Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Meekness in Relationships

Dannah Gresh: When I hear the word “meek” I usually think of how I relate to other people. But Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth reminds us that the quality of meekness helps us relate correctly to God.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I think meekness is what allows us to just rest in the arms of a God who is there, who is good, who knows what He’s doing.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Surrender: The Heart God Controls, for Friday, July 16, 2021. I'm Dannah Gresh.

Meekness . . . it's been our topic for most of two weeks. Nancy's been giving us a biblical understanding of meekness. If you've missed any of those programs look for the series, "The Beauty of Meekness" at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Practically, what does a meek person look like? Some people have been listening to this series during Nancy's teaching, and they are about to discuss how to incorporate meekness into everyday life. First, Dorothy. She says that meekness starts with surrendering to the Lord.

Dorothy: It means to be submissive to what God wants. I’ve come to that place in my life right now where submission means that I need to give up all the things that I really would like to do, to do the things that I do not really feel very efficient at or wanting to do.

I have a husband that’s at home health. The nurse told us this last time they don’t think he will get better but that he probably has Alzheimer’s. I have another son that’s not well with diabetes, and he’s sort of getting to the end stages. He was supposed to have three-way bypass today, and they put that off until next week.

For me that means that I’m going to have to stay home most of the time, and I’m not a nurse by trade nor by heart. So to me this is the place where I am that I really need to learn how to say, “Yes, Lord,” and as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, to do it with joy.

Nancy: We said that meekness is saying, “Yes, Lord.” It’s submitting to the Word of God, but it’s also submitting to the providences of God, to the choices of God, to the circumstances that He brings into our lives and at many different seasons. Miss Dorothy is in her eighties and so she’s facing some circumstances in her life that some of you younger moms, your circumstances are totally different.

But meekness is saying, “Yes, Lord. I receive this as from Your hand whatever the season, whatever the circumstance,” and not resisting it, not resenting it, not running from it, but embracing the cross. It's receiving it and realizing that it’s not your husband, it’s not your son, it’s not your circumstance that is your enemy or your issue. They are just instruments in God’s hands.

God has purpose in this. God has purpose in their life. God has purpose in your life. God is shaping; He is molding your life. He is fulfilling His eternal purposes. And so many of those purposes we can never see this side of heaven, this side of eternity.

So meekness is trusting that God knows what He’s doing and bowing the knee, bowing my neck, bowing my heart, bowing my will, saying, “Yes, Lord. I receive this. And if this pleases You, it pleases me.”

And as Miss Dorothy said—here’s where the challenge is for most of us—doing it with joy. I mean a lot of us will do it but there’s this kind of gritting our teeth. I’m just surviving. God wants us doing more than surviving.

Now that doesn’t mean that all the circumstances are joyful or joyous. But it means there’s this supernatural capacity because of the treasure of the life of Christ within us to receive and to respond to those circumstances with joy.

I look back on when I was a teenager or in my twenties or thirties, and things that seemed so difficult at the time to embrace and say "yes, Lord" to . . . I'm realizing that to the extent that I did not bow my knee or my heart or my will to circumstances then, to the extent that I chaffed against those circumstances when I was younger, to that extent I struggle with circumstances today.

I've done some saying yes, I've done some chaffing . . . we've all done some of that. But I would challenge younger women, don't just assume that when you get to be older something will snap and click in and you will all of a sudden be this meek-spirited, godly woman. It doesn't happen that way.  , one choice at a time, one incident at a time.

For those of you younger women, let me just say, make those choices now. You are setting tracks for the rest of your life. You are establishing a pathway, a groove in your heart for how you will respond. We all want to develop that instintive response that says, "Lord, if this pleases You, this pleases me. And I will choose to do it with joy."

Did you know joy is a choice. Now, it’s also fruit of the Spirit, something we can’t manufacture. It’s something God produces in us. But we can choose to say, “I receive the joy of the Lord for this, and in the midst of this I can have His fullnessHis sweetness, His grace, His overcoming power in my life.”

Joetta: Like Miss Dorothy said, it’s sort of an overall progress over the last three years in my life. My mother developed cancer. We had to move her up here from San Antonio. My husband about the same time learned that he was going to be out of a job within a year.

It’s like I immediately went from a nice orderly life where I knew when everything was going to happen, to having no idea what the next day was going to bring forth. My mom passed away in October, so it’s been walking through that.

I have to admit there were times especially towards the end of her life where I was sitting there with her thinking, Lord, I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be doing this. This is not something that I enjoy. This is not fun. It’s hard. It hurts. I don’t want to do this.

And one thing that would keep me going is remembering Elisabeth Elliot, what she said in a similar circumstance. She said,

You just have to come when you’re up against the wall, you come to the point where you say, "Either God is God, or He’s not. Either He’s good, or He’s not.”

It’s like the Lord just really forced me into circumstances where I just had to say, “Okay God, I know You’re God. I know You’re good. I don’t like this at all, but I’ll trust in that.”

We're still in a state of flux. My husband just had a background check for a job that as far as we know he will get, but he may not. My husband was talking to me last night and he said, “Doesn’t it bother you? Doesn’t it worry you?”

And I’m thinking, You know, it really doesn’t. I think after three years, the Lord has finally gotten me into a place where I’m just able to say, “No, because I really can trust the Lord that He’s in control and He knows. Something’s going to happen. I don’t know what but something will, and He will take care of me."

There's a lot of other areas in my life. It's not like I'm perfect by any means, as my family would attest. But in this area it's been a process of learning to say, "Okay, Lord, you are in control. I can't do this anymore. I can make my plans, but You are the One who is in control. I'm just trusting whatever happens. You are God. You are good, and You love me, and it will be the best for me."

Nancy: Joetta used the word control. I do think for most of us as women, that’s a huge issue. We want to be in control. We’re fearful of things being out of control. We’re fearful of someone else being in control or someone else not managing my life well.

We just lose sight of God, and we think about the boss, the job, the husband, the children, the things that we think control our lives. So we say, “No. My life would be in chaos if I let them control it, so I’ve got to control it.”

But sooner or later we learn we really can’t control it. I mean, you can’t control your children. You can’t control your husband. You can’t control the weather. You can’t control your health. We can’t control our circumstances.

So many of us spend a lot of energy and effort just trying to keep the reins, and that puts us in a tizzy. It keeps us frustrated and worked up. And it doesn’t change anything, right?

So joy comes as we relinquish the reins and realize God is in control. He never falls asleep. He never gets off His throne. He is never oblivious to what is going on in my life, not to a single detail. He knows. He is sovereign. He is orchestrating all things according to the counsel of His will and for the display of His grace.

We’re safe. I think meekness is what allows us to just rest in the arms of a God who is there, who is good, who knows what He’s doing.

Joetta says, “They don’t know.” For a long time they didn’t know what was going to happen with her mother or when or how. Now with her husband’s job situation they don’t know.

Your husband may have a great job, but you don’t that that he’ll have it tomorrow. We think we know, but you don’t know. We don’t know.

I was thanking the Lord the other day. I often take health for granted. Something just prompted me to say, "Thank You, Lord, for the good health You've given me. Thank You that my arms and legs work and I can see and hear." The next day, I slipped on a step and fell and thought I had broken a bone in my foot. I didn't, but I heard this crunch. I thought, Yesterday I was thanking the Lord for legs that work, today it crumpled under me. As I was sitting on the floor in pain, wondering what had happened, it's just a reminder that you are not in control. You don't know. Thank the Lord when you have arms and legs that work. Then with meekness, when you fall, realize that He still is in control and He's still good.

Now, that is a silly little illustration, but life is made up of silly little illustrations. If we don't handle the little things with grace, changes are we won't handle the big things with grace.

Jeannie: You said a moment ago that joy is a choice. For me, meekness has been a choice. The story that just jumped out immediately when you asked the question was one that took place several years ago. I have been married twenty-six years and I adore my husband, but there was a point in time when I did not.

At about—I’m going to guess—year five or six, I remember despising the man so immensely that using the word hate was not out of the realm of reality. He and I both reached a point of spiritual divorce, where we lived in the same house but only co-existed. We certainly were not thriving in our relationship.

So for any younger women who might be listening, when you experience that and realize that you’re not in love like that first moment or year . . . I think even the best of marriages go through this.

For us, meekness comes into play when we had to choose to part ways or to bow before the Creator of relationships. We literally did that. We got on our knees not wanting to, not wanting to hold hands much less pray together, certainly not having any feelings that were connected to our actions.

It had nothing to do with obedience because I certainly had no sense of feeling like I need to obey God’s will. I just knew that at the point in time that I was at a make-it or break-it time in my life and in our marriage.

That was the best decision we ever made because Jesus Christ reminded us that as individuals we have no hope of having a lasting and healthy relationship. For us, meekness at that point meant squelching our own pride, saying, “I’m sure it’s your fault, but I will for a moment allow God to take these circumstances and mend them.”

He did, and He has, and He continues to do that. But for my husband and I, that was a point of coming to the realization that our relationship is made up of three—He and I and our Lord.

Nancy: Jeannie, that was obviously a huge turning point and point of surrender and point of meekness. Did things change immediately? What was it like the next day?

Jeannie: It actually happened to be Valentine’s weekend. We had decided to go away together to make an effort on our own, with our own power. So we continued with those plans. It was a little strained. Nothing miraculous changed in my feelings.

However, my husband and I did begin to make conscious, concentrated effort into being nicer. That’s the day, the weekend that we chose to never speak harshly about one another. Never ever were we to ever allow ourselves to say, “Ugh. Let me tell you what he did.” We’ve stuck to that now twenty-one years, and God has blessed us for that.

Nothing miraculous occurred in our feelings, but definitely something in our mindset changed.

Nancy: At what point did the feelings begin to change?

Jeannie: Not long afterwards. I don’t remember exactly. But I will tell you that within the next six months (at the end of about six months) looking back, he and I could do nothing but feel a need to get back down on our knees. We were so amazed at the change in who we were as individuals as well as a couple.

Nancy: Powerful testimony. Thank you Jeannie, and thank you Lord. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." (Matt. 5:5)

You think you’re giving up everything. You think you’re losing. You think you’re surrendering the battle and that suggests that the other person is winning. And who wants to be a loser?Surrender suggests losing, unless it’s in God’s economy.

The way up is down. The way to the resurrection is through the cross. You give up your life; you will gain it. You lay down your rights; God will bless you.

That’s not always in ways that we would write the script. But what a powerful illustration of God’s principles. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn their sin. Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth (see Matt. 5:3–5).

I just wonder if there’s not a woman here today who . . . You all sit here. You look so nice. You’ve got your name tags on. But I can’t tell what’s going on in your home. I don’t know what’s going on in your marriage.

And to others listening who aren’t in this room today but listening now by means of radio. You may be at the point today where Jeannie was. You despise that man you’re living with. All you can think of are the ways he’s hurt you, of the ways that you’re not compatible.

It may be that now is the time that God is speaking to you and saying, “You need to surrender your rights. You need to bow the knee. Don’t wait until you feel like it. Don’t wait until he changes.”

You say, “Well, he’s not willing to come and hold my hand and pray yet.” Then you take the Lord’s hand, and you get with Him and say, “Lord, even if my husband never bends the knee, I’m willing to bend the knee. I’m willing to take the pathway of humility.”

As an act of faith, as an act of obedience saying, “Yes, Lord,” realizing as Jeannie said that the choice is you lose the marriage, have it your way and go your own way, or you say “yes” to the Lord and see what God can do in restoring the years that the locusts have eaten.

Now God miraculously restored Jeannie’s marriage. And I’ll be quick to say that there are some cases where that doesn’t happen. But I’ll tell you what, it never happens when someone in that marriage is not willing to take the pathway of humility and say, “I yield my rights. I will be faithful to you.”

It’s the little things. Meekness says,

  • We’re going to stop talking ugly about each other.
  • We’re going to stop making put-down comments.
  • We’re going to stop saying unkind things to others about each other.

That’s why we keep giving this 30 day challenge to wives to encourage their husbands. What a huge difference that makes in women’s marriages when they take thirty days just to focus on encouraging and lifting up their husbands instead of putting them down.

Let me say, by the way, your marriage may not be in a crisis today. But if you don’t take little steps of meekness daily in your relationship, you’ll head toward a point of crisis. You can head off the crisis by taking those steps of meekness. And again, don’t wait for the other person.

What we’ve said here in marriage can be true in other relationships—with your adult children, with your teenage children, with your parents, with that in-law, with that boss. It’s the pathway of meekness. It’s not a place of weakness. It’s really our greatest strength and power because Christ is strong in and through us in that relationship.

Woman: I needed to hear that. I’m not at that point of crisis, but I was about three years ago. I did emotionally and somewhat physically leave my marriage for a time. But God used that to really redeem my soul. He helped me to realize that I didn’t know Him at all when I had played the part of a Christian for my whole life, really, grew up in a Christian home.

If you are married, there are struggles. There are conflicts. It happens. And I hate conflict. I hate it. For a long time I would run from it. So I’ve had to learn to turn and face it and to stay engaged as one of my friends sitting out there tells me all the time, "Stay engaged and work through it."

Just yesterday as I sat down in the morning when it was quiet at my house still, and I got up early. A friend had encouraged me; she said, “Just go to the passages about husband and wife relationships, and read them and put that in your mind instead of just constantly striving.”

So I went to Ephesians 5. The phrase that really stuck out to me was before he talks to wives. He says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” And then when he says to the wife, “Submit to your own husband as to the Lord,” it just makes it easier when you know that you are submitting to the Lord and not always the person that—what’d you call it?—people that . . .

Nancy: . . . irk you.

Woman: People that irk me. The Lord just really spoke to me through that. It's just good to know that He has me in His hand and He desires that I submit as unto Him.

I can’t say that I love the Lord if I am not loving my husband. That troubles me a lot when I’m struggling to love my husband. I’m like, “I do love the Lord, and I want to love the Lord with all my heart.” So I have to surrender to Him and His plan for me because I know that He uses struggles to sandpaper my character and to make me what He desires me to be.

Maria: Many here know my story and process to submit and have joy in that, to my husband. We're celebrating thirty-nine years this month.

Nancy: Once you get to thirty-nine, is it easy now?

Maria: No, what happens is, you're both always changing and your seasons in life change and your circumstances, so it's a whole new set of challenges. What happened for me was last July the fourth of our four kids moved out of state. Now we have four kids in four states, which means no grandchildren down the street. I mean, it’s just different now. I’d heard from another lady about a program assisting disabled people where you equip them for group home living because a lot of times for disabled people, their parents will, of course, die before them.

I mentioned this to my husband. "Isn’t that a nice way of Medicaid funding? It’s a wonderful program."

And he said, “That sounds like something you’d like to do.”

In my mind I’m thinking, No, it isn’t. I’ve not had to work outside the home. I’m an at-home mom, a homeschool mom. I like my life. I’ve got four kids in four states, and I’m ready to travel.

The second time he mentioned it, Al said, “Have you checked on that program assisting the disabled?”

And I said, “No.”

The third time he mentioned it, the Lord’s going, “Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. He wants you to check on this.”

So I asked, “Do you want me to check on it and get the information?” And he did.

I showed up with no appointment. I had capris on. I did everything you’re not supposed to do to get a job. And I had prayed, “Lord, let this please not be a work of the flesh. I don’t want this to be about money. I want my life to count for eternity. I don’t want a part-time job.”

As I was talking to the lady, she asked what I had done, and I shared with her. She kept leaning forward and then said, "Let me get you an application."

I'm thinking, "I don't want an application. I don't want to do this."

As I stood up and she was re-entering the room, there was a huge framed art on the wall right behind my back that said, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." When she came in, I was just shocked. I said, "I didn't know this was a Christian ministry."

She said, "It's not. We're an independent company. Many of us are Christians."

I said, "If I did this, can I talk about Jesus?"

She said, "If the family doesn't mind." 

It turns out I’m assisting a twenty-four-year-old disabled young lady who has no church background. I’ve met several in her family. Nobody appears to have any knowledge of God. She’s twenty-four but probably about like a five- or six-year-old. She can read.

But I have had the neatest joy just teaching her how to do simple things like wash your face or brush your teeth and wash your hair. There's a list of goals, the goal is to be ready for a group home. There will be no siblings who can help her as she gets older.

I'm thinking, It said personal hygiene. I'll help her wash her hair, but I'm not helping her take a shower. I'm not teaching her this. I'm not an aide. Guess what I'm doing? Twice a week we assist with this.

I have granddaughters that you teach like, "You start here, and you do this." You don’t have to do it, but you instruct.

One day as I was helping her, I noticed her feet were very dirty because she’s kind of large, and she can’t even see her little feet. I heard the Lord say, “Wash her feet.” So I got on my knees at the tub and washed her feet.

And it was just like, “Lord, I’m going to wash Your feet.” I mean, I was just repulsed by it to be honest about humility here. And now it’s the sweetest thing.

That doesn’t sound like eternal value, but I’ve taught her to pray. We started reading The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes. I read a page; she reads a page. I ask her the questions; she asks me the questions.

We finished that, and now we’re on Every Day with God. When one of our sons who’s a Marine firefighter who fought when the fires were in San Diego. Of course, I had the TV on. I was talking to him (he’s in the tower). “And where’s my daughter-in-law?” This young lady is listening.

When she gets really upset, I say, “Well, let’s tell God because He cares. He loves you. He loves me.” So we were praying about something else she was upset about it (I say the words but she will hold my hand).

And she said, “Don’t forget your son.”

I’m right in the middle of praying, and I said, “What?”

She said, “Your son’s in the fires. Don’t forget your son. Tell God your son is in the fires.”

And I said, “Yes. We will tell God and ask Him to help protect.”

So this has evolved. This spring I got ill for an extended time, and she was worried that I would die because so many people have died. "You go to the hospital and you die."

And so the lady that was covering for me called and said, “She’s really scared that you’re really not there.”

So I said, "Call before you come." I was on the couch and had pajamas on.

She came to see me and she said, “I’m praying for you.”

Last thing. I was taking her somewhere and I had a CD on. They were singing, "How Great Is Our God." It repeats a lot. I said, "You can sing with me." I sing joyfully to the Lord, not because I have a pretty voice. She shook her head no. I said, "Are you singing in your heart?" And she nodded vigorously. I said, "Did you know God can hear when you are singing in your heart? And it counts just the same if you are singing out loud."

She said, "Really?"

I said, "We have a great God don't we?"

And she said, "Yes, do."

Dannah: Wow! Maria chose a path of meekness—surrendering to God’s plan—and it blossomed into that lovely relationship. The same thing will happen in countless lives across the globe as all of us put the beauty of meekness into practice.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been teaching us about this important topic these past two weeks in a series called “The Beauty of Meekness.” If you've missed any of it hear it for yourself by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com. Nancy also explores this topic in a booklet called A Deeper Kind of Kindness. Kindness is powerful in the middle of struggles or conflict we don’t always think to reach for this tool. Nancy will help us do just that as we explore God’s Word. We need the Holy Spirit-empowered kindness in a greater measure in each of our lives.

We'd love to get you a copy of this book when you make a gift to support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. It's our way of saying "thank you." You can support the ministry by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1–800–569–5959.  

You may have heard Nancy mention a 30-day challenge in today’s conversation. She was talking about a booklet called 30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband. But that reminds me, this month we have a special 30-day challenge that many of our listeners are participating in: the kindness challenge? How’s it going? If you want to join us, there’s more information in the transcript of today’s program. If you sign up for the challenge, you’ll enjoy daily reminders and live YouTube updates from our team to stay accountable. 

Next week’s topic is close to my heart. At True Girl we get letters every day just reminding us how widespread depression is among teens. David and Shona Murray talk about it Monday. Thought it is a sad topic, I think you'll find that their accents will soften that. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts. 

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you live out the beauty of meekness. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

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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.