Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Practical Insights for Today

Leslie Basham: Do you find yourself wishing life were different? Nancy Leigh DeMoss says unfulfilled longing is a part of everyone’s life.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: For every single woman I’ve known who has an unfulfilled longing for marriage, I’ve known at least that many married women (probably more) who have an unfulfilled longing—I’m not going to say for singleness, but I’m going to say for a more intimate marriage.

Leslie: You’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, June 4.

Singleness. Teenagers. Stay-at-home dads. Scripture memory. What do all these have in common? Well, a couple of things. These are all topics that Nancy covered during a Q&A session not long ago at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. And they’re all topics that must be brought under the Lordship of Christ.

In every issue of life, the goal is to bring God glory. As we listen to practical answers to various questions, we all have something to learn about living all of life for God’s glory. Let’s listen.

Angela: Good afternoon, Nancy, I’m Angela. I just wanted to ask about raising teenagers. I have two teenagers and one daughter that’s twenty. I used to say, “I have three teenagers; pray for me.” But now I can’t say that because one is twenty. What would you do if you had kids like I have?

Nancy: Well, let me say first that I have no children of my own, so I have no expertise on this subject. My parents have a little expertise on the subject. My parents decided when they got married that for the first five years they wouldn’t have any children. Within their first five years of marriage they had six children by the time my mother was twenty-four—and that means that they had six teenagers at once.

So, yes, listen to those sighs. My father’s in heaven. My mother is very much alive and survived all that. My mother would be probably the one you’d really want to ask. But let me say this. I do have a heart today for not only moms of teenagers, but I’m hearing a lot from women who have young adult children who are not teenagers any longer but in their twenties, many of whom are being pulled away from the Lord at a time when you can’t control them anymore.

They’re not living in your home. They’re not under your authority. If I could just give a word of encouragement, and this will not be any how-to’s because I don’t have those. But number one: Your rock is the Lord. “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 27:1).

When you’re walking in His light with Him as your salvation, you can look to Him for wisdom. The Lord gives wisdom. From His mouth comes understanding. I don’t know how anybody can parent in any generation at any age much less today without a prayer life. That’s why I think a lot of moms are praying women because they know they don’t have any other means of God intervening in their children’s lives.

There may be things you can say to your children that they’re not listening to or you don’t think they’re listening to or you’re wondering if they’re hearing. But if you tell it to the Lord and ask the Lord to deal in their lives, it’s not so easy for them to squirm out from under His conviction.

So I think to make sure. I’m speaking, I know, to many who really are praying moms. Don’t give up praying, and don’t give up when you don’t see their hearts being won right away.

Augustine is known as one of the greatest church fathers in the history of the church, one of the greatest theologians in the history of the church. But for many years he was a rebel, running from God. You may remember the story of his mother, who’s name was Monica, who prayed and prayed and prayed. He could escape Monica, but he couldn’t escape Monica’s prayers. He couldn’t escape God who was working in response to Monica’s prayers.

Remember, you can’t control your children. You can give them direction, but you cannot control them. So even when you think they’re going off and they may be going off in a direction that is not according to God’s will . . . Obviously, at three you’re going to handle them differently than at thirteen, which is different than twenty-three, but there comes a point when you have to release those children to God.

They’re always His, but you have to release them and say, “God, you take over.” Sometimes, moms, and I want to say this particularly about young adult children, be careful about rescuing your children from the cross. As a mom, you don’t want to see your children get hurt. You want to protect them. Sometimes in trying to protect them, especially as they get older and out of the home or they should be out of the home, sometimes instead of protecting them, you will be enabling them to not grow up, to not seek the Lord.

You see them heading in a direction that you know is going to be cataclysmic. Now I’m not saying don’t speak into their lives, but ask God when and how much and for how long, and at a point, you take your hands off, you lift your hands up, and you say, “Lord, whatever it takes in that child’s life for them to really hear Your voice and get Your heart, I release them, and I’m not going to try and rescue them.”

Now obviously, as they’re teenagers, they’re still in your home and you want to make sure that you are creating an environment that is conducive to them getting hungry for the things of God.

So I can’t give you a lot of wisdom about teenagers, but I can tell you this, teenagers are more tuned in to how you live than to what you say. Not what you’re telling them, though you need to be telling them truth, but they’re more seeing if this thing is lived out in mom’s life. Does she really believe this? Does she practice this? Does she talk differently to people at church than the shrew she is in our home?

You say, “I've got to be perfect?” No, you don’t have to be perfect, but I’ll tell you what, when you blow it, you've got to be humble. You've got to humble yourself and say, “I was wrong. Would you please forgive me?” When’s the last time you said those words to your children? Think about it. If it’s been a long time, is it because you haven’t sinned in a long time or is it because you’re too proud to humble yourself?

You say, “Well, they need to humble themselves.” You need to model humility. That will create a climate . . . When your children see you hunger for God, that’s what created an appetite for God in my own life—seeing my parents hungry for God. They made mistakes. They would be the first to say that. They were honest about those mistakes. Seeing their walk, seeing their heart for God is what cultivated in my heart a heart for God.

One other little tip here, a suggestion for what it’s worth. Don’t try and do it alone. We are part of a community of faith. In many cases you also have a husband who is sharing that with you. But I mean even outside of your own home, Moms in Touch, something like that, a time where moms can come and pray together is a great thing.

If you don’t have a Moms in Touch [now called Moms in Prayer] group in your area, just find another mom who’s got kids maybe in a similar season of life as your kids and join together in praying specifically by name for your children. Have somebody else that maybe even at times of real stress in the relationship or in the child’s life will maybe even fast and pray with you. So you’re joining together.

I’m single. I don’t have any children of my own biologically, but I feel a responsibility for your children because we’re in this together. So we need to be praying for these prodigals, praying for the mothers of the prodigals, praying for the ones who aren’t prodigals, that God will capture their hearts and not that they will just be good kids who conform. That’s not what you want. That can fuel your pride as a mom. I’ve got good kids. I home school. I do this, and I do that. Listen, if you’re looking for kids to make you look good, God may just deal with you.

But you want kids who love Christ, who treasure Him. When they see that in you and when you’re praying toward that end, you can’t make it happen in them, but you've got a lot better chance that God may in His mercy and sovereignty bring them along that way.

Woman: I’m curious to hear your opinion on that relationship that’s going on of dad being a stay-at-home dad and mom being the breadwinner because someone very close to me is in that position. I know she’s being really run down, but they’re not changing anything. It’s hard at times talking with her and hearing both sides and trying to be supportive of them as a couple because they’re married and yet not be supportive of what I believe to be a distortion of the marriage role. I’m curious just to hear original thoughts on that.

Nancy: Okay, you’re really asking two questions, but I’ll try and just address those. One is what do I believe about that phenomenon, which is becoming increasingly common, of breadwinner moms and stay-at-home dads. The highest percentage now than it ever has been in our history.

The other question is if you know somebody in that situation, but they don’t agree with you, how do you respond to that? Again, I don’t know and I’m not going to ask, but it could be your parents or a friend or someone else.

In answer to the second question, I think we have to be gentle with each other and patient and easily entreatable. There may be some areas of truth in this or other areas where God gives you insight that others around you don’t have. We need to be meek in spirit, realizing we don’t have all the answers. We’re not the final answer.

If you really see something going on in someone’s life that you think isn’t lining up with Scripture, then learn to ask questions, to listen, to be humble in your approach of this subject. Depending on what the issue is, obviously if you see a couple that is not married, living together outside of marriage and they’re close friends, you’re going to treat it a little differently where it’s a clear matter of right and wrong in Scripture.

But we’re talking about something here that the Scripture does not expressly address. But I will say getting to that issue that there is a principle I think in Scripture. This is not to say that every marriage would fit into this situation, but as a principle, I believe the Lord gives to the husband the responsibility of being the provider and the protector for the family.

Now does that mean that a woman cannot work outside the home? I would not say that. There are just too many different situations and Scripture doesn’t say a woman can’t work outside the home. In fact, there are some verses that suggest that a woman in certain situations was earning an income outside the home. But the husband bears the primary responsibility for the provision and the protection of the family.

That’s why in my view this trend toward stay-at-home dads and breadwinner moms is not a healthy trend. Now again, there may be some circumstances where the husband has not been able to get a job and under his assuming responsibility at his direction, they’re in agreement together that perhaps for a period of time she would go into the marketplace and would be the breadwinner.

So I can’t say in every circumstance that would be wrong, but I think to choose that where there are other options . . . Generally speaking, it’s not going to strengthen the marriage, but is generally going to weaken him as a man and weaken her as a woman.

So again I don’t want to be dogmatic where Scripture is not dogmatic, but just based on that principle in Scripture of a woman making the home environment and the man going out to be the capturer, so to speak . . . Scripture doesn’t draw hard, fast lines on that, but I think you can’t avoid the fact that there is a principle there of him bearing that responsibility.

So we try to the extent that we can to function within that principle. I would say this, in families where they really are strapped—we’re seeing a lot of this today—I sometimes wonder what God might do if we didn’t just jump in and solve some of these problems ourselves but did exercise faith and wait on the Lord. Again, I don’t want to prescribe for every situation because there are too many of them.

But I think sometimes we take matters in our own hands and don’t give God a chance to demonstrate what He could do if would let Him.

Woman: I just want to take this opportunity to thank you. I’ve always wanted to meet you in person and to thank you for the radio program. I still am having issues dealing with me being single, and I know you are a single, young woman. People have told me if you have a desire, God will grant you the desire to be married, and He will send you a husband. To me, I don’t know if I really want to believe that all the way, because God will also give you contentment to be single. So how do you deal with that? Am I getting it right, or how do I deal with being content as a single woman at age forty-three?

Nancy: Okay, thank you first of all for calling me a single, young woman. I appreciate that. Let me just address that because I know we have a lot of single women here. I want to say that first of all it’s not wrong to have the desire for marriage. Marriage is a good thing. It’s a gift from God. It’s God plan for most.

I know a lot of you are college students and may be wondering, does God have someone for me, and that’s a great desire of your heart. We have a number of women in our ministry who are in their thirties, forties and beyond who have a desire for marriage and God has not granted them the desire of their heart.

I think we need to recognize first that we all have unfulfilled longings. That’s part of this fallen human condition. As long as we are in this flesh, whether you’re married or single, you are going to have unfulfilled longings. For every single woman I’ve known who has an unfulfilled longing for marriage, I’ve known at least that many married women (probably more) who have an unfulfilled longing—I’m not going to say for singleness, but I’m going to say for a more intimate marriage, or for a more satisfying marriage, or for a more God-centered husband, or something in their marriage that they wish were different.

So having unfulfilled longings is not wrong. In fact, you will never be without them. For you it may not be the issue of marriage. It may be in some other area of your life.

I love what Elisabeth Elliot used to say. I think she got this from Amy Carmichael. And that is those unfulfilled longings give us material for sacrifice. They give us something to offer to the Lord and say, “Lord, I love You, and I trust You even if You never fulfill the longings of my heart.”

Now, if you have the longing, it’s not wrong to ask the Lord for it, and to say, “Lord, if this would please You, if I could glorify You through this, this would be the longing of my heart.” Don’t feel like you can’t ask Him that. If it’s something that’s not forbidden in the Scripture, and marriage is certainly promoted in the Scripture, not forbidden. So don’t hesitate to ask Him.

If you want to see God change your marriage, don’t hesitate to ask Him that. But then also be willing to give Him your unfulfilled longing. Say, “Lord, even if You don’t fulfill this longing, I will still love and trust You. I will choose to serve You,” because otherwise you’re just a paid lover of God. "I’ll serve You and I’ll love You when You give me what I want," and God’s not going to operate that way.

In every other area of life as well as this one, ultimately, listen up, it’s not about me. It’s not about what makes me happy. It’s not about what I want. It’s not about what will make my life easy. Now, it’s easy for me to stand here and say this, but when I’m off the platform and life is pressing in and I live right where you do with hardships and disappointments and frustrations, who do we think about? Me. How does this affect me?

But if we can step back from that and try to see things from God’s great eternal point of view, we remember it’s not about us. It’s about God—His plan, His purposes, His kingdom, eternity, the gospel getting out. So I can say, “Lord, if it would please You for me to serve You married, then I’m willing to do that. If that’s what will glorify You the most. But if You can be most glorified through my accepting this singleness as a gift, at least for however long it is, if not my whole lifetime, if I can glorify You best by receiving this gift and serving You as a single woman, then all that matters to me is that You are pleased and that You are glorified.”

Now, that doesn’t mean you’re not honest about your feelings or your emotions and you don’t say to the Lord, "This is hard. I need Your grace to accept this." Not just once but day after day. Contentment. You said that word, and it’s such a precious word.

I have come to believe that if I’m not content in the circumstances where God has placed me, then there’s not any circumstance in the world where I will be content. I want to remind you single women of that because you think, "If I just had"—it’s one thing when you’re twenty-three, it’s another when you’re forty-three—and to say, "If I just had that husband, I would be content." I’m telling you, if you’re not content without a husband, then you will find ways to be discontent when you do have a husband. And the married women all said, “Amen.”

So single, married, younger, older, students, moms, the question is: How can my life glorify Christ in this season of my life? And Lord, whatever that is, I need your grace to do it. I can’t do it without you. That’s a good place to be.

Lynae: My name is Lynae and I was wondering if you have any strategies for memorizing large portions of Scripture. I know you’ve memorized a lot.

Nancy: She asked about strategies for memorizing large portions of Scripture. We aired a series on Revive Our Hearts, an interview I did with a woman named Janet Pope who’s written a book called His Word in My Heart. I believe that’s a Moody Publishers book, if I’m not mistaken. Great book. You ought to get a hold of that. She believes in memorizing whole books of the Bible. She’s done it, I think, with eighteen of them or something like that, last count, but she’s done it over like eighteen years, just steadily.

When I listened to her, I thought, Anybody could do this. She breaks it down in a way that is really simple. Now, I wish eighteen years ago I had started doing it the way she recommended because my way has not been the best, but I have tried over the years to memorize large portions of Scripture. I’ll tell you what, there are no shortcuts. There are no shortcuts.

I just in the past year or so I memorized the book of Revelation. I’ve been working recently on the Sermon on the Mount. I took a class on the Sermon on the Mount, so I worked on memorizing most of those three chapters. I’ve been this past week in a portion of Isaiah 41 and then Psalm 27. I find if I just stick at it . . . You just say it again and again and again and again. You just keep doing it. It takes time. There are no shortcuts. There are no easy ways to do it.

I was able to memorize more easily thirty years ago than I can today, so for those of you who are younger women, do it now. It is harder now, and I don’t know and I can’t explain why that is, but maybe it’s just because you have more things in your head when you’re fifty-one than when you’re twenty-one, but do it when you’re younger.

Those of you who have children, if I were parenting today, I would get those children memorizing huge sections of Scripture. They memorize so many other things. It’s amazing what those little kids have in their heads. Get them memorizing the Word of God. Get them memorizing the book of Proverbs. They could do it in a period of years. As they do it, you do it with them.

We aired another series on Revive Our Hearts that you can get on our website. It’s an interview with Nancy Epperson where she talked about Scripture memory. You can get the transcripts or the audio. She talked about how as a mother when she had little kids, she would write a portion of Scripture for the week in some kind of marker, the kind that comes off. She would write it on her kitchen counter. She would say it again and again and again, and she was working during the week, and it would begin to wear off. At the end of the week, she would scrub the counter clean and write another Scripture on it.

Then she said she realized she was just saying these as she was going through her week and that her three-year-old son was memorizing them with her, was picking them up. Now those are just individual verses. With longer sections, break it down into shorter sections. Just a verse at a time, a phrase at a time, meditating on it.

The huge key and the thing I have not done as much of over the years as I wish I had is reviewing those passages. Most of what I have memorized in the past I cannot quote. That’s the difference between me and Janet Pope that I interviewed. She can still quote it all because she’s been reviewing it constantly over all these years.

If I were starting again today as a younger woman memorizing Scripture, that’s the thing I would do differently. Maybe memorize a little less, but be reviewing it so that it stays with me. But I tell you what, even if it doesn’t stay with you, I wouldn’t let that discourage you because while you’re working on it, it’s still getting into your system. You’re meditating on it, and it’s influencing your heart.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been offering practical advice in a Q&A session recorded at Moody Bible Institute. We ended with a helpful discussion on Scripture memory. If you'd like to follow up with programs on Scripture memory, visit the archives at ReviveOurHearts.com. You might want to start with programs Nancy recorded with Janet Pope.

Janet: I found that even though I had no extra time slots in my day, I could memorize while I was doing other things. I included Scripture memory in my morning routine: in the shower, blow drying my hair, putting on makeup and clothes. Those were the things where my hands were busy, but my mind was free. So I was able to memorize Scripture while I was doing these things.

Not only was I getting to know God's Word, but I was redeeming the time—just a minute here and a minute there. So that's really where I began.

Leslie: Tomorrow, Josh McDowell joins Nancy to talk about ways that you can talk to your children about wise choices in a sinful world. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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