the messes that have been made by others and the wear and tear on my stuff. But if you ask me, “Has it been worth it?” I would say, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

And, by God’s grace, my husband and I are going to keep living that way because in the process, deep, right friendships have been forged; lives have been molded—my life, my guests’ lives. I’ve acquired adopted parents and siblings and children and grandchildren who are now all around the world.

So a word to you, as an older woman, if you are an older woman, let me say: It’s time to put to good use all that experience and wisdom that you gained by walking through those earlier seasons of life.

I want to encourage you to take a younger woman by the hand and help her see the value of cultivating a heart for home. Help her sort through the many competing demands she faces. When she feels overwhelmed and like a failure, help her fix her eyes on Jesus and encourage her to listen to His voice.

And be willing to roll up your sleeves and get in the kitchen and help clean up the mess or help organize the cabinets and provide hands-on coaching for the practical skills she may never have been taught, how to build a home that honors the Lord.

Remind her that her endless, tiresome labors in her home really do matter. Give her a vision for how what she’s doing today can give others a taste for heaven.

And younger women, thank God for that woman who’s been further down the road than you have, and let God use her to support you and train you and encourage you. Take good notes, because sooner than you think, it will be your turn to be the older woman and to take a younger woman under your wing and to help her cultivate a heart for home.

So, Lord, how we thank You for how You’ve made room in Your home for us, how You’re doing that today. May our lives reflect the beauty of homemaking for the sake of the kingdom and the gospel.

And rather than looking wistfully at how our lives might look different in a different season, help us each to embrace our current season and our calling right now as a gift from You.

And may our lives, our homes, our work at home, give others a hunger, an appetite, a longing for Home—capital “H.” I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth showing you what a powerful place for ministry your home can be. That message is part of a series called, “God’s Beautiful Design for Women: Living out Titus 2:1–5.”

If you’ve missed any of the programs in this series, you can listen at ReviveOurHearts.com. You can also find a transcript of each day’s program.

Do you ever find you can choose to be kind to those outside your home even when you’re under stress, but those inside our homes often get the brunt of our frustration? Nancy will talk about taking kindness home, Monday, here on Revive Our Hearts.

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

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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