Revive Our Hearts Podcast

If I Could Do it All Over Again

Season:  Best of 2017

Episode Resources

Listen to the series: "If I Could Do It All Over Again."

Listener: I serve the Lord overseas. These are exciting times! The people here are interested in learning about Jesus, but there is no church here . . . yet.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: As this woman pours out of her life in a tough environment, I’m so glad God uses Revive Our Hearts to help her get filled up again with God’s Word.

Listener: Revive Our Hearts podcasts have been a real encouragement to me. They refresh my heart in a dry and weary land.

Nancy: When you give to support Revive Our Hearts, you’re helping to encourage this sister as she serves overseas. Without support from listeners like you, there would be no Revive Our Hearts for her. Now, she wants to give what she can to spread that encouragement.

Listener: I live on the support of others 100 percent. But after my parents passed away, I’m thankful that I can use their inheritance to give to Revive Our Hearts.

Nancy: What a picture of sacrificial giving! So many others have also given sacrificially this month toward an $800,000 matching challenge that we've been sharing with you. We haven’t fulfilled that challenge yet, so that means your gift today can still be doubled and have twice the impact. This opportunity only lasts through this coming Sunday. That's because the matching challenge is valid only for the month of December.

A large part of the donations Revive Our Hearts receives for the entire year comes during the month of December—and much of that comes in this last week of the year. So your gift today really does matter so that our existing outreaches—like this daily program you’re hearing right now—can continue in 2018.

And if we can meet the matching challenge and then go significantly beyond it, we can also address some of the wonderful new ministry opportunities God is putting before us. That includes the rapidly growing outreach to Spanish listeners and getting our core messages into other languages where women around the world are asking for our help.

Please pray with us that over these last few days of 2017, the Lord would move on people's hearts to fulfill this matching challenge and then to take us significantly beyond it. Ask would you ask Him what He wants you to do to help meet this need? And then just respond however He leads, and please pray that He would give us wisdom to know which of the many opportunities before us He would have us pursue.

Here’s how you can reach us today. You can visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can give us a call at 1–800–569–5959, or you can mail us at P.O. Box 2000, Niles, Michigan, 49120.

And just a reminder that post offices will be closed this Sunday, on New Year's Eve. So if you are sending a contribution by mail, it will need to be postmarked by Saturday, December 30.

Thank you so much for your partnership with us during this important time.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of The Quiet Place, for Wednesday, December 27.

Nancy: If you could live your life over again, what would you change? We discussed that question back in January here on Revive Our Hearts. Our guest was Jon Gauger, author of a book called If I Could Do It All Over Again. Today we’re going to hear a portion of that conversation. It’s part of a series called “The Best of 2017.” Jon Gauger is a producer and host at Moody Radio, and he interviewed several Christian leaders for this book. Back in January, he and I talked about memorizing God’s Word and how we’d approach memorizing if we could do it all over again.

Jon: I remember a dramatic story from when I was a kid. I was fifteen years old and underwent back surgery for scoliosis. I was cut open from my neck to my waist. They take the surgical equivalent of a car jack, straighten the spine out (I got two inches taller on the operating table). They anchor in two stainless steel rods about a foot long, about the diameter of a pencil, and pound those into the spine. They sneak under the incision, grab some bone chips from your hip, put those fragments along the spine, and it’s all fused together. And there you are . . . in agony!

Nancy: I would say, that sounds really painful!

Jon: You’re in intensive care for a couple days on morphine. Then for the next two weeks, you’re on a circular frame bed which is rotated every four hours. I remember, the night before I was to get a body cast, they said, “Your incision is going to start itching; don’t scratch it. Whatever you do, don’t scratch that itch!”

Well, that’s like saying, “Don’t think about water,” when you’re thirsty. I started to itch the thing. And it wasn’t just an urge to itch—it was an assault! It was a warfare. And it was a horrific, horrific thing.

The only thing that brought me back to sanity was quoting every Scripture verse I had ever learned. Nancy, I’m ashamed to say, that was the first time in my life that I knew that I needed the Word of God.

Those memorized verses—boy—what a blessing they were then. And what a blessing to hear from these folks that we talked to: “What about your favorite Bible verse?” So we had a great conversation, and people all had a story; they all had a favorite verse.

Josh McDowell was no exception. We know him as the great apologist, right? He's the writer of all those books: More Than a Carpenter; Evidence That Demands a Verdict. It probably would come as no surprise verse that he chose and why.

Josh McDowell: “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 paraphrase). But you have to understand . . . to me, truth was not given to be cognitive. This is what separates me from most (not all) apologists.

I never looked at truth for the sake of knowing truth. Truth—all truth in the Scriptures—was given to be applied to relationships. Truth should always be personal. If you don’t have your behavior, your relationships, your family, your marriage based upon truth that then is lived out in that relationship, you’re going to fail.

Nancy: And Josh McDowell not only knows the truth as well as just about anybody we can think of, but he has lived out that truth in some hard and painful relationships, as he’s told about his journey with his own upbringing and his father. So he has lived out what he’s talking there.

Then I think of another person . . . You mentioned being on that bedframe, being turned around. Well, someone who knows all about that is Joni Eareckson Tada, who had that similar experience after becoming a quadriplegic as the result of a diving accident many decades ago.

She knows the value of God’s Word hidden in her heart, and she’s been a great example of how that Word can bring strength and encouragement and hope in some of life’s darkest valleys. Here’s what she had to say when you asked her about a favorite Bible verse.

Joni Eareckson Tada: Well, I love to read passages in Scripture which remind me that God has a poor memory when it comes to my sin. He remembers my sin no more; He separates me from my sin as far as the east is from the west, as high as the heavens are above the earth (see Ps. 103:11–12). That is what makes the good news so great. God will not remember our sin. So you know what? We shouldn’t either!

Jon: Isn’t it great to hear these Bible verses that are coming from our guests, Nancy? Michael W. Smith, the Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter, was asked this same question: “What’s a Bible verse that means more to you now, more than ever?” This is what he told us:

Michael W. Smith: “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God; how vast is the sum of them. If I were to count them, they would outnumber the grains of the sand” (vv. 17–18 paraphrased). That’s from Psalm 139. I go back to that one all the time.

Even though I feel like I’ve grown up and I’m getting there—and I’m probably more mature now than I ever have been (I’m on the journey, just like we all are)—there are still those days that you just get frazzled, and you just lose perspective a little bit, and you sort of find yourself meandering down some crazy road and starting to feel unproductive.

You say, “Am I ever going to ever get my act together? . . . or this addiction, or that addiction, or whatever." You start beating yourself up. And then I just go, “Wait . . . whoa . . . wait a minute!” I can’t forget that His thoughts about me are precious and they’re vast, and there are so many good thoughts from Him that they outnumber the grains of sand. That reels me back every time and gives me the right kind of perspective on how I should feel about myself.

Nancy: I love how these different people have anchored their lives in specific Scriptures and have said, “This isn’t just something to know cognitively, not just something to know in my head. But it's something that really gives me grace when I need it most.”

Leslie: We’ve been hearing a conversation between Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and Jon Gauger. They’ve been considering the question, “If I could live life over again, how would I approach Bible memorization?”

We’re hearing this conversation as part of a series here on Revive Our Hearts called “The Best of 2017.” We’re reviewing highlights from top series this year, and you can hear more of that conversation by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com. Click on resources, then programs, then find January of 2017. After airing that interview with Jon, Nancy recorded some teaching on this same topic, “If I could do it all over again.” Let’s hear some of those highlights.

Nancy: As Jon Gauger, the author of this book, was interviewing me on this subject for this book, here’s a question he asked. He said, “People hear you on the radio, and they’re quite convinced you’ve got it all together.” Then he said, “Let me ask you, what regrets haunt you every once in a while? What nags at your heart?”

And, again, depending on the day, I might answer that question differently. But here’s what I said to Jon when he asked me that question: When I get reflective, quiet, still enough long enough to think about these kinds of things, here are the two things I would say:

  • I regret that I haven’t loved better, that I haven’t loved more . . . that I’ve been more demanding and critical of others and not as gracious and loving and receiving of others as God has been of me.

Now, when we have that critical spirit, that narrow spirit toward others, it’s really an expression of pride saying, “I don’t need God’s grace; I don’t need anybody else’s grace.” But you are a mess, forgetting that we’re all messes who desperately need God’s grace!

Seeing ourselves humbly, as in need of God’s mercy and grace, is what I think can give us that loving approach to people. If I have a regret, that would be one of them . . . that I haven’t loved better!

  • The second one would be, all the time that I’ve wasted—so many hours, so many moments that add up to hours, and hours that add up to days—not living life intentionally.

It’s not that I don’t spend a lot of hours living intentionally. I do. It’s not that I don’t spend a lot of time being productive. I do. But, I think about—in the course of any given day—how many moments . . . half-hours . . . hours . . . are spent just being whiled away, wasted, not used carefully or wisely.

Sometimes I think about where I might be in my walk with the Lord today, in my knowledge of Scripture, how much more fruitful I might have been, how many more lives I might have touched in a personal way, if those hours and those days had been used more wisely.

Now, I want to be careful. This isn’t to say that I believe or that Scripture teaches that every moment of a Christian’s life should be spent in activity that can be accounted for in some worldly sense of productivity.

But I do mean that, even in the time that we are just enjoying the company of others, I want to be intentional about that—about focusing on others—not being distracted, not multitasking with my phone in my hand while people are standing there being ignored.

So it’s whatever I’m doing, to be “all there.” Not just thinking about the “next thing,” not zoning out, not escaping mentally, but being all there, in the moment, with the people in the places where God has placed me.

So if it’s time to party, then party! If it’s time to vacation, then vacation. If it’s time to work, then work. And just know what is the time and the season to all things God has assigned times and seasons—and to be more sensitive to what that is. 

Then whether they’re vacation or a mealtime or just sweet conversation with your mate or phone calls with your kids, these are not wasted moments, if they’re given up—offered up—for the glory of God.

So now as I’m in my late fifties . . . And, boy, doesn’t time go fast? Don’t the years go fast? I remember being eighteen, or sixteen, or fourteen, and thinking, That is so old! I’ll never get there! Wow, how fast it happened!

If I could have a do-over (which we can’t), if I could go back and do it again (which we can’t), I would like to be more intentional, more purposeful, about how I spend and steward the moments and the hours that the Lord has entrusted to me.

I can’t go back and do it again, but I can make choices today with that in mind.

Let me read to you something else that my brother Mark wrote in this Little Red Book of Wisdom. He said,

Ultimately, we are what we do every day. What defines us is not one large intention to be a good person or parent; it’s a hundred-thousand ongoing choices of every size that arise when we’re tired, satisfied, distracted, full of ourselves, threatened, happy, reactionary, sentimental, hurried, bored, etc. It’s those little moments, those everyday choices, actions that ultimately determine who we are.

The ticking clock intimidates us—even frightens us. But, while time is unforgiving, God is not. What lies behind us is gone, and consequences are inevitable. But God is in the business of redemption, and we can still give Him the years we have.

Don’t you love that? I’m so thankful. That’s a word of grace.

My dad had a little paperweight on his desk that I now have in my possession, just a little marble piece with a plaque on it that says this little piece of verse (I’m sure you’ve heard it): “Only one life, 'twill soon be past . . .” It will soon be past! When I used to see that on my dad’s desk, I didn’t imagine that this life could soon be past. But now I know. It will soon be past. 

Only one life, 'twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.

I guess conversations like this make me think of my dad. He’s now been with the Lord for many years. I think back on his life and the things that I learned from him, and the legacy that I want to leave.

My dad’s life verse was Acts 20:24, which reads this way—the apostle Paul says, “I don’t account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” 

Paul is saying, “When my life is said and done, this is all that matters. This is what I want to have been true—that I did what God put me here on this earth to do, that I fulfilled my calling. That I didn’t just wander aimlessly through this earth, letting life just carry me along in its stream (as most people do). And, also, that I didn’t fret and stress about things over which I had no control, but that I was intentional and purposeful in trusting the Lord, looking to the Lord, walking in His Spirit, following the leading of His Spirit.” And none of us does that perfectly.

None of us does that close to perfectly. None of us does it as we will wish we had done. But I think this kind of thinking and this kind of conversation and dialogue can help us be more tuned to what God is saying, what He is doing, and how He wants to use our lives.

I started out yesterday’s program by reading to you some of Jonathan Edwards’ resolutions. I want to read just a few more of those to you today, because in those resolutions you see a theme. Edwards purposed (he wrote these as a teenager) to live in light of the end—to live in light of his death.

Here are a few examples: Jonathan Edwards said:

I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live if they were to live their lives over again; therefore, resolved, that I will live just as I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.

Now that’s wisdom! That’s what my brother Mark was saying, that we can’t go back and reclaim it. Consequences are inevitable, but God’s in the business of redemption, and we can still give Him the years that we have.

So, Edwards said, “I hear all these old people say, ‘I wish I could go over and do this again.’ I’m resolved, I’m going to live now—while I’m eighteen—in a way that I will wish I had done when I’m seventy.” (Or whatever old age may be for you.)

Resolved, never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.

Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die. 

When it’s time to die, will I have lived the way I wish I had? So he says, “I’m going to choose to live that way now.” He purposed to live in light of eternity. He said it this way,

Resolved, that I will act so, as I think I shall judge would have been best, when I come into the future world. 

So, when I see the Lord, will I have lived in the way that—in light of His presence—I will think would have been the best way to have lived?

Well, that leads me to a couple of other questions that Jon Gauger asked in our conversation. (He included responses to these questions in this book.) He asked, “What do you want on your tombstone?” Now, I don’t know if I have any say over that. This is not, so to speak, chiseled in rock yet.

But here are two things that I think I certainly would want to be the spirit of the legacy of my life: Number one is, “handmaiden” or “bondservant of the Lord.” Those two words mean the same thing. That thought comes from my life verse (if I have one). Some of you have heard me talk about this in the past, Luke 1:38.

Remember that account when the angel comes to tell Mary that her life is about to be upended—and turned upside down and inside out—and that God has a plan and a purpose for her life that is humanly impossible! As a teenage girl, young teenager probably, she is going to be the mother of the Messiah!

And Mary’s response, after saying, “How can this be, this is impossible!” The angel tells here that God’s Spirit is going to do this in her and through her. Mary’s response in Luke 1:38 is what I want to be my life-long response to the Lord.

She said, “I am the Lord’s servant [I’m the handmaiden, the bondservant] of the Lord; may it be to me as you have said.” It’s really just a way of saying, “Yes, Lord!” I’d like to think, at the end of my life, that my life had been lived as the servant—the slave, the handmaiden—of the Lord, and that whatever He wanted me to do, whatever He assigned to me—no matter how hard it might have seemed, no matter how laborious it might have seemed, no matter how thankless a task may have been—that my response would have been, “Yes, Lord! I am Your servant. May it be to me as You have said.”

Not just in the things I do, but in the things I receive as from the hand of the Lord, to say, “I receive whatever You have for my life—whatever Your choice is." Whether that’s singleness or marriage; whether it’s children or not.” Now, “not” is the answer to that question, at this season of my life. I don’t believe I’m going to have biological children. But when I was a young woman, that was one of the things that saying “Yes, Lord” meant.

“Lord, if you want me to be married, I’ll be married. If you want me to be single, I’ll be single. I’ll serve you either way. If you want me to have children—a lot of children, a few children, no children—may it be to me as You have said. Whatever You want me to do, wherever you want me to live, wherever You want me to go . . .”

When Robert and I were courting (now, I know this may not sound really romantic—it was romantic) . . . When it came down to it, as we talked about God’s will for him as a widower, in that season of his life, and for me as a then fifty-seven-year-old woman, in that season of my life, it came down to, “What is the Lord’s calling? What is He saying to us? What is His will?”

We prayed, we sought the Lord, we fasted, we asked counsel, we stayed in His Word, we talked a lot. But it ultimately came down to, “Is God calling me to switch from that calling I’ve had as a single servant of the Lord for all these years and take on the responsibilities, the joys and the challenges, and the distractions that Paul says will be true of marriage? Is that what’s God calling me to?” I had never, ever envisioned this for my life.

Nancy: I hope you were encouraged by today’s program, it came from a six day series called “If I Could Do it All Over Again.” You can hear all of that series by going to ReviveOurHearts.com. Just click on Resources, then Programs, then January 2017. And remember what I mentioned as we began today’s program . . . your gift this week can still be doubled by our matching challenge, but the time is almost gone for that opportunity, so let us hear from you today.

This chance to double your gift is only available through this coming Sunday. Please respond today.

You can contact us online at ReviveOurHearts.com, call 1–800–569–5959, or drop us a note at P.O. Box 2000, Niles, Michigan, 49120.

Tomorrow we are going to hear more of the top Revive Our Hearts series of 2017. We’ll hear about God’s beautiful design for women and hear from a couple guests who are living that beauty out day by day. Please be back, for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you live according to God's wisdom. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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