Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Dannah Gresh: Like most of us, there have been many times when Kristie Anyabwile was struggling with her perspective. That’s when she called her best friend.

Kristie Anyabwile: I would say, “Hey, tell me what I already know. Tell me what I already know.” And then she speaks the Word of God to me.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of The Quiet Place, for January 14, 2020. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Dannah, I know that both of us had the joy, the privilege of growing up in homes where God’s Word was really honored. The Lord used the example of my parents to plant in me as a young girl seeds of love for God’s Word. You had a similar experience, didn’t you? And your mom, in particular I think, was such a great influence in that.

Dannah: Oh, yes. I think I was about eight years old when my mom said, “Here’s a daily devotion.” There wasn’t, “I’m doing devos, and you’re doing children’s devos.” There wasn’t a, “I’m going to help you because you can’t do it.” There was just an expectation that, “You’re a Christian. You follow Jesus. That means you love and study His Word.”

That really put me on a trajectory for my whole life to love it. There was some training and some shepherding and some tools that my mom gave me, but mostly I think it was the expectation that was formative for me.

Nancy: And what an important thing for mothers to hear (and dads) that you can really plant in your children’s lives—young ones—a seed for love for God’s Word.

The woman I am today, now in my sixties, has been hugely influenced by my parents’ example and encouragement to get into the Word. Getting us under good preaching and good churches, Christian school—a lot of other things—but I think just the love for the Word of God has been such a huge gift to both of us.

And both of us have loved teaching the Word of God since we were little girls.

Dannah: Oh, I love it. You know, shortly after that eight-year-old Dannah started doing devos, I officially announced to my family that I was going to be leading family devos. (laughter)

Nancy: So you started to take it in and give it out.

Dannah: Oh, yes. I still feel that if the Lord teaches me something (I think that’s a little bit of the mark of a teacher) when you have a gift from the Lord to teach . . . (I’m not saying I’m a great teacher. I’m saying I have a passion to teach.) But if He teaches me something, I have to go tell someone. I don’t care who it is, but someone has to be my pupil that day. I love it. I love teaching.

Nancy: And we love, here at Revive Our Hearts, getting women into the Word of God. That’s where life is. Right?

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: Now, our guest today did not have the same background that you and I did. She did not grow up in a Christian home, being saturated in the Word of God. But, Kristie Anyabwile, you have a different story. I’m so glad you do because there are a lot of people listening to our conversation who are thinking, I didn’t grow up in a home like Dannah or Nancy did, and maybe I just missed all that. Is it too late?

You didn’t come to know the Lord until after you and your husband Thabiti were married. Tell us how the Word of God became such an important part of your early Christian experience. But first, let me just say, “Welcome to Revive Our Hearts.”

Kristie: Thank you!

Nancy: I’m supposed to say that, and we’re so glad to have you here.

Kristie: Oh, it is an honor and a joy to be here and to just have this conversation about what we love most—God’s Word. I could literally do this all day. Thank you so much for having me.

Nancy: We’re kindred spirits here.

Kristie: Yes. Amen.

So, the interesting thing here is that I did not, as a child, recognize the influences that were in my life until after I became a Christian.

Nancy: Interesting.

Kristie: My grandmother was elderly when I was a little girl. She passed away a month shy of her 104th birthday. So I only knew my grandmother as an elderly woman.

Nancy: Wow!

Dannah: That’s amazing!

Kristie: We were a family of six. From my early years, I slept with my grandmother. We shared a bed in my early years. I remember, she had one of those old feather mattresses. 

Dannah: The big, lumpy kind?

Kristie: Yes. And pillows. And on the wall she had one of those old tapestries of The Last Supper. Then she had her King James Bible. So every morning I would get on my knees on the side of the bed with my grandmother, and she would lead us in prayer—every day. It was routine. I don’t remember feeling a particular connection to God in those moments, but I knew it was important, and I wanted to honor my grandmother in that.

The second thing that happened was throughout my childhood years, when my grandmother wasn’t busy caring for us and doing things in the home while my parents were at work, she would read in her Bible. All day, every day, she read the Bible and the newspaper. That was it.

But it wasn’t until after the Lord saved me that I really began to value that time that I had with my grandmother early on. She was a faithful church goer. She loved the Lord from the time that she was a little girl. So I think the Lord was kind in having her example given to me at an early age and then being able to reflect back on that as someone who was now a believer, and God’s Spirit now showing me things that I maybe had just disregarded.

I guess I’m saying that to say to parents, to families: Don’t discount the value of whatever godly example you’re setting before your children. Even if you don’t necessarily see the fruit, it does not mean that the Lord isn’t at work. It does mean that the Lord is doing His work in His way and in His time. He produces fruit from it. We may or may not see that fruit immediately, but we trust God’s Word that it doesn’t return void, and that it accomplishes what He set out for it to accomplish.

Nancy: What a great encouragement. And there is some elderly grandmother listening to this conversation right now, and it’s giving her encouragement.

Once you became a Christian, then I’m sure that you began to understand why this was so important to her.

Kristie: Yes. It’s sweet because now I get to have conversations with both of my grandmothers. And the sweetness of our relationship, once I became a believer, I cannot even put into words the value of that time—being able to call my grandmother, ask her to pray for me, her talking to me about what she read in the Scriptures that day, and just being able to have spiritual conversations about the Lord and what He’s doing in our lives. I cannot even put into words the value of that.

So, yes, it just became really, really sweet after that. Those are just some of my fondest memories of my grandmothers, just having those telephone conversations. I was in college; they were at home. So I had a lot of telephone conversations about the Lord when we weren’t together.

Nancy: Can you remember, as a new Christian . . . You were a young wife. You and your husband came to know the Lord at the same time—which is another really sweet story. Can you remember, did you right away start to have a hunger for God’s Word? How did that grow? What cultivated in you that hunger?

Kristie: When the Lord saved us, we were in a church that was away from our home. So the leaders in that church said, “Hey, when you get home, find a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church that you can plug into.” That’s what we did. Even though we knew the Lord had saved us, we also immediately knew there was a lot that we did not know. So we were, like, “Whoa! We’ve got to get into this Book!”

So we got Bibles. We got a Vine’s Concordance—it’s the big, thick ones. There was no online material at that point. My husband and I, we would just sit at our breakfast nook and read the Word of God. We’d ask each other questions, look up things in the concordance, pray. Just the more we spent time in God’s Word, the more the Lord grew our hunger for His Word.

The more we spend time in God’s Word, the more the Lord grows our hunger for His Word.

So it was, literally, starting to read the Bible, and the Lord showing us Himself in it. But then also, we just couldn’t wait. Every morning we would get up, and we couldn’t wait to get back to that breakfast nook to open the Word of God and just to see what the Lord was going to teach us.

Nancy: Like newborn babes desiring the milk of the Word.

Kristie: Yes! It’s that new believer zeal and fervency that you have that I wish we could maintain for the entirety of our Christian lives. Do you all know anybody who maintains that level of zealousness and fervor for the Lord?

Nancy: It is hard, but I’ve noticed . . . When you think about physical eating, the more you eat, the less you want because you’re full. You get stuffed, and then you’re not hungry anymore. But I think with the Word it often works exactly the opposite. If you don’t eat, you lose your appetite. And the more you do eat, the more you long for it, the more you desire it, the more it satisfies, the more it fills, and you say, “I want more.”

Dannah: yes.

Kristie: And situations and circumstances happen in life that cause that bond to break. The Word is always life giving, but we go through seasons and times in life where we step away from the Word.

So I think it’s just a challenge for us—but more than a challenge, an encouragement for us—to not let the circumstances of life draw us away from the Word, but to press in even more because that’s where we’re going to find life. That’s how we’re going to be able to sustain that sense of zeal and fervency and joy and just enlargement of our hearts in approaching God and living out the Christian life.

Nancy: And, actually, that’s a good segway to where I want to go. I want us to just have a little round table. As you’re listening today, if you’re at a place where you can just stop and pull up a chair here at the table with us, open your Bible to Psalm 119, or scroll there.

Kristie has edited a book, and actually contributed a number of chapters to a book called, His Testimonies, My Heritage. The subtitle is, Women of Color on the Word of God.

So these are women from Asian backgrounds, African-American, different ethnicities, who’ve written twenty-some chapters on Psalm 119, which is the longest and one of my favorite chapters in God’s Word. I want us to just unpack some of that psalm today. (Now, I wish we could just take time to read it, which, if you haven’t ever done that, reading Psalm 119 aloud is a great experience. It takes you about fifteen minutes, depending on how fast you read.)

We’re going to tell you how you can get Kristie’s book, if you want to find out more or if you want to take a deeper dive into Psalm 119. But as I was listening to Psalm 119 on my phone before this conversation, I was just thinking: What words keep popping up? What are the key phrases and thoughts?

And I noticed this juxtaposition. Words like: joy, hope, blessing, love.

  • “I love Your Word.”
  • “It is my delight.”
  • “I stand in awe of Your Word.”

You see that all through Psalm 119. And then you also see these hard places, like:

  • “My soul clings to the dust.”
  • “I am in great affliction.”
  • “My heart is in deep trouble.”
  • “I’m like a lost sheep.”
  • “I’m confused.”
  • “I don’t know which way to go.”
  • “I don’t know how to get victory over sexual sin or how to keep my way pure.”

You see these hardships, these hard places. It seems to me like the psalmist is saying, “In these hard places, when that’s where I am. It presses me to the Lord and to His Word, and that ultimately is how I get whatever I need—joy or life or healing.”

Dannah: That’s right.

Nancy: So I want to talk about some of our own experiences when we’re in trouble, we’re pressed, we’re stressed, we’re anxious, we’re angry, we’re in a difficult marriage or with a difficult child. Here we are in the start of a new year, and none of us knows what this year is going to bring forth. God knows. But there’s going to be hardships.

In your experience, Dannah, your experience, Kristie, in mine . . . As you’re listening to this conversation, I want you to think about your own experience: How have hard times and places pressed you to the Word of God? And how has the Word of God rescued you? How has it brought you life? How has it helped you? What does the Word of God do for us?

I think it’s going to give us a vision of why it’s so important at the start of this year that we really dive into God’s Word.

Dannah: My first thought, as you were saying that, is that you’re saying when we’re afflicted or troubled or over wrought with our sin, that the source and the solution is the Word of God. It’s always the source and solution. But we are not as mindful of it when everything is going well, and the Word isn’t quite as much a treasure, is it?

Nancy, you know that Bob and I went through a really hard time in our marriage several years ago. I remember just the darkness of those first few days as we realized, “How did this happen? How did we get here? How do we fix this? Who do we reach out to for help?”

I called a girlfriend, Donna—one of my dearest friends for the longest time. I just said, “It just feels dark. Everything just feels dark. Like, even when I open the Word, my heart’s so broken. I can hardly receive it. When I talk to a friend, I don’t know what to say because, where do I start? I’ve never hurt this much. I don’t want to eat. I can’t sleep. All that stuff that we go through for a myriad of reasons—right?”

And she just said, “His Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

And I said, “Donna, I’m reading it, but I hurt.”

And she said, “Keep reading it. Keep reading it. And notice this: He’s not promising you a solar system of light. He’s not promising you a stadium light. You’re not going to see 150 yards. He’s promising you a lamp. You’re going to see a few steps. You just need to be satisfied to read His Word and say, ‘Okay, God. This is my next step.’ And take it. And then read His Word and take the next step.”

And that’s what I did. And it became the joy. It became the peace. It became the hope as I used it in that time of affliction and pain.

Kristie: Yes. I have a good friend—one of my best friends as well. Her name is Nadia. Whenever I’m going through a difficult time . . . I don’t know how it started, but I would call her, and I would say, “Hey, tell me what I already know. Tell me what I already know.” And then she speaks the Words of God to me.

Nancy: That’s good!

Kristie: Sometimes when you’re in pain, when you’re suffering, when you’re struggling, you do have that kind of dryness where maybe the Word even feels cold or distant. But sometimes having someone speak the truth of the Word to you, it helps to bring that light. Right?

I was thinking about . . . Nancy, you made reference to this verse: verse 25 in Psalm 119. It says, “My soul clings to the dust.” Then it says, “Give me life according to Your Word (solution). When I told You of my ways (confession), You answered me. Teach me Your statutes.”

So the Lord gives us His Word so that we might have life, so that we might see the light of day in the midst of darkness. And there’s no other way. We can’t effectively, successfully come out of seasons of darkness if we don’t have the light of the Word shining on that situation. Right?

In those times of pain and struggle, we know that life is going to come through the Word, so I need to have the Word of Life spoken over me, prayed over me—out of myself or someone else. I need to be quick to take my burdens to the Lord in prayer, trusting that He will answer and that He will teach me and He will give me more of Himself.

That’s just been the pattern of my life, and I’m pretty confident of every Christian’s life, that in the midst of difficulties, we see Christ. We see the Lord come through—if I can say it in that way—when we spend time in His Word.

It seems so simple, but I don’t know, maybe it’s the enemy. I don’t know what it is that makes it feel difficult in the midst of hardship. Sometimes just having, as you said, Dannah, friends to come alongside . . .

Dannah: Don’t you think one of the things that makes it difficult is sin? When Bob and I were struggling, there was sin. When friends are struggling, there’s sin. When there’s struggles in your church, there’s sin. When one person sins grievously, the Bible really says, “Hey, watch yourself while you’re restoring this person lest you also sin.” That’s what it says in Galatians 6:1. Because what happens when one person sins, it feeds our flesh. It feeds our hurt. It feeds our woundedness and our tendencies to sin.

I think sin gets in the way of us hearing the Word. Philip Yancey once said, “Sin is like static interference.” (That’s kind of old language now with WiFi and everything.) We’re trying to hear from God, so think of it this way: It’s a bad WiFi connection. Sin is what gets in the way.

Nancy: It’s disruptive.

Dannah: Yes. It disrupts that ability to hear. And Psalm 119 even says that. “Hey! How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your Word.”

Kristie: That’s right.

Dannah: Even when we’re sinning, the solution to that affliction is coming back to the Word. But sometimes when I’m sinful, my soul is so hard, that I have to read something over and over and over again until it breaks through the soil of that hardness.

Kristie: Yes.

Nancy: Thinking about that verse 25, Kristie, I have a dear friend who has been through some very painful circumstances where she was sinned against, was wronged in some very devastating ways. This gal comes from a rough background and a lot of abusive things in her past. She has had, at different times, basically a death wish. She told me in a conversation not too long ago, “Every night I’ve been asking God to kill me.”

Now, here’s a woman who knows the Lord and loves the Lord, but the enemy has got a hold of her mind because of some circumstances that were past her control. I was listening to this, and I was so heavy-hearted. I was just burdened for how to minister grace to her.

I thought about two verses in Psalm 119 as she said, “I asked God to just kill me. I’m not going to kill myself, but would You just kill me?”

I thought about this verse 25. (I’m reading it in the CSB here.) I was with her the next day, and I’d been thinking and praying for her, and I read her these two verses.

The psalmist said, “My life is down in the dust.” (The ESV says, “My soul clings to the dust.” I mean, how much lower can you get?) “Give me life through your word.”

And then verse 107 says, “I am severely afflicted; Lord, give me life according to your word.”

I said to her, “What if every time you want to pray, ‘Lord, kill me,’ . . . That’s not God putting that prayer in your heart. Satan comes to kill and steal and destroy. What if you turned that to a prayer? Even though you’re not sure you want to live, what if you said, ‘Lord, my life is in the dust. My soul clings to the dust. I am severely afflicted. Would You give me life according to Your Word? Would You speak life to me?’”

She said, “Well, I’m not sure I want that.”

I said, “He sent His Word and healed them, Psalm 107 says. God’s Word has such power to change the way we think, to change what we love, to change what we long for, to give us the guidance, to turn the darkness into light, to turn the hopelessness and despair into hope.”

I’ve seen this through this ministry over and over and over again. I’ve seen it in my own life. I’m seeing it in my sweet friend’s life as God is, even when she has no idea which way to turn, she knows that the Word of God can bring healing and that God is going to give her life according to His Word.

I’m so thrilled, Kristie, that you’ve put together this book of reflections on Psalm 119, because God’s Word itself is life giving. It’s not what you and your friends have written. It’s how can we get people into the Word of God, which is so powerful to heal and to change and to revive. “Revive me according to Your Word.” (That’s in Psalm 119.)

And I know that many who are listening to this conversation today are in that soul-clinging-to-the-dust place or many others of us have a friend who is—and if it’s not you right now, it may be you around the corner. We go through those times. You say, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know which way to turn.”

This book might be a study that could help you get into Psalm 119 to get hope and joy and life and peace, healing, restoration, revival—whatever is needed. And we want to make Kristie’s book available. We call it Kristie’s book—she’s the editor of it—and women of many different ethnicities have contributed to this book. It’s called, His Testimonies, My Heritage. God’s Word, my heritage. My hope, my heritage.

If the Lord prompts you to make a donation to Revive Our Hearts this week of any amount, your gift is an investment that will help us give God’s Word to hurting people, help them get restored. Not because of my words or our words, but because of His Word. And when you make a donation today, if you request Kristie’s book on Psalm 119, we’d love to send that to you just as our way of saying, “Thank you for investing in this ministry.”

Thank you for helping us get the Word of God to women in this country and around the world—women of many different languages and tongues and tribes and nations, people groups. They’re hungry for God’s Word. And that’s what we’re doing. So, as you help us, we’d like to minister to you by sending you a copy of Kristie’s book on Psalm 119.

So be sure to ask for that book when you contact us at ReviveOurHearts.com. You can go there to make your donation, or you can give us a call at 1–800–569–5959. Let us know that you’d like to give a gift to the ministry and be sure and request Kristie’s book on Psalm 119. (It’s not actually called Kristie’s book, but that’s what we’re calling it here.)

I want to also encourage you to join us again for Revive Our Hearts tomorrow because we’re going to pick up this conversation with Dannah and Kristie and do a little workshop, a little “how-to” session on studying the Word of God. How can you get into God’s Word and open it up and have it make sense and make sense of it and do what it’s intended to do in your life?

Now, it’s not going to be, like, a whole seminary course, But we’re three women who love the Word, who’s studying God’s Word, and we’re going to just talk together about some of the practical tools that help us to do that.

So be sure and join us tomorrow as we continue this conversation with Dannah Gresh and Kristie Anyabwile on Psalm 119, getting into God’s Word and getting God’s Word into you, right here on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth points you to the true lamp for your feet and light for your path. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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