Revive Our Hearts Podcast

But Now I See

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: My friend, Joni Eareckson Tada, is such an encouragement to me! She loves to sing hymns.

Joni Eareckson Tada: [sings] "All the way my Savior leads me . . ."

Nancy: She loves Jesus.

Joni: ". . . cheers each winding path I tread."

Nancy: And she loves people.

Young woman: Well, it's a pleasure to meet you. We just wanted to say "hi."

Joni: You, too. Good to see you, good to meet you. Enjoy your semester at school.

Nancy: Joni's quadriplegia never squelches a cheerful or smile. (Joni sings in the background: "Lo, a spring of joy I see . . .") On this day, she was preparing for a video interview with the Revive Our Hearts team.

Joni: Boy, I sure hope I'm not wearing the same thing I was wearing two years ago! 

Chiree: You're not.

Nancy: In God's providence, right at that moment she met a young lady named Brooke. Within the space of about two minutes, Brooke and Joni were both crying.

Joni: Okay, we need tissues now . . .

Nancy: Today we're going to hear the story of how Brooke and Joni met. It's a story two years in the making, and one that will help you appreciate in a fresh and moving way the grace that is ours in Christ. 

Leslie Basham: This is the Revive Our Hearts podcast for Wednesday, December 3, 2014.

We're praying that the Lord will use Revive Our Hearts to help women thrive in Christ. Part of that process is planting seeds of new life, in helping women come to know Jesus.

Today we'll hear a story our team recorded at the recent True Woman '14 conference. It's going to encourage you about the way the Lord can draw women to Himself. 

Brooke Boyer: I grew up with two brothers and two sisters and my parents.

Nancy: This is Brooke Boyer.

Brooke: I was really well loved; it was a Christian family. When I was about eight, I was sexually abused for about a year or so. It wasn't until I was probably about fourteen that I started comprehending what really actually happened, and understanding how wrong that all was. That was when I wondered where God was during that time, and I just became really angry with God.

Margaret Yost: We didn't really realize, as her parents, that it was so deep inside her. My name is Margaret Yost, and I'm from Troy, Ohio. Obviously, you always think, Well, maybe we could have done this differently.

Brooke: I was very angry, and I was very bitter. So I turned to going to parties and drugs and guys—anything I could get my hands on to prove to anybody and everybody just how much I hated God.

Margaret: As a parent, I had a lot of grief knowing that she was running from God and that she was looking for what only God could give her.

Brooke: I think I was just hoping to feel happy, and I didn't really care about anybody else.

Margaret: So praying all the time constantly, her father and I just tried to talk to her whenever the opportunity arose, but we also knew that she really wasn't receptive to what we had to say.

Brooke: Yes, I was very open about where I stood. Pretty much everybody knew that I didn't want anything to do with God.

Nancy: Not surprisingly, Brooke's bitterness and rebellion toward God hardened her into a morose eighteen-year-old. That was in 2012. Something else happened that same year.

Brooke: My mom invited me to True Woman '12 that year.

Bob Lepine (from True Woman '12): Welcome to Indianapolis and True Woman 2012. Are you excited to be here? (Enthusiastic roar of "yes" from thousands of women with applause.) 

Brooke: I didn't want to go, but she had a free ticket, and there was going to be shopping. So, of course I said, "I'll go," but I wasn't looking forward to the conference part at all.

Margaret: I was just hoping God would just reach down and "smack her upside the head," and that would be that. At that time, I knew it was actually safer for her to be with people I trusted rather than have no one at home to be accountable to, so that was kind of part of it, too.

Nancy: Well, Brooke hadn't told her mother the whole truth. There were other motives, too.

Brooke: Yes, there was a guy here who I had been talking to, who was a childhood friend, who said he would meet up with me when I was here. So that was probably my main reason for coming—to meet up with him.

Nancy: The conference started on a Thursday evening. This is Bob Lepine, from Family Life Today, who served as our emcee for the conference . . .

Bob: Some of you had this thought, Maybe I shouldn't go. But you're here, and I want you to know that this is a divine appointment. I want you to know that you have been prayed for, by name, as a part of this event. 

Nancy: And that's a true statement. Brooke had been prayed for even before she and her mom had shown up. We didn't know what was going on in her life, but we know the One who does know everything. Every True Woman Conference is bathed in prayer . . . before, after, and during. 

Bill Elliff: So, we're going to pray as we begin, and I know that . . .

Woman 1: Father, we come to you tonight to drink from the fountain of living water . . .

Janet Parshall: Father, You have drawn Your children, literally, from all over this planet . . .

Woman 2: Jesus, we do need you tonight . . .

Kristyn Getty: Lord, we thank You for this time together. May we take full advantage of . . .

Daniel Henderson: Tonight we are going to enter right into a season of prayer. I often say that prayer is the most often talked about but least practiced discipline of the Christian faith, isn't that right? 

Brooke: Everybody was praying, and it was really weird to me. I grew up with praying with my family, but this seemed kind of ridiculous to me.

Daniel: . . . back to Him, from hearts of love . . . I'm going to ask you to do this: Turn and find three of four other ladies . . . maybe the easiest way is to just turn to the row behind you . . .

Brooke: The person that was speaking wanted us to divide into groups of three or four and pray together about different topics. There were two ladies to my left—I had no idea who they were. It was my turn to pray, so I just told them, "I don't pray. I don't believe in God; it's not my thing."

So they said, "It's okay; that's fine. Can we pray for you?"

I said, "If it made them feel better, sure, go ahead."

Margaret: Brooke wasn't sitting with our group at the time, so I didn't realize until afterward about the two women who had prayed for her.

Brooke: I don't remember anything that they said. I do remember running into them later, and they remembered who I was. They said, "Just so you know, our whole church is praying for you," and that really hit me. I was like, "Wow, that's crazy."

Nancy: As far as Brooke's mom, Margaret, could tell, it seemed like nothing was sinking in. Margaret appreciated being at the conference herself. She was pretty discouraged about Brooke.

Margaret: In fact, I wrote in my journal: "Thursday night and Friday morning were actually awful. She was disengaged from what was going on around her, and distracted, and always on her phone, texting, whatever. I just knew she did not want to be here and wasn't listening to anything being said."

Nancy: Then, during the day on Friday, Brooke rendezvoused with her friend.

Brooke: I ended up sneaking out during one of the sessions and seeing him.

Nancy: Two of Brooke's roommates at the hotel had some concerns, so they approached Margaret.

Margaret: And that's how we became aware of her meeting with this boy that we weren't approving of at all.

Brooke: My mom actually ended up finding out about it, and she wasn't too happy about that.

Nancy: During the lunch break on Friday, Brooke's mom called Brooke's dad to get his perspective.

Margaret: I ended up just crying on the phone the whole time. He just said that she needed to know that it wasn't acceptable.

Brooke: She pulled me out of one of the sessions to talk about it.

Margaret: I pulled her aside to one of the tables in the hall, outside of the conference, and we talked for a while, and then both of us just ended up sitting there, crying for a while.

Brooke: I love my parents. I never wanted to hurt them. Even though I was living my life the way I was, I never wanted to see my mom hurt. To see her crying, and for her to tell me that she was really disappointed in what I did, it really hit me that, "I'm really messing up some stuff." So that was probably the first part that got to me.

Nancy: By the time Friday evening's sessions started, Brooke's emotions were all over the place.

Brooke: I was crying because my mom was crying, and I was saying, "I don't want to be here!"

Margaret: I told Brooke she had to sit with me, and so we were just sitting there side by side.

Nancy (introducing Joni at True Woman '12): And we are so thrilled, this year to have with us—this year live and in-person—Joni Eareckson Tada. (applause and cheering)

Brooke: I wasn't really listening, but then Joni Eareckson Tada got on stage, and she sang "Amazing Grace."

Joni (singing at True Woman '12): "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound . . ."

Brooke: That just kind of hit me. Somebody that went through so much, that had so much happen to her . . . and yet, she still believed that God loved her. 

Nancy: "Amazing Grace" is a hymn written by former slave trader John Newton, who understood the grace of God. Here's Joni Eareckson Tada.

Joni: I think the reason "Amazing Grace" has been such a favorite for so many of us, myself included, is that one line, "Grace that saved a wretch like me." Nobody else looking at me would think I was a wretch, but I know my heart. I know the sin of which I'm capable.

I know that I wake up in the morning sometimes with wretched feelings—about myself, about my world, about life. And God's grace can be so tender, so faithful, so overwhelming as to alter my perspective on myself, my world, my God. It's amazing that He saved a wretch like me.

Brooke: That just really hit me, and I just said, "God, I can't do this anymore. I'm so empty, and I have such a heavy weight on me. I just need You . . . come save me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see."

Joni sings: "I once was lost, but now am found . . ."

Brooke: I wanted to see.

Joni sings: "Was so blind, but now I see."

Brooke: It was amazing!

Margaret: I had my True Woman notebook on my lap. I was taking some notes. Brooke took my notebook out of my lap and put it on hers. She took my pen and wrote on the corner of it and gave it back to me.

I looked down and read it. It said, "I once was blind, but now I see. I love you, Mom." So I just took her right out and we went to the prayer room and prayed together, and she submitted to Christ. I'll never forget it! 

Joni: When I met Brooke a few moments ago, she shared her story briefly with me and talked about having been abused—the struggles, the questions . . . mainly the question, "Why would God allow me to have to go through something like that?"

As soon as she said that, tears welled in my eyes, because even after forty-seven years, the pain of those questions—it's so real; it's so current. You can identify with people who question God as to "why" so much pain in their lives? But yet, through the tears, we both smiled at one another, because we could definitely testify of God's faithfulness, His overwhelming grace, His support, His sustaining strength every single day. And the joy of knowing Him far outweighs the urgency of questions.

I could see that in her eyes . . . the questions, now, are really not the point. The point is she's found the Answer, and Jesus is enough. He's the Answer.

Brooke: For the first time in forever, I just felt like I could breathe. I just felt like this weight was lifted off my chest, and I could finally breathe!

Margaret: We noticed a change in Brooke immediately when we got home. She was just peaceful . . . with joy, actually. Not happy, but joy-filled.

Brooke: I was scared because I thought I was going to go home and just go back to my normal life, to the way things were before. It was actually really amazing. The people I had partied with, I didn't even have a desire anymore to go party. I didn't have a desire for any of the things in my old life. I was so in love with God.

Joni: Sometimes, when I'm speaking from a platform to a large audience, I try and think of the individuals in the audience—their ages, their marital status, what struggles they maybe have brought to the conference, what sins they're struggling with. But when you hear the individual story, when it gets right down to the detail of one young person sitting in an audience, rebelling against God, yet unable to resist the Holy Spirit . . .

It just amazes me that God could possibly use my story, what I've learned from His Word, what His Spirit has taught me, to reach deep into the heart of someone else like Brooke and transform her life—just completely transform it!

And in Brooke's situation, it wasn't even a testimony of Scripture, necessarily. It was the beautiful, timeless words of "Amazing Grace." I'm just so grateful to God that He uses every kind of way, every kind of avenue, every song, every Scripture, every word offered, every prayer lifted up, every smile, every sentence of encouragement. He uses anything, everything, to transform the heart of someone like Brooke. He's an amazing God!

Margaret: His grace is so magnificent, we can't even comprehend it! That He can just reach down and take someone that was totally running the wrong way and just snatch her up and point her to Christ.

Male singer sings: "My chains are gone, I've been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me! And like a flood His mercy rains unending love, amazing grace!"

Nancy: And since True Woman '12, Brooke has continued to grow in her relationship with Christ, and now she's married to a godly young man. She and her mom recently attended the True Woman '14 Conference. That's where this interview was recorded.

And here's the cool part of this story. Our team had just finished interviewing Brooke, and the next guest on the schedule to be interviewed was, you guessed it, Joni Eareckson Tada! In a way that we never could have planned, God orchestrated the meeting of both these women who've discovered His amazing grace.

Joni: Can I get a photo of us together. Come close and stand next to me, Brooke, and Cara's going to take our photo together.

Nancy: I still remember the day I received an email from Brooke, sharing the story you just heard, and my heart was so touched by that poignant reminder that God is a redeeming God Who is making all things new, and He was making people new by His amazing grace. I'm so thankful for the way that He's using the various outreaches and resources of Revive Our Hearts to reach women like Brooke who desperately need Christ.

None of that would be possible apart from the generous support of friends like you who believe in this message, they believe in this ministry, and they want to be a part of helping women know, and thrive in, Christ. About forty percent of all the donations we need for the entire year typically come during the month of December.

So over these next four weeks, we need to hear from many, many of our listeners who want to be a part of what God is doing through these different outreaches. Some friends of the ministry, who have seen God at work through Revive Our Hearts, have said, "We want to be a part of that." And so they've agreed to match every gift that is given to Revive Our Hearts during the month of December, up to $650,000.00.

That means that your gift over these weeks will go twice as far as you help us to meet that challenge. So, would you ask the Lord how He would want you to get involved in meeting—and then exceeding—this matching challenge? And when you send a gift of any amount this week, as our way of saying "thank you," we'd like to send you a copy of my new piano CD just in time for the Christmas season. It's called Come Adore.

Just ask for my Christmas piano CD when you call with your gift. The number to call is 1-800-569-5959, or you can visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com. Thank you so much for your part in helping us to continue reaching women, like Brooke, with the truth that sets women free.

Leslie: Today we heard how the Lord drew Brooke as Joni took the platform at the True Woman '12 conference. In the final part of today's program, we're going to hear some of the message Joni delivered that night on the topic of forgiveness. Here's Joni.

Joni: We are very much like the person the Psalmist is talking about in Psalm 36:2: "For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much, to detect or hate his own sin." In our blind conceit we cannot see how wicked we really are. Everyone else's transgressions seem so far greater than ours . . .

"Well, my marriage would be so much better if only my husband would . . . "

"Oh, our church would be so much better if only my pastor could learn that . . ."

"My family would be better if only my kids would do . . . "

"Our neighborhood would be better if only that lady across the street would stop . . ."

"My office would be a much better work environment if only the guy down the hall would . . ."

I'm so glad that as a child I was raised in the Reformed Episcopal Church, because every Sunday we used the Book of Common Prayer, and oh how well I remember those words, even as a ten-year-old: "Almighty and Most Merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from Thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against Thy holy laws."

"We have done those things we ought not to have done, and we have not done those things which we ought to have done, and there is no help in us. Have mercy on us miserable offenders!"

So, let God—the only Wise Judge—be the one to hand out the consequences for the harm done against you. Quit holding on to the bitterness that is hindering revival in your relationship with Christ—that is hindering revival in your own heart. True revival just isn't going to come apart from your willingness to receive God's mercy and . . . here's the important part . . . to extend it to others.

Can we say, "Yes, God hates injustice, and yes, the awful person who mistreated me deserves to be brought to justice, deserves to be rebuked and punished . . . but whether or not that happens, I will not be bitter; I will not retaliate. I will return good for evil; I will bless rather than curse. I will not badmouth, I will not gossip . . . I will forgive."

When you taste the mercies of God, when you know that you are the one who deserves to be nailed to the tree, it changes everything, and you are able to do the impossible.

"Father, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." In other words, "Father, feel free to deal with me the same way you see me dealing with others. Feel free to treat me as You see me treating others. Be merciful to me; be full of grace, have compassion, because I am merciful, I am full of grace, I have compassion, and I pity those who have offended me."

Friend, that's our calling. Right there is our calling! First Peter 2:19–25 . . . listen to what it says: "For God is pleased with you when you patiently endure unfair treatment; but if you suffer for doing right and are patient, God is pleased with you." This suffering is all part of what God has called you to in Christ, who suffered for you, for he is your example. Follow in his steps.

He never sinned, and he never deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted. When he suffered he did not threaten to get even. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried away our sins in his own body on the cross, so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.

You have been healed by His wounds. Once you were wandering like lost sheep, but now you have turned to your shepherd, the guardian of your souls.

Leslie: That's Joni Eareckson Tada, from True Woman '12. We'll be hearing from Joni again tomorrow. Forty years ago when she was first dealing with quadriplegia, she fervently asked the Lord to heal her. Tomorrow she'll talk about the pain—and the blessing—of prayer that's not answered the way we'd like. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts, with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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