Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Dannah Gresh: If your life seems dry and unfruitful, Gretchen Saffles says, “Look to Jesus!”

Gretchen Saffles: We can come to Him in our brokenness and receive the wholeness that He offers us through the cross. We can drink deeply from the well that always satisfies and never runs dry . . . and we can do this every single day!

Dannah: This is the Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of The Quiet Place, for April 5, 2021. I’m Dannah Gresh. 

Well, hello Nancy, how are you today?

Nancy: I’m doing fine. How are you?

Dannah: I’m doing fine. Isn’t that the word we always say; we’re supposed to say,
“I’m fine.” Aren’t we supposed to say that?

Nancy: Yes, and we’re “all fine.” Are we really?

Dannah: Everybody’s fine, but you know what? I don’t think everybody is fine. I’m reading a lot of statistics that aren’t proving that we’re fine. It seems like some people aren’t okay, and I’m wondering, Is it okay to not be okay?

Nancy: That’s a question that our guest today has been asking and has challenged us to think about. Gretchen Saffles, I’m so glad you’re able to join us today on Revive Our Hearts.

Gretchen: Thank you for having me. I’ve been looking forward to this!

Nancy: I feel like I’ve known you for a long time, because I’ve been following you, and you’ve been following Revive Our Hearts for years. I see you on social media, but this is actually the first time we’re getting to speak with each other. It’s the first time our listeners are getting to hear from you. I think you’ve been on our Grounded program once before. 

Gretchen: Yes.

Nancy: So some met you there. I’m so thrilled for you to get to meet our Revive Our Hearts listeners, and vice versa, because our hearts beat alike. You have the DNA and the heart of Revive Our Hearts. We love what you’re doing at your ministry, which is an online women’s ministry called Well-Watered Women (the three Ws). 

For our listeners to know, you’re a wife, you’re a mom—you’ve got a couple little guys. You’re recording today at your house and your husband is there helping with the little ones, so thank you to him from the Revive Our Hearts listeners. We’re really grateful for that! 

And, Gretchen, I particularly wanted to have this conversation with you now because your first book has just released. Congratulations! Does that feel like having a baby?

Gretchen: It does! Except it takes a lot longer to birth a “book baby” than it does a real baby! 

Nancy: That one has been gestating for a long time. I’m glad you did it that way instead of just popping it out, because it’s rich. It’s encouraging, and it’s something that has been lived out in your life. 

Gretchen: Yes.

Nancy: The book is called The Well-Watered Woman. We’re going to talk about what that means. What is a well-watered woman? When Dannah and I saw this book coming out, we said, “We want to have Gretchen on to talk about her life experience,” because the things you’re talking about are things that we all grapple with at different seasons of life. 

Dannah’s a grandma; my grandkids are grown. You’ve got little ones. And then we have those who have never married and those who are widows. There are just different seasons of life connecting to hear what we have to say today.

What we’re going to talk about this week is something that all of us can relate to and we need help with. I’m excited to think about how God is going to speak to His people through this conversation today.

Dannah: Gretchen, when I read the title The Well-Watered Woman: Rooted in Truth, Growing in Grace, Flourishing in Faith, I thought, I want to be that woman! I assume that you want to be that woman. Are you that woman, and have you always been that woman, Gretchen?

Gretchen: I have not always been a well-watered woman. As a matter of fact, I have been a dried up woman more times than I can count. First, before Christ, I was completely dried up, because I was dead in my trespasses and sins, separated from God.

But then, when I became a believer and started following Jesus, I thought to myself that I was going to be perfect all of a sudden and not have any struggles or walk through any trials. I learned very quickly that that is not the truth.

I still found myself trying to drink from empty wells in this world, living the dried up life by pursuing things that I thought might bring me contentment and satisfaction. I looked for my identity in my body, in the clothes that I wore, and what I looked like.

I looked for satisfaction in my achievements and what other people thought of me, in people pleasing, and in trying to be this perfect good girl, that ultimately I couldn’t be. I was living the dried up life. 

Instead of pursuing Christ in the Word, I was pursuing the things of this world, and I was coming up empty-handed. Any time we try to drink from an empty well, we quickly learn that it won’t satisfy the thirst, what we really long for. I wanted to know, “What does it really mean to live the well-watered life?”

Dannah: Something I really love about you, Gretchen, is you’re refreshingly honest and raw and real. You’re rooted in truth, but you also acknowledge the reality. I mean, I understand. Nancy and I are on social media, too. It’s easy for people to look at us and say, “They have everything together; everything is going just fine in their lives.”

But there are moments when we’re really not okay, and sometimes as Christians we struggle with whether that’s okay, to not always be okay. You give us permission to admit that sometimes we need to confess that we need some help. Take us back to a time when you first realized it’s okay to cry out for help.

Gretchen: I grew up in the church. I thought for most of my life, “I have to have it all together. I need to be the ‘good girl,’ I need to be a perfect Christian.” I had two young kids, and I didn’t realize how demanding motherhood would be.

On top of just the daily demands of caring for my family and for my boys, I also was running a ministry. And to be honest, I was doing more in that season than I was capable of. I was living past my limits.

I learned in that season that God created us with limits, and they ultimately point us to Him. We are limited, but He is limitless. And so, in my limited state where I had come to the end of myself, I had come to that moment of burnout, of saying, “I can’t do this anymore in my own strength!”

I found myself sitting in a counselor’s office. Just the fact that I had walked into her counseling office was a very, very big deal, because I had thought, A Christian shouldn’t need help. A Christian should be able to just read more Scripture and pray more. Then I will be totally fine, and I can just keep moving on! But instead, I knew deep down, I need help. I cannot do this in my own strength.

Dannah: What were some of the things happening in your life that made you say, “I need to get into that counseling office.” Like, were you crying? Were you in the fetal position? Were your relationships troubled? What took you there? 

Gretchen: Absolutely! I was having anxiety and panic attacks, and that was something that blindsided me, to be completely honest. The more ministry opportunities came, the more our family grew, the more anxious I became.

There was one side of the spiritual warfare. Satan does not want us flourishing; he doesn’t want us ministering or sharing the gospel. But then there was the other side, where I was relying on myself.

I had neglected to go to the well of Living Water. I felt I needed to live up to people’s expectations, and it was causing me to drown—in fears and “what-ifs” and feeling like I was a failure. Ultimately, I was looking to myself for salvation, looking to myself to have it altogether, and not looking to God.

Dannah: So you were overwhelmed.

Gretchen: Yes! I was overwhelmed, over stimulated. I was over it completely. I know a lot of other people could probably raise both hands here and say, “Me, too!” I sat in this counselor’s office, who is also a Christian. She had several plants. I looked at them, and they’re just sitting in their pots, and they’re growing and flourishing right where they are.

Nancy: You mean like live plants?

Gretchen: Live plants, not the fake kind. 

Dannah: Yes, the kind you water, Nancy!

Nancy: I don’t have any of those! (laughter)

Gretchen: They’re the kind you have to actually do stuff to help keep them alive. Those are the good kind! I saw them and I thought, This is not my life right now. I am dried up; I am a withered plant. Probably like the plants that were in my house at the time, they reflected what was happening in my heart.

They, too, were dying, because I was so busy. I didn’t have time to water my plants, much less water my soul in the Word. As I sat there I was crying, and it was like a confession in the moment. I had been so afraid to say this, but I just said, “I am not okay.”

She looked at me, and in the wisdom of God’s grace she said, “You know, Gretchen, it’s okay for a Christian not to be okay.” 

I looked at her and said, “Is it? Because I don’t think that. I feel like I have to be okay, perfect all the time.” 

That was leading me to a life that was dried up, instead of a life that is well-watered and flourishing in the Word.

God used that moment, He used her words, to minister to my soul and to show me that it’s okay not to be okay. Because in Christ, that’s where I have my hope. It’s not in me. It’s not in my ability. It’s not in my holding things together, because we all know that’s impossible. And when we try to, we again get to that moment where we feel like we’re falling apart once more.

Any time we try to drink from an empty well, we quickly learn that it won’t satisfy the thirst, what we really long for. I wanted to know, “What does it really mean to live the well-watered life?” I came across a verse in Isaiah 58:11 that is surrounded by God telling the Israelites what it means to truly worship Him, to live a life that honors Him.

It’s not a life that on the outside looks good but on the inside is dried up and far away from Him. Instead, it’s a life that is flourishing and fruitful, a life that serves other people. So in Isaiah 58:11, I remember reading this verse and saying to the Lord, “This is the life I long to live!”

It says: 

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. (NIV).

I remember in that dried up moment, when I was reading this verse, writing it down and just saying to God, “I don’t want to live a dried up life! I want to live a life that is attached to the Vine, to Jesus—a life that is well-watered because I daily come to the well of Living Water, who is Jesus, in the Word of God. I want to be filled up so I can overflow and live that life that He died so that we could then live.” 

And so, in Christ I am the well-watered woman. That is who He has made me to be. But I am also becoming the well-watered woman as I come to God’s Word each and every day, seeking Him, dying to myself, and being made more into the image of Christ.

Dannah: I love your honesty! I think that it’s something that I need today. I wonder if we could dig down for just a quick minute or two on, “What lie are we believing when we think it’s not okay to not be okay?”

Gretchen: We’re believing the lie that we have to be perfect to come to God. We think that we have to live up to a certain standard, which the gospel tells us we never could live up to that standard. It’s only through Christ who came. He lived the perfect, spotless life. He fulfilled all of the law. It is His blood and His life, death, and resurrection that covers us. 

It’s not the things that we do; it’s all that Christ has done. We start to believe the lie that we’re the ones who have to hold the world together, we’re the ones who have to be perfect and somehow earn God’s love or His favor or His approval, when really we only have that in Christ.

Dannah: Maybe we’re living out the lie that we don’t really need a Savior.

Gretchen: Yes!

Nancy: You know, it’s interesting that the whole world of social media—especially for us as women—is one that gives us these picture perfect, highly processed and curated and filtered images of all of our friends and the people who are called friends. But we don’t even know who they are. 

It creates this illusion that we think everybody else is living this picture perfect life, and therefore if we’re not, by comparison, there’s something really off with us. When, in fact, probably most of the other people posting those amazing curated filtered pictures are looking at our posts and saying, “Wow! If only I could have what she has or be more like her!” So we have this kind of residual, lingering, smoldering angst and sadness and despair. 

I’m seeing this so much in women in their twenties and thirties. Not that it’s not true of some older women as well, but it seems like an epidemic of it—a pandemic, if you will—of younger women feeling like, “I just cannot measure up!” And yet, the pictures are smiling.

Are we telling each other lies, are we encouraging each other to believe things that are not true, that are making us all feel more wilted and droopy?

Gretchen: Yes, social media is only a snapshot of somebody’s life. It’s easy for us to scroll and to look at our friends and, like you said, Nancy, to think people’s lives who we don’t even know anything about are perfect.

Their life and their pictures and the things that they say, those become the standard of what we’re trying to make our lives like. And the bar just keeps getting raised. The more you look, the more you compare, the more you see these small little snapshots.

A lot of times when I post a picture of my kids, I’ve had to take probably twenty to get a picture of both of them even hugging each other and both smiling at the same time. Every mom knows that, where you say to your child, “Just smile for one picture!” But nobody sees that; they don’t see the background.

Sometimes I even chuckle at myself in those moments. I’m going, “Nobody’s even going to see the moment of this happening!” So we can live our lives thinking that we need to live out other people’s moments, when God has placed us in a specific moment in time to be faithful right there.

But we start to believe this lie that everybody else is okay; they’re not struggling, they’re not having hard things happen at work or in their home. But really, they are. They’re just not posting about it. And that’s the importance of having vulnerable, safe friendships and relationships with other women who also love Jesus, so they can come alongside us in those moments when we’re not okay.

They can come alongside us and speak truth into our lives.

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: As you’re talking, Gretchen, I’m thinking about a passage in the New Testament where Jesus had an encounter with a woman—it was a life-changing encounter for that woman—who was not okay. As you read this story, you think maybe until that moment, she hadn’t been okay to say that she wasn’t okay until Jesus came and asked her some penetrating questions like, “Go bring your husband.”

She’s going, “Um . . . I don’t have a husband.” 

And He said, “You’re right, you’ve had five husbands, and now you’re living with a man who is not even your husband.” 

All of a sudden there’s like this lightning bolt. You just see everything in sharp relief that you were trying to keep under cover of darkness. She’s exposed! 

And Jesus starts talking to her about water. Let’s just talk for a few minutes about that passage and that woman, and how what Jesus said to her is what we need to hear to become well-watered women.

Gretchen: So Jesus, He meets this woman at the well in John chapter 4. What’s interesting is that she comes in the middle of the day, not during the time when all the other women would come together. She came alone, because she was carrying with her not only a water jar, but a whole lot of guilt and shame!

She comes to this well, and what I love here is that in the passage it says that, “Jesus had to pass through Samaria.” Now, normally, the Jews would have done anything possible to avoid going through Samaria. But not our Savior! He always would break these cultural standards. He said, “No. I have to go to Samaria.”

And since He was God in the flesh, the Bible says He was wearied from His travels, and He sits down at this well. This was not by chance; this was a God-appointed moment. The woman comes with her water jar. She came that day to provide for her physical thirst, and yet Jesus came to provide for her spiritual thirst.

She came in her brokenness. Jesus asks her for some water to drink, and while she’s fetching this water, He uses the moment of her physical thirst to show her that what she’s really thirsty for is not just a sip of water from the well that day . . . but it is a drink from the living water of His Word that will well up to eternal life.

That day Christ met her in her brokenness right there, in her sin and her shame. He knew it all, even though she might have thought, Oh, I can hide this from Him

Just like Nancy said, He said, “Go, bring your husband to me,” because He already knew. And yet He loved her! He changed her life that day! She did drink from the well of Living Water.

And what’s so cool about this is, John 4:28 says she left her water jar. She leaves her water jar! The whole reason she came was to get water. She leaves the jar because she has found the Living Water, and she goes and tells other people about this Water that she has drunk from.

Dannah: You know, I can’t help but think of you sitting in that counseling room. It was kind of the same encounter as this woman at the well. Her counselor was The Counselor. I’m wondering, do you think she was okay after that?

Gretchen: Yes! She was more than okay in Christ. The thing is, Christ came in the flesh to live the life that we could not live, and He died the death that we deserved to die—including that woman, including you and me—so that we could have new, eternal life in Him. That is the hope that we have in Christ!

We can come to Him in our brokenness and receive the wholeness that He offers us through the cross. We can drink deeply from the well that always satisfies and never runs dry. And we can do this every single day!

Dannah: We don’t have to be okay; we can be more than okay. There’s something better! I think maybe “okay” is overrated. We need Jesus; we need the Living Water.

Nancy: Gretchen, I’m so grateful that you’ve written this book that releases just this week. But it’s one that has been being written in your heart for a lot of years. It reminds us that, like the woman at the well, we’re all thirsty.

We’ve maybe been searching to have our thirst satisfied in places that have left us dry and dissatisfied, but as that woman encountered Christ, so you’re calling us to encounter Christ, who can make us well-watered women rooted in truth, growing in grace, and flourishing in faith.

Dannah: This week we’d like to send you Gretchen’s book as our way of saying thank you for your donation in support of Revive Our Hearts. Once again, the title is The Well-Watered Woman. Also, Gretchen, there’s a journal that serves as a companion to your book. Could you tell us about that?

Gretchen: Yes, The Well-Watered Life Devotional Journal is meant to help womenbe able to apply the spiritual disciplines to their everyday life. In the journal we give you a whole lot of different spaces where you can meditate on Scripture, memorize it, preach truth to your heart, be able to identify root rot in the garden of your soul and replace it with gospel roots that will then produce gospel fruit.

This journal is something that you can use alongside The Well-Watered Woman book, and it’s something that you can use over the course of a long time, even with a friend, as you’re seeking to grow in “the grace and the knowledge” of our Lord Jesus Christ each day. (see 2 Peter 3:18)

Dannah: There’s more information about how you can order The Well-Watered Life Journal at our website, ReviveOurHearts.com. And that’s also where you can make a donation of any amount and ask for Gretchen’s book The Well-Watered Woman, or you can always call us at 1–800–569–5959. 

And if today you’re starting to recognize the wilted woman in your heart more than the well watered woman in your soul, we want to invite you back to join us tomorrow.

Gretchen: I used to have a mug that my husband and I made. Over the years it cracked, and yet I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it. I would keep this and sometimes I would forget this is a cracked mug. I’d pull it out and put something in it, and it would start to leak!

This is something that we see happen over and over with the Israelites in the Old Testament—these broken cisterns that they kept running to. They kept thinking, This idol is going to satisfy me. If I do this, if I get this, it will satisfy me.

When really, they’re left with nothing. They’re left empty-handed, just like I was with my broken mug that would not give me a drink of water. Instead, God was calling them, “Come to Me! I am the fountain of living water!” 

Dannah: We’ll talk about how your wilted soul—or parts of it—often suffer a thirst so strong that it can lead you to the wrong well. Let us lead you to the right one . . . tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Inspiring you to be more than okay because of Jesus. Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is 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.

About the Guest

Gretchen Saffles

Gretchen Saffles

Gretchen Saffles is the founder of the global online women's ministry Well-Watered Women, the creator of the Give Me Jesus quiet time journal, and a passionate writer who longs to see women grasp the fullness of the gospel in everyday life.  As she shares from her life experiences, Gretchen writes with authenticity and boldness, encouraging women to seek Christ right where they are and live in his abundance. Gretchen lives in Atlanta with her husband and their two sons and loves going on adventures with her family, traveling to new places, daydreaming of wildflower fields, cooking tasty meals, baking chocolate chip cookies, painting, reading good books, and teaching women to know and love Jesus.