Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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A Happy Surrender

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says if you want to know God’s will, seek God Himself. 

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I really don’t stress much in the more recent years of my life about missing God’s will. I want to be where He wants me to be, what He wants me to be, but I believe that as I’m seeking Him daily, I’m going to be where He wants me to be. 

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, May 16. 

This week Nancy’s marking a big milestone—her fiftieth spiritual birthday. It was fifty years ago this week that a four-year-old Nancy came to faith in Christ. She’s been looking back at God’s goodness over the years, how He’s challenged her and helped her grow. 

Paula Hendricks, a blogger at TrueWoman.com, has been interviewing Nancy this week. You’ll hear them refer sometimes to the show-and-tell Nancy brought. She brought some journals and mementos, and you’ll hear them comment on those occasionally. Let’s listen. 

Paula Hendricks: Nancy, as we were preparing for this interview, you came across some very interesting documents about your parents’ faith. 

Nancy: Yes. I’m so thankful my parents did save—it was probably my mother who gets the credit for this—but saved a lot of papers, letters, things I wrote as a child. They did this for each of the children. Then when my mom moved out of the home they had raised our family in, she gave each of us that file or set of file or boxes. 

I have had so much fun in recent weeks going through some of those early documents—including a handful of report cards from elementary school, complete with teachers’ comments, which are really interesting. You realize how some things don’t change much from when you’re a child. 

Paula: In kindergarten your teacher wrote, “Nancy is so eager to give information that she sometimes forgets there are others in the class.” 

Nancy: Oh, yes. 

Paula: And then second period she wrote, “There are times when Nancy wants to be the boss. If not, she won’t play. 

Nancy: Yes. That was Miss Tress. She did not know anything. She was not a good teacher—no, actually, she was a great teacher. I hadn’t read that comment in a while, and I thought, “You know what? Some of our bents are there very young.” And this is a kind of recurring life issue with me, having to be in charge, having to be the boss, having to be in control. The Lord is working on me, but there are some times when that same comment could be written about me today. 

Paula: Why don’t you tell them what your fourth grade teacher had to say. 

Nancy: Oh, yes, Miss Bow. This was interesting. There were other comments . . . Well, first of all, I’ve got to tell you that the low grade . . . Almost always the lowest grade was P.E., Physical Education. That was never my strength. I’m looking at this one: C, C, C+ and C for the whole year. A lot of other A’s on there, but P.E. is a C. 

So Miss Bow said in the first period, “Her one difficulty arises at play time. She needs more opportunities to develop play skills.” Apparently I didn’t improve a lot, because she said in the third period, “I believe she would be a more well-rounded person if she would enter into playground activities.” 

I’m going to read one more here from fifth grade. I had the same teacher in fifth grade. Miss Bow moved up with me into fifth grade—to make sure I could play. I actually loved Miss Bow. She then moved to high school math, and so I had her for four years of math in high school as well. She loved me so much. 

But in the second period in fifth grade she said, “Nancy is mixing with her classmates socially much more than she used to.” 

And then this one in the last period of fifth grade, “She seems to be somewhat overwhelmed by our study of electricity.” 

Well, it’s just too interesting because to this day anything that has to do with science or math or technology, it totally does not compute with me. So, I guess some of those things stay with you for life. 

Paula: So, let’s pick up on the play thing. Do you think that play is really important in life and ministry? 

Nancy: Well, apparently I didn’t think so at that age. My friends were always older people. I liked adults. I didn’t do so well with peers and children. I was never quite sure how to socialize. I was overweight. I always felt a little self-conscious, but I just didn’t like playing. I liked being serious and reading books and doing homework and things that kids look at you like you’re crazy if you tell them that today. 

I have come to believe that there is some value in play, and that there’s also value in being able to be conversational with your peers and to talk about things they’re interested in. I think so many people play their lives away and are going to get to eternity and have very little if anything to show for it. So I don’t want that to be true. 

But I also realize that God, if I could say this without being irreverent at all, He can enter into our play as well and when you’re playing with your children. This is not an unspiritual thing. This is not unholy. This is a good thing. To be able to enjoy life and the Creator and the people God has created and put around you, there’s value to that that I clearly did not recognize when I was in the elementary school. 

Paula: Okay, today, Nancy, we want to just talk about some of the challenges and the issues that all of us really struggle with in the Christian life at some point or another. One that we’ve already addressed in previous days is discerning God’s will. I think that’s something that we all face. Can you talk to us a little bit about what you’ve learned in the past fifty years? 

Nancy: People sometimes ask me, “Do you find it easy to know God’s will?” I have a young college friend right now. She’s getting ready to graduate and is seeking the Lord about what to do next—where should she go, where should she apply. She’s also in a dating relationship—and asking if this going to move toward marriage. How do you know God’s will? People at different seasons will ask that. I’ve asked that many times. 

There are two helpful pieces of advice that older Christians shared with me when I was a college student. I was kind of spazzed out, concerned that I might miss God’s will somehow, that I might make a wrong decision. 

I remember a piano professor saying to me, “Nancy, remember that God’s will is not a place, and it’s not a job. It’s a lifestyle; it’s a heart, and it’s a walk.” That’s helped me a lot in different seasons as I’ve realized that I don’t think God is as concerned about whether I serve with this ministry or that job or that career or even whether I’m married or single or all the choices you could make about life: Do I live here? Do I live there? Do I buy this house? Not that we don’t seek the Lord for wisdom in those areas, but God’s will ultimately is not a place. It’s not a job. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a heart. It’s a walk. That was very liberating to me. 

Here’s something else that was very freeing: When I was praying about a potential ministry position and, again, I was so concerned that I might miss God, this Christian worker said to me, “Nancy, it’s harder than you think to miss God’s will if that’s what you really want. If you want to be where God wants you to be and doing what He wants you to do, you’re not going to miss it.” 

Now, there are ways that we can get better wisdom. I think listening to counsel, being in God’s Word, praying, asking the Lord for direction, asking Him to confirm through circumstances. There are ways we can make wiser choices. But if I really want God’s will, then God’s not sitting up in heaven, “Oh, I hope she doesn’t miss it.” He’s going to lead us. 

I love that verse in Psalm 23: “He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name sake.” Often when I pray with somebody who’s seeking God’s will about something, I’ll pray, “Lord, would You lead my sister or my brother or this couple or this family? Would You lead them in paths of righteousness?” He’s a Good Shepherd. He leads His sheep. So I trust Him to lead me. 

I really don’t stress much in the more recent years of my life about missing God’s will. I want to be where He wants me to be, what He wants me to be, but I believe that as I’m seeking Him daily I’m going to be where He wants me to be. 

Paula: Nancy, have you had dry seasons? Because it’s easy, I think, for people to look at your life and think, “Wow! She’s got it with God!” 

Nancy: Dry seasons—which year? Which month? Which week? Oh, yes. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to believe it’s a gracious thing that God doesn’t let us always feel His nearness. I think if we could always feel, then we wouldn’t be walking by faith. 

Now, I’m also glad God does give us some times when we can feel His nearness and when our hearts are very tender and very fresh and very warm toward God. We’re all wired differently emotionally. I have friends who are much more expressive emotionally than I am. I tend to be a little more cut and dried. So my feelings are a lot of times I’m obeying God or following Him without feeling any great love for Him or any great passion for Him. 

But I’m also thankful that there are times when He just touches my heart in a sweet way that reminds me, assures me that He is near. 

So I think those dry times are important. God sent the Children of Israel (I’m reading in the book of Exodus these days) into the wilderness where there was at one point no water and at another point where there was no food. The Scripture says in Deuteronomy 8:3, as it’s reflecting back on that, “He caused them to hunger.” God caused them to hunger. 

You say, “A good God would do that?” Yes. He’s a good God, and He did that for His people because He wanted to teach them that “man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” In times when there was no water it says, “God tested them,” in the book of Exodus. 

When I can’t see God (Job says this in chapter 23), “God, I look in front of me, I can’t find You. To my right, to my left, I can’t see You. I can’t find You.” He says this while he’s going through this horrible suffering. But then he says, Job 23:10, “But He knows the way that I take”—I can’t see Him, but He sees me—“and when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” 

So there’s that assurance that when I can’t see God, when I can’t see where He’s leading, what He’s doing, when I cannot comprehend, “God, why would You script things this way?” I’ve learned to be content with mystery. 

Dry seasons are part of it, but the righteous don’t walk by feelings. They walk by faith. One day faith will be sight, and we won’t need to see Him through a glass dimly. We will see Him face to face. I live in anticipation of that day, and in the meantime I’m willing to live with mystery. 

Paula: Have there ever been times when you’ve been disappointed with God or maybe angry with Him? 

Nancy: Disappointment, for sure. Confusion, for sure. I think that it probably depends on what you mean by angry. But my view of who God is—from such a young age—was shaped to believe that God is sovereign. God is good. God is just. God has the right to do whatever He wants to do in all the universe and in my life. I came to love that God early on, to trust that God. 

So it’s not been in my DNA very often to have this kind of reflexive reaction that God is wrong or that God made a mistake or God isn’t good. I think, when from childhood, you’re so saturated in who God is, that kind of becomes your default, even if you don’t understand. 

But I will say there have been some seasons of real wilderness time for me. One that comes to mind is then the founder of our ministry died of a brain tumor. In my twenties he had been something of a spiritual father to me in the years after my own dad had died. I had served with his family in ministry for about ten years, and he had just invested in a significant way in my life. 

This wilderness came for a number of reasons. So many of us had prayed for so long and so hard that God would heal him, that God would restore him. A lot of people felt that God wasn’t done with him and was going to raise him up. And the sovereign God of the universe took his life, the founder of our ministry. 

I did not respond well to that loss. I was confused. I was shaken. Now, to put it in context, there had been, from my dad’s death to that point, there had been a series of losses. I had a brother who was killed in a car accident. I had dealt with each one individually, but I think the compounded result of a lot of those hit me at that moment. It wasn’t just the loss of this leader. I think it was the whole thing put together. 

I continued in ministry, although there were times when I’d get up to teach and I would just kind of break down in tears. It was very hard to get my heart into it for quite some time. I just could not understand and couldn’t release what I didn’t understand: Why God would take this servant of His and others in the prime of their life? It just seemed to not make sense. 

For some months there I relied on my own understanding rather than His and became resentful. I think the best way to describe what happened in my heart at that point was I just kind of wanted to close it off. I was afraid if I really opened myself up to God any more that He would . . .What else could He take? What else could He hurt? What else might He touch? So I contracted inward with this feeling of, “Don’t interfere in my life anymore.” 

Well, in time I came to realize that there is a place where God doesn’t interfere in your life anymore, and that’s called hell. I realized that the absence of God’s intervening, interfering sovereignty and grace in my life was something I did not want. I didn’t want to go there. And I began to realize, “I want God interfering. I want Him intervening. I want Him to be as Joni Tada has titled a book, “The Glorious Intruder.” I want Him to be the glorious intruder in my life.” 

I began to realize again what I knew in my head and began to connect with my heart, “Lord, You don’t make mistakes. You’re too big, too good, too great.” I also realized that my refusal to thank God for something I couldn’t understand was keeping me in a pit for a lot longer than would needed to have been true. 

I’m not saying if you trust God, if you walk with God, if you love God that you won’t feel the stuff, and you just move on to the next thing. I look around the room at people who’ve lost children, loved ones, mates. I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt. But I do believe I wallowed in that pit a lot longer than was necessary. 

Paula: About a year-and-a-half? 

Nancy: It was about a year-and-a-half. I mean, there was a process there. I can still remember I was in a cabin in the mountains of North Georgia where I’d taken some time to prepare some messages for a conference I had coming up. I just was still keeping God at arm’s length, kind of wrestling in my soul: Was I really going to trust Him? 

For me, it came down to . . . I remember kneeling on the wood floor in that cabin and just letting it go, and saying, “Lord, I’m going to choose to thank you for something You may never allow me to understand.” 

I don’t want to say overnight the whole cloud lifted, that I got myself to that point by means of a process. It was a process of God bringing me out of it. But I can remember weeks or months later that I woke up (it sounds a little strange because it’s never happened before or since) in the middle of the night and realized I had been singing while I was asleep, praise songs. 

It seems a little strange, it did to me, too. But at that moment I just realized, “God’s here. He’s back.” Now, He hadn’t gone anywhere, but He had put joy in my heart that I hadn’t experienced or felt in a long time, so it’s a process. I think for some of us if we won’t let God get near, because for Him to get near also means we let Him interfere if He wants with my plans, my way. 

Now, I look back on that experience, that was twenty-five years ago, and I can see so many really beautiful things that God brought out of that loss. He redeems our losses, even the hard things. The things that Satan means for evil, God intends for good. So now that you have enough years that you can look back and see Him redeeming those . . . I don’t want to say it’s always easy to trust Him, but it’s probably a little more default. 

God has such a track record in my life now. I’ve seen Him bring beauty out of ashes, and so I’m a little quicker probably to believe that He really can. 

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been telling us about a dark season in her life and how the Lord used it to deepen her faith in Him. She’s been talking with Paula Hendricks from the True Woman blog. That conversation is part of the series, “Fifty Years of Walking with God.” 

Would you tell us what you think of this series? You can email us by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com. Just follow the directions to “Contact Us” when you visit ReviveOurHearts.com. 

One woman wrote us not long ago when she was downsizing her lifestyle. Nancy’s here to tell you about it. 

Nancy: Recently, I got a really special email from a listener who needed to stop supporting Revive Our Hearts financially. Now you might wonder why I would find that encouraging, but listen. Here’s what she said: 

I regretfully need to stop my current $30 monthly donation to your ministry. Revive Our Hearts will continue to be a huge part of my daily walk, but I’m working toward leaving my corporate job to be home with my children and eventually homeschool them. 

She went on to explain how Revive Our Hearts has encouraged her to re-evaluate her priorities and to ask the Lord what her role as a wife and mom should look like during this season. As she sought the Lord, she realized that she needed to put more focus on her home. She said,

This transition is going to require a lot of faith and a good bit of saving to take the plunge. I hope to be able to give in the future, but I’m making this decision based on the needs of my family. I really hate to do this. I’ll continue to listen and pray for this ministry, and I’m so thankful that God has brought it into my life.

Well, as I read this, I thought to myself, “What a great reason not to give to Revive Our Hearts.” But maybe the Lord has you in a different season of life, and you’re in a place where you can support the ministry. Since this mom needs to discontinue her support at this point, maybe the Lord wants to use you to take her place. Your gift will help us continue encouraging this wife and mom as she takes on the challenging job of teaching and training her children. So especially if you’ve never donated to Revive Our Hearts before, maybe you could take the place of this listener who is needing to discontinue her monthly donation. 

As we’ve been sharing with you, we’re asking the Lord to provide $350,000 or more in donations during the month of May. This is the time of year when we close the books on our twelve-month fiscal year, and we set the budgets for the coming year. So meeting this goal, or even exceeding it, will help us end this fiscal year in the black, and it’ll make it possible for us to pursue some opportunities that I am really excited about. 

For example, our team is telling me that we really need to revamp our websites to make them better suited to those who want to listen on mobile devices. We want to connect with more women through social media. And we’ve got some great opportunities to get the program on the air in more cities. We’re also exploring broadcasting this program in various parts of the world to women who have so few resources like this one. 

So why do all these things matter? Well, they’re all opportunities to connect women around the world with the truth of God’s Word. 

Now, you may not think that whatever you could give is very significant, but I can tell you it really does matter. It’ll help us spread this message to women who desperately need to hear it. 

Let me just say that if you’ve never supported the ministry before, this would be a great time to start. This month, when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we want to say, “Thank you,” by sending you a CD that we’ve been talking about called, Hidden in My Heart, vol. 2. Listen to just a short clip from that CD. 

Music from the CD:

I will see You, Lord,
Search with all my heart till I find You.
Waiting patiently,
Longing for a word to breathe new life.
Your Words are life.
I will listen, ever listen, for Your still small voice. 

Well, I know that this music, based on Scripture text, is going to minister to your heart in a really special way as it has to mine. So just ask for the CD, Hidden in My Heart, when you call with your gift of any size to help support this ministry. The number to call is 1-800-569-5959. 

If you’d rather make your gift online, you can do that by going to ReviveOurHearts.com

Thank you so much for carrying this ministry on your heart and for your support at this really important time. 

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

 

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

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.