Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Let God Write Your Résumé

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Dannah Gresh: When you apply for a job, you put your best foot forward. You stress your strengths and your accomplishments. Robert Wolgemuth says that in the job of life, God is equally as interested in the parts you might think are less attractive.

Robert Wolgemuth: God writes the résumé. As you grow in your relationship with Him, and as you take life a day at a time, you realize those things you thought were huge impediments or even failures, God uses them for His glory.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, along with Dannah Gresh, for September 4, 2019.

(Sounds of a typewriter clicking.)

Dannah: If you’re on the younger side of life, you might not even recognize that sound, but those of us who are . . . well, let’s say more mature, know that sound very well. In fact, some of us hear that sound and it brings us back to memories of all-nighters, slamming out term papers the night before they were due.

The typewriter replaced the pen as the tool of writers for a couple of generations. Now, of course, personal computers have taken over.

Today we have some authors in the studio. Not only are we joined by our host, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, but also by her husband, author Robert Wolgemuth—both of whom I’m sure are acquainted with the typewriter.

Nancy, you’ve written over, what, twenty books now?

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Just about twenty, yes.

Dannah: And Robert, you’ve written . . .?

Robert: More than that—a few more—but they haven’t sold as many copies. (laughter)

Dannah: This, though, is your first book that you’ve written together, and I’m talking about, You Can Trust God to Write Your Story.”

Nancy: And you can trust God to help you write your story with your spouse.

Robert: That’s right. Exactly.

Dannah: Did you have to at times? Were there difficult moments when you were writing?

Nancy: We did.

Robert: Oh, yes.

Nancy: We have to trust God to help us write every book, but to do it together, that’s a challenge at times. But there is also a lot of joy in it.

Robert: Oh, yes.

Dannah: You’re such a great storyteller, Robert. That comes alive in the pages of this book. And, Nancy, the teaching . . .

Nancy: Yes, if you see bullet points, chances are I drafted those.

Robert: This is actually the conversation we had the night before we started this project. Nancy said that. I hadn’t really thought about what I do when I write and what I’m particularly good at. But she said, “You’re a really good storyteller in writing, so why don’t you kind of shepherd that part of the book, and I’ll take care of the bullet points, the doctrinal stuff.” So we shared it back and forth. That was kind of our assignment, and it worked great.

Dannah: Did it? Were there any tough spots that you can tell us about?

Nancy: No. (laughing)

Robert: Every day—every single day.

Nancy: But nothing we can tell you about. (laughing)

Robert: Well, the thing is, when you write, I mentioned this yesterday, you can’t compromise. You have one word, and you have another word. You can’t say, “Well, let’s pick something in-between.” You have to pick one or the other. Nancy says it all the time: “You breathe grace in. You breathe grace out. Word by word.” And that’s what we did.

Nancy: What was really fun, or meaningful, rich, about this experience was that we were talking with friends, people we’ve known for a long time, in most cases, who have been through really hard places and have found the grace of God. God has transformed them through the hard things, and now they’re beautiful people. You say, “I want what they have, but I don’t know that I want to go through what they went through to get that.”

So we were listening to these stories and being deeply moved, deeply touched, and saying, “How do we steward that story? How do we tell it in a way that is helpful and meaningful?” And many of them we didn’t use their real names because they’re people who, maybe their child is still a prodigal, and that’s not our story to tell.

Dannah: Other stories are many times still in process which is totally, I think, so brave about the book.

Robert: Yes. Nancy used the perfect verb there—steward. The story in the gospels of the master who leaves three of his servants with stuff. And we felt like we had been given five talents from these people. And when we’d hang up or walk away from these conversations, we would say to each other, and we’d often pray and say, “Lord, help us to be good stewards of a precious gift these people have given us.”

They were honest. They were candid. And, like Nancy said, most of these people we knew, but even so, it was really a valuable thing they had entrusted to our care. And we did our very best to carefully manage that gift.

Dannah: You did it beautifully. Story after story, it’s just a refueling of your trust in God.

Now, here’s the thing that’s interesting to me: As we read a fiction book or as we watch a great movie, we love those plot twists. We love the conflict. We love the drama. But when it’s our own story . . .

Nancy: We don’t want quite so much of that.

Dannah: Yes! On the pages of real life . . .

Nancy: Give me a boring life! (laughter)

Dannah: With all the “happily-ever-after” you can muster. Right?

Nancy/Robert: Right.

Dannah: But that’s not really how God usually chooses to write our stories, and that’s probably why we love the conflict and the drama and the plot twists, because deep down in our spirits, is it possible that we know He is unfolding something beautiful?

Nancy: Not only that, we know He is unfolding something beautiful, but we also know He uses those hard things to change us. That’s what trials do. That’s what affliction does. That’s what suffering does. It changes us. It softens us. It deepens our trust in Him.

So we think, Oh, couldn’t I just trust God if everything were going well in my life?

Well, the truth is: we don’t. We become idolaters. We cling to the things of this earth. If the sun is always shining, we’ve got money in the bank, and you never have a spat with your mate, you never have a problem with your child, why would you need God? We wouldn’t think we needed God.

But when the rug is pulled out from under us and we’re in a crisis, where do we look? We fall to our knees. We look up, and we say, “Oh, God! I can’t do this!” And in the process, we are transformed into people that He can use to further the gospel message.

Dannah: That reminds me of the promise we find in the book of Romans. It says, “We know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us” (5:3–5 HCSB).

Nancy: We want the hope and the character—all the good fruit—without the first part, the affliction and tribulations.

Dannah: That’s so true.

Nancy: And there are no shortcuts.

I think of our dear friend, Joni Eareckson Tada, who—part of her story is in this book—and anybody who has heard her name or has seen her, she is just so full of Jesus. She’s a praising, thankful, grateful woman. She’s always singing hymns, and she just has this amazing grace-filled life. But then you think, Where did she get that?

It’s fifty-some years bound to a wheelchair as a quadriplegic. And we think, Oh, I’d like that fruit, but don’t put me through something like that.

Dannah: It’s beautiful fruit, Nancy.

One year at True Woman she was speaking, and I had this terrible, awful migraine in the middle of the day. I had been working with the teens all morning. (I don’t think that had anything to do with my migraine.)

Nancy: Could have. (laughter)

Dannah: But I came to the lunch room where all the speakers were eating. I just had to get in the corner, put a jacket over my head so I was in darkness, and be still. I was nauseous and in excruciating pain. As I’m laying there, I felt someone touching my hand, like, rubbing my hand gently, like a mother or grandmother would. So I peeked out from my jacket, and it was Joni’s assistant. Joni was up above her saying, “Sweet Sister, I just felt so burdened for your pain. I heard that you were in pain. Can I pray for you?”

Nancy: Wow!

Dannah: And I thought to myself, What beautiful fruit has come out of this woman’s life because of her suffering and pain?

Nancy: And would she have had that sensitivity, that tenderness, that ability to comfort others, if she’d never needed the comfort of God?

Dannah: Well, no offense against any of the other speakers, but they weren’t there. Like, we were all in the room, but it was her battle with suffering and pain that had produced such strong empathy that she would come over to a woman with a headache. I had a headache, and she was in a wheelchair.

That’s the kind of fruit that trusting God produces in your life.

Nancy: Not only in us, but then through us to others. So we get hope, and then we’re able to be purveyors of hope to others because of what we’ve been through.

Dannah: Exactly.

The stories in this book are riveting. There are stories on trusting God when your marriage is in trouble. What else is there, Nancy? Stories on trusting God when you lose your health.

Nancy: Yes. When you have a prodigal child. When you have financial struggles. Robert, you talk about the loss of your business.

Robert: Yes. The loss of my business.

Dannah: That was a really big story for me. Can we just stop there and talk about that?

Robert: Sure.

Dannah: Because so many women I meet, their families are in financial crisis for one reason or another, and I think that’s one of the ways that God produces the endurance and the character and the hope in us.

Take us back to Thursday, February 28, 1992. You were in the Christian publishing world. You’re kind of a big deal in the Christian publishing world, Robert.

Robert: Well, to my mother I was. (laughter)

Dannah: To your mother . . . to a lot of other people you were, too. You represent lots of people as an agent.

Robert: Right.

Dannah: You’ve written books. You’ve been in the publishing side of it. But that particular day in February, 1992 . . .

Robert: It was my forty-fourth birthday. I will never forget it. I had started a business with my buddy, Michael Hyatt. We had a publishing company. We had been in business for five years, had published about 150 titles. We had debt. We were carrying debt. Just so you know, the book publishing business is a cash furnace.

Dannah: It burns it up.

Robert: It burns it up. I got the phone call that every entrepreneur hopes he’ll never get: My note was being called, and it was over. There was absolutely nothing I could do. I went into Mike’s office. Actually, I sat down on the floor under my desk—I had a table for a desk—and cried, because that was it. I had leveraged my home, everything. My financial status was zero.

Dannah: When you say you leveraged your home, how did that work out?

Robert: Well, I had to move. I had a car that had a loan. They took it back. Two daughters, one in private high school, one in college, private college, both came home. It was over.

Dannah: This is severe, ground zero financially.

Robert: Absolutely.

Nancy: And it’s not only you going through this, but it’s your wife walking through it with you.

Robert: Clearly.

Nancy: I love how I’ve heard you say that Bobbie, and I think your girls really picked this up, that she didn’t berate you. There was something in her heart that was trusting God to write this story, too, as hard as it was.

Robert: Yes. I never heard her say, “Well, there you go again. Leveraging everything against this, and now what are we going to do?”

So we listed the house, sold the house . . . all those things. The girls came home from school. So, yes, it was a huge challenge. There was a sense in which, even without really knowing what we were doing, the Lord had prepared us for hard times.

I mean, the story of an entrepreneur is a story of a person who has to be willing to face this or he should never go into business or she should never go into business, because you have no safety net. You’re out there doing the backflips off the trapeze, and if you slip and fall, you’re toast. It’s over.

So that’s really what we had done. But the truth is, and you hear this all the time, people saying, “If I had it to do over again, I would do it just like that,” because, as Nancy just said, it’s in those experiences that you know the grace of God in a way that you wouldn’t have known. I don’t like this truth. I’d rather if we had learned this stuff without having to go through the hard stuff.

In fact, for the men or football fans that are listening, years ago I walked through the Dallas Cowboy’s training facility with a guy named Bill Bates. He was like a rocket ship on the field, Tennessee grad, special teams. He was nuts in terms of the way he would throw his body at it. I talked with him about the training, and he said, “I do it, or I die on the field.” So he worked out six days a week, off season, on season, whatever, in order to survive.

It’s really interesting . . . You can choose to work out. You can’t choose what’s going to happen to you, but you can choose to be ready. So that’s the truth of what we’re talking about here. In God’s Word, in His presence, talking to others about your love for Him, in prayer—that’s the training room. That’s the facility that gets you ready for trusting God to write your story when there are twists and turns.

Dannah: In real time, you probably didn’t think, Wow! This is a great chapter in my story! Right? But you’re now saying, “Looking back on it, I wouldn’t have changed it.” Why? What did you gain from that?

Robert: You’re right. This is the box score the following morning. Everything looks great in black and white. But in the moment, I mean, I am sitting under my table in my office, crying. And as the days unfolded, others of our team coming into my office, without a word, hugging me, crying. 

Dannah: They didn’t have jobs now.

Robert: That’s right. All unemployed.

Dannah: So you felt the weight of not only your own family, but the weight of all these other families.

Robert: Absolutely right, yes. If you’d be able to gather all of us together—this was twenty-five years ago—and say, “Now, let’s talk about what the Lord has done in your life using this experience.” I mean, God writes their résumé, and you don’t know when you’re going to need to pull that out, but He doesn’t make any mistakes in your résumé.

As you grow in your relationship with Him, and as you take life a day at a time, you realize that those things you thought were huge impediments, or even failures, God uses them for His glory. That’s His promise. He will take the things that we experience, and He will use them for His glory whether we like it or not.

It’s a very important principle in this whole conversation about trusting God.

Dannah: I have a question about your story that has been just ruminating in my heart since I first read this, and that is: What was the most painful part? Was it the loss of your dream? Was it the loss of the employment or the income? Was it the loss of the job for all those families? Was it what your own family had to go through? 

Robert: It’s hard to say one, but I’m going to say, at least right off the top of my head, the creeping doubt that I had no business doing this. I had no business leveraging everything. I had no business. Even though my family knew what I was doing, leveraging our home, our cars, everything against that.

So what happens is, I think Satan whispers and says, “You have no idea what you’re doing. You are a failure. Go find a job doing something menial. Don’t leverage anything against anything.”

Dannah: He loves that. I think, as a mom, he’s constantly saying, “Who do you think you are? What are you doing?”

Robert: That’s right.

Dannah: As a mom, as an author, as a wife, whatever I do, that’s been one of the taunts that he’s loved to throw at me.

Robert: Yes. And this is really where the body of Christ comes in, because when you encourage each other, you are speaking truth into each other’s hearts, even if you don’t believe it. Right?

So, I’m a failure. I should never do anything like this again. And then somebody’s voice who says, “I believe in you.” A mate is the most important person right there who says, “You know what? You’re not a failure. I trust you. Let’s live in a double-wide for a while—no problem.”

When somebody that you love says that to you, then you can begin to believe it yourself.

Dannah: Did Bobbie say that to you?

Robert: She did. Yes, absolutely.

Dannah: You ended up in a double-wide?

Robert: No, but she would have. We rented a home.

Dannah: You rented a home?

Robert: Oh, yes.

Dannah: You sold your dream home and moved into a rental.

Robert: We had no equity.

Dannah: You know, Bob and I went through something like that where we ran into some financial problems and realized that our solution was to sell our home. It was a little home, 1200 square feet, little, itty bitty ranch house, but we’d lovingly painted it. I’d gotten the “yard-of-the-month” award from the local newspaper—all the stuff. And we had this in-ground swimming pool in the back yard where there was just birthday parties and memories and bar-b-ques and the youth group with the baked bean fight, and all the stuff. Right?

As we sold the house, the most painful thing for me was, “But, God, what about my kids? Okay, teach me something. Teach Bob something. We’re adults, but don’t take this home away from my children.”

I think at those times, you run to the Word. Right? If you’ve been trained, if you’ve done that before, and I found this treasure sitting there by the swimming pool that just carried me through the rental, and it was Proverbs 14:26, “Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge” (NIV). It’s the fear of the Lord that’s the fortress. It’s the fear of the Lord that’s the home, the shelter for my children.

And times like that really force you to look at what’s true.

Nancy: Well, I’m the daughter who watched my dad, as a businessman, go through a season of, different than Robert’s story, but a lot of financial loss and pressure and strain in his industry. I was in tenth grade. I was in a Christian school and had a world culture’s class that year that talked about God’s sovereignty and control over the world and our circumstances.

Well, the greatest lessons I learned about the meaning of God’s sovereignty and His providence I learned by watching my dad that year go through horrendous stuff in his business and things that impacted us as a family. And not only financially, but also with my mother’s health and with our home burning in a fire that same year. (I mean, when it rains, it pours.) 

I watched my dad lift his eyes up to the Lord and be as grateful and contented in times of loss and pain as he was when he was making money hand over fist and his business was successful and his wife had health and our home was standing.

That made a huge mark in my tenth grade heart that year that really did more to teach me about the goodness and the faithfulness of God than anything I could have studied in a theology class because I saw it lived out. That became a refuge—my dad’s and my mom’s because she walked through all of that with him.

Their trust in the faithfulness of God became a refuge for my soul. I had no idea what kind of things I was going to walk through in my life, but as I have, I’ve been able to anchor my heart in that same faithfulness of God because I saw it demonstrated.

I look at your daughters, Honey, and I think, Those are women, now in their forties, with families of their own, and hardships of their own. We’ve watched them walk through some hard things. 

Robert: Yes, we have.

Nancy: Yes, there’s pain. Yes, there’s stuff you would wish you could write differently, but we’ve watched them with their eyes up and say, “God, You are good, and You are faithful.”

Robert: Yes. It’s the power of an example of somebody who does it faithfully. I mean, you can learn two ways: “I’m never going to do it that way,” or “I’d love to learn how to do it that way.” You can learn by great examples or bad examples. It’s much easier to learn from good examples.

So, as parents, this is not intended to be additional pressure that we might feel, but your kids are running the video tape constantly, and they’re saying, “How transparent is my dad? How willing is my dad to ask forgiveness? What is my dad going to do under pressure? He can’t control what happens, but he can control what happens to what happens, and I’m going to learn from him.”

So, does he have idols? (We’ve talked about this. Right?) Your treasure can become your idol. And if you learn anything from Scripture, it’s that God has a really hard time with idols. So we set these things up, and then they get torn down. And we realize God’s faithfulness in showing us what we were worshipping rather than Him. And it always falls short. That’s a lesson we learn in trusting God.

Dannah: Yes. And, I guess, Nancy, one of the things that I’m hearing is that, not only can we trust God to write our stories, but we can trust God to write the stories of our children.

Nancy: And many of the people we talked to said this very same thing. When your children break your heart, when they make choices that are devastating to them and to you and to their future and your family reputation, you can trust God that He is working in your children’s lives even when you can’t see it.

One of the things that these moms and dads have shared with us is that it’s important not to rescue your children from what God’s wanting to do in their lives, because that’s the instinct. You don’t want them to hurt. You don’t want them to suffer. You want to pick them up and make it all better. Well, they’re not three. They may be thirty-three, and they’re having to learn.

It doesn’t mean you push them off the cliff. It doesn’t mean you make them hurt, but you can trust that God is working, not only in your own life, but through your story or through their failures, that He’s working in their lives as well.

Dannah: I remember a time when one of my children was just really lonely, living away from home for a summer, working two jobs, in college—lonely, lonely, lonely. And I thought, You know, I can write books anywhere. I’ll just go and live in their apartment for the summer, and I’ll fix this.”

And as I was planning that, I remember something in my heart—I’m sure it was God’s Spirit—saying, “Maybe this period of loneliness will be what teaches my child to embrace true friendship with Jesus.”

Nancy: Yes.

Dannah: And, oh, I just wept because I did not want to trust God with that. I wanted to circumnavigate the pain. But I had to choose to trust. And as I watched that summer unfold, what a beautiful friendship with Jesus was birthed out of that loneliness.

Robert: What a great story.

Dannah: This is a really special book. I don’t want to trivialize it because it’s deep theology. You not only share the stories of real living people today, but you awaken the storyline of several people that lived during the time that Jesus did or during the Old Testament times, and you bring those stories to life as well.

Nancy: Yes. So many characters in Scripture, these were real people with real circumstances, real hard lives. And people we’re mostly familiar with, you know, Joseph in the Old Testament; Ruth and Naomi and their story of hardship; Mary and Joseph and their story of hardship. It’s not just the time they were living. It’s not just something on a pretty Christmas card. There was hard pain. She was a single mom. There was disrespect and hurt to their reputation and the whole change of their plans.

In each of these cases . . . We write these interludes throughout the book. Robert, you were so good at writing these stories in ways that are true to Scripture, but give you a bit more of a sense of what they might have been walking through.

So we can see they had to trust God to write their stories, and they found Him faithful, not only in their moment and their chapter, but then as we can only see now looking back, their story, as it turned out, was part of a much bigger, grander story that God was writing, which is the gospel. It was leading to Jesus. It was leading to the story of redemption. It was all a part of a bigger story.

At the end of the day, one of the things that I think helps us in our own hard stories, our hard chapters, is that, really, it’s not about me. It’s not about my story. It’s about God’s story and what He’s writing and what He’s doing.

Robert: That’s right.

Nancy: So here’s this fourteen-year old teenage girl, and the angel comes and says, “You’re going to have a child.” Just imagine the faith that was required to walk into that moment, but she’s saying, “Yes, Lord. This isn’t the way I would have written my story, but I’m available. Do what You what to do. Use me. And I’m willing for You to write Your story through my life.”

Well, how blessed are we today that Mary of Nazareth said, “Yes, Lord.” And who may be blessed a hundred years from now or 2,000 years from now if the Lord were to tarry, because you and I, Robert, or Dannah, you and Bob, were willing to say to God in that hard moment, “This isn’t the story I would write, but I’m willing to trust You. Yes, Lord”?

Dannah: Yes, Lord.

You know, it makes me think that we need to stop thinking of ourselves as the protagonist and the lead character, because we’re not. He is.

Nancy: Yes, exactly. He is.

Robert: That’s right.

Dannah: Jesus is. And we are these extras in the story.

Nancy: But yet He cares about us.

Dannah: He does.

Nancy: How sweet is that? Even though it is all about Him, and yet, He says, “I care about what’s happening in your life and your story.”

Dannah: I feel like this book is kind of a “Chicken Soup for the Soul” but much, much better because it’s full of theology and truth that will just carry you through really hard times.

One of the things that’s kind of a tradition is to dedicate Nancy’s books in prayer on the Revive Our Hearts program. I’m wondering if now you could maybe just take a moment and pray over those people who, maybe they have been thinking they’re the lead character, and they’re feeling some conviction to begin to cooperate with the big story of the gospel. Or maybe they’re going through a really horrific dark chapter in their story, and they just feel like, “Where is the hope? God, do You know what You’re doing?”

I feel like praying over this book to dedicate it is also dedicating ourselves to the purpose of the gospel story and trusting Him. Would you pray?

Robert: Oh, I’d love to do that.

So, Lord, we’re thinking about Your story, history—His Story—and people that we read about in Your Word, like Esther. And the phrase that comes to mind, and it’s such a familiar phrase, is that Esther came to her time “for such a time as this.” She went through what she went through by Your careful divine providence. And, ironically, Your name isn’t even mentioned, Father, in the book, but we know it’s a snapshot of what it looks like to trust You and to save Your people as a result of the faithfulness of a young lady.

And so we thank You that even today we can do the same thing. We have no idea what You’re up to, but You do. And so, because You’ve already been to tomorrow, and You’re looking back on our now, we completely trust You with what’s going to happen.

So we dedicate this book. I thank You for my precious wife and the joy, as it turns out, that we had in writing this book together. And we pray, Father, that You will use these pages, these words, to inspire people, to encourage them to lay aside idols, to give them hope in the midst of absolute terror.

And I pray that You will turn all of this into gospel truth; that we know that the cross preceded the empty tomb, and we can trust You to write our story, whatever it is.

So we thank You, I thank You, for every person listening right now—man or woman, young and old—that You would encourage them, that You would inspire them with the truth of Your Word and with the hope of the gospel. Encourage them that everything that is happening to us is by Your plan, by Your design, by Your kindness and mercy and grace. And so we submit to that—sometimes not too happily—but we know it’s right. We know it’s true. And so we do so with grateful hearts.

Thank You for this book. Thank You for my precious Nancy who faithfully not just writes books, but does Revive Our Hearts broadcasts day after day, and for Dannah and the joy of having her join us. We’re very grateful.

We thank You for everything You’ve brought to and will bring to us, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Nancy/Dannah: Amen.

Nancy: Thank you, Honey. And we really are eager to see how the Lord is going to use this book in people’s lives, whether they’re going through a hard time, or they know somebody who is, or a hard time is around the corner they have no idea of.

We’re eager to get this resource into the hands of all our listeners, and we’d be glad to send that to you this month as our way of saying “thank you” when you make a gift of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. We think it’s going to bless you, and by your gift, you’re going to be helping us continue blessing women around the world.

So, Dannah, we do hope that they’ll make a donation. How can they do that? How can they get a hold of this book?

Dannah: Well, they can go toReviveOurHearts.com and make a donation online, or they can call us at 1–800–569–5959. And be sure to request your copy of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story: Embracing the Mysteries of Providence.

Nancy: We’re going to continue this theme when we come back tomorrow, opening God’s Word about what it means to trust God to write your story. So be sure to join us tomorrow and all through this month on Revive Our Hearts as we talk about trusting God to write your story.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you rest in the sovereignty of God. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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