Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: An argument at the end of the day isn’t very conducive for sleep. That’s Vicki Rose’s experience.

Vicki Rose: I said, “This is probably not the best way to go to sleep.” And he said, “Well I’m going to.” And with that the lights went out. I just laid there and I started to pray right away; I went before the Lord.

It had been such a busy time. And I know my focus hadn’t been in all the right places. And if truth be known, I’m probably the one who provoked the argument completely because I was just so overtired, worn out.

I just started praying. And I kept hearing, “A gentle answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1, NIV).

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, February 13.

If you’ve missed any of the programs this week, I hope you’ll visit ReviveOurHeartsRadio.com to catch up. We’ve heard a powerful story. Here’s Nancy to tell us more.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, it has been such a joy, such a treat this week to have a guest here at the studios of WRMB (that we’ve been borrowing for this week’s series), a special guest, Vicki Rose, who is a trophy of God’s grace.

Vicki, thank you for sharing your story, and thank you for obeying God, for letting Him change you, letting Him redeem your marriage. I believe there are a whole lot of other marriages that are going to be redeemed because of what you’ve been willing to share and your obedience to the Lord and then your willingness to share that with others.

Vicki: Well, first of all, thank you for my being here. And again, thank you for your family and their love for the Lord—so much so that each one of you has dedicated your lives to helping others know Christ. Because of that, I’m sitting here.

Nancy: Let me reset that for some of our listeners who may not have been with us. Again, if you haven’t heard the whole series, this is a CD that you need to order. You’ll want to hear the story yourself and you’ll want to share it with others. Every person listening knows somebody whose marriage is in crisis.

I think it’s time that we reclaim, as Christians, this whole issue of marriage and say, “God can put a marriage back together. God can keep a marriage together. And God can make Christian marriages reflections of His grace and His goodness and His mercy.” Vicki and Billy Rose are certainly an illustration of that.

Just for a little background here, Vicki and Billy both came out of Jewish backgrounds. And you handed me a picture just a few moments ago here in the studio of you and Billy and your two kids who are now in their twenties, one of them heading into full-time vocational campus ministry.

My mom has known you for many years. I don’t know you as well, but based on the stories I’ve heard and what you’ve shared this week, it’s an incredible thing that the four of you are in this photo together. This is a current photo.

Vicki: This is a current photo, and it’s a miracle. And God is still in the business of doing miracles if we get out of His way and try to obey His Word and try to do what He says. He means what He says, and that’s my desire: for people to know that God means what He says, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33, NIV).

As a single mom, I started to do that, and God not only restored my marriage but He restored my kids’ relationship with each other. It was in disarray, and they are now friends working on a really great friendship. I mean, when God says something in His Word, He means it. And He put it there for us to read it and do it. That’s what excites me so much when I read His Word—because I know that it works.

Nancy: This is not just theory for you; this is something you have lived. You said earlier in this series that your marriage was as bad as a marriage could be. Your husband was cocaine addicted. You were kind of power- and self-addicted, as you’ve told the story.

Vicki: Exactly.

Nancy: You were a high-powered professional woman in the retail business. Your husband is a businessman and involved in a series of businesses. You were two very capable people, but were running your own lives and going opposite directions. And you split up for five and a half years, Billy living with another woman. And everybody would have said, and some Christians told you, “Dump this guy and move on with your life.” But you came to faith in Christ.

The connection—for those who haven’t heard the story—to my mother was that my mother was hosting an evangelistic outreach dinner party for business and professional people in New York City. You got an invitation. You went. You heard the gospel. You gave your life to Christ.

Some years later, your husband went to another similar outreach that my mother hosted. He came to faith in Christ. And over a period of years, God so changed each of you that then Billy came home and over a period of time . . . and I keep saying that—the process, the period of time—because it didn’t happen overnight.

Vicki: No, it did not happen overnight. But God has restored as we are moving towards 30 years of marriage. Billy and I are both in awe. And we know completely that it’s not us. I mean, yes, we’ve made choices along the way to seek the Lord, to do things according to His Word. But it’s God who has done it. It’s God who gets all the glory for it truly, not us. It’s God whose grace made it possible for each of us to work through the issues that we faced.

Nancy: And now God’s using you and Billy to touch other lives. I mentioned in the first broadcast in this series that my mother and sister had dinner with you and Billy and some others last week. My sister was telling me on the phone before I came down for this interview just how sweet it was.

She said, “I hadn’t seen Billy in about ten years.” She said, “He’s so different. He’s so changed.” And to see you all not only walking with the Lord but your children walking with the Lord.

Apparently, there was another woman there that evening who had come to faith in Christ through hearing you share your testimony, a grandchild spiritually to my mother and the fruit of that ministry. And what a joy it is. I know that many of our listeners who’ve been hearing this story are going to be fruit of your ministry as they have faith instilled in their hearts that God really can work in their situation.

And so, Vicki, over the last several days we’ve told the story. We’ve kind of summarized it in quick fashion here. But on today’s program I want us to take a reflective look at your life and what God has taught you about this issue of marriage and God’s purposes and plans.

Now you’ve been back together 15-16 years, and your children are walking with the Lord. You’re seeing the fruit of these years, but there were some long, hard, rough times there. And you’re still working at your marriage as any couple has to.

But as you reflect on where you’ve been, what God has done, what you’ve experienced, I know there are some things that are key take-aways, key points, key principles that you can see have been effective in your life and in your marriage. I want us to talk through some of those and give you a chance to share with our listeners and those who want to see their marriage become all God wants it to be.

Help us think through some of the key foundational principles that you’ve seen work out in your life. I know one of them would have to be along the lines of obedience.

Vicki: The first time I read the Old Testament, I finished it and I wrote one sentence out in my journal, “God blesses obedience.” Because I felt at that first reading, the first time I read through, that that was the one theme over and over. It was just so clear that as I read that and learned that God hated divorce, to me it was a no-brainer at that point. Why would I knowingly divorce when it says God hates it and that He blesses obedience?

Nancy: In that case your emotions were telling you something far different. Other counselors were telling you, “You can dump this guy.” But you staked your ground on the Word of God and said, “Christ is my Lord now and I’m going to obey Him.” You walked by faith instead of by feelings, especially in those early days when obedience was really hard.

Vicki: That’s right. And I think the other key truth for me is that God’s Word is the truth, which is what led me to want to obey. His Word is the truth from start to finish. By reading it and knowing it, by standing on it . . . what I mean by that is when God says something, believe it and say, “Okay, God. You said it, I’m going to do it, and then I’m going to believe that You mean it.”

Nancy: I know one of the key areas where you had to do that—and it’s a huge hurdle for so many people—is in the whole area of forgiveness. How did you forgive? God’s Word said to do it, you knew that, you chose to.

But how did you forgive a man who was unfaithful, who for years squandered income on drugs and was living this profligate life? You made a choice to forgive that man even before he had come to faith in Christ and was repentant. How did you do that?

Vicki:
The way it started was through reading God’s Word and reading that God commands us to forgive seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22), and then reading also that it said in God’s Word that I will only be forgiven as much as I forgive others (see Matthew 6:14–15).

I knew I had a lot to be forgiven. I knew Billy had a lot to be forgiven. And I knew I wasn’t his judge, because of God’s Word. As much as I wanted to hold him accountable for how he’d hurt me . . . that’s really the bottom line when you forgive someone. It’s because they’ve hurt you so much.

His choices had hurt me and our children so, so, so much. But I wanted to do what God said. And that’s really the only way I can explain it. God’s Word said it and so I had no idea how to do it. So I started to pray and ask God to show me how, and for Him to make the transaction in my heart because I’m not a forgiving person.

As you’ve said before, I’m a control person and I like to be in charge and I like to be right. And I like everybody to know that I’m right. But that’s really unattractive and it doesn’t usually bring about forgiveness.

I started to pray that God would cause my heart to completely forgive Billy and that He’d help me to get out of the way. The other thing I started to pray for at the same time was that God would bring about oneness in our marriage, because that’s what it says in the Bible that “the two shall become one” (Ephesians 5:31, ESV).

So I prayed that Billy would “leave his father and his mother”—who were both still alive—and that we would become one. I had no idea what that meant. I had no idea what that would look like. I just knew that God’s Word said it, and if He said it that He might have a way of doing it. So I started to pray for that.

Nancy: You’ve really seen the power of prayer.

Vicki: God answers prayer. That would be the third thing I would say to anyone listening: that God answers prayer. When we try to obey Him He blesses that, and one of the ways He blesses that is through answered prayer—answered prayer about your marriage and answered prayer that’s lined up with the will of God.

Praying for oneness in your marriage is praying according to the will of God, and God is going to answer that prayer. And we sometimes have to get out of the way and let Him do it and not be surprised and continue to obey, and He will bless that.

Nancy: And God blessed not only your prayers but the prayers of your children—who from the time they were little were praying for Billy to come to faith in Christ—and others in your church and the Body of Christ who were praying. Probably not until eternity will you know all the people who were praying.

Vicki: That’s exactly right. Another thing that I really want to say is that it’s really important—when you have difficulty in your marriage or in any other area of your life—that you ask people to pray for you. So many times I hear of people—particularly people in the church—who are afraid to admit that they’re having problems because they think they’re supposed to have it all together.

The most important thing is to bring before God. The more people that can do that for you . . . I’m not saying broadcast it to the nations, but if you have two or three people you can completely trust and bring prayer requests to, God answers prayer. And it says also that God delights to do good to us. He tells us that in Jeremiah. He says, “I will never stop doing good to them” (32:40, NIV), and “I will rejoice in doing them good” (verse 41).

So we’re coming to a Father who loves us so much, who wants to pour out His grace onto us. So when you pray knowing that, it’s the most powerful thing there is.

Nancy: You’ve also come to find that hope is not found in having everything that you’d think you’d like to have in your marriage, but it’s found in something—someone—much more permanent and deep than that.

Vicki: And that’s Jesus Christ. Hope is definitely found only in Jesus Christ. Marriage can be great. Your relationship with your children can be great. But if we place our hope in our things, one day they’re definitely going to disappoint us because nobody is perfect and everybody disappoints us at one time or another because we’re human. So if our hope is completely in the Lord and in His Word and in what it says, then we cannot be disappointed. And that really talks about expectations.

Nancy: Because when you got married you had an expectation . . .

Vicki: I had expectations for everything.

Nancy: . . . of marriage satisfying you. And nothing turned out the way you wanted. And then you ended up miserable.

Vicki: That’s right. I had an expectation on that broad and general level as well as expectation on the daily level of moment-by-moment things that we do. We expect our husbands to walk in the door a certain way or we expect dinner to be such and such. As long as we have expectations, we’re going to be disappointed.

Nancy: I’ve had three couples share with me in recent years—actually it was the women who shared it—that their 25th anniversary (I don’t know what it is about that anniversary) was a big bummer. In each case they had an expectation of what it was going to be like, how special it was going to be, how their husband was going to handle the evening.

And the women were so distressed and distraught afterwards because nothing turned out the way they hoped. And it turned out that their 25th anniversary—that actual day—was one of the worst days in their marriage.

Vicki: I can totally relate.

Nancy: And in each case it went back to blown expectations.

Vicki: Right. It’s so hurtful in a marriage relationship to have expectations like that.

Nancy: So you have to keep yielding those expectations, don’t you?

Vicki: Yes, and I speak to myself under my breath, “No expectations today. Lord, it’s Your day.” It’s about what the Lord wants today, not what I want. And I need His help to just stay in that place of putting Him first.

Nancy: I think the other thing I’ve heard you say, Vicki, through the course of this story is that there are no shortcuts—that a good, healthy marriage doesn’t just happen by magic. Of course it takes the grace of God. But it also takes cooperating with that grace and working at it day in and day out.

Vicki: That’s exactly right, Nancy. Almost at 30 years, we’re still working it out. We had a ferocious argument a few days ago.

Nancy: Right as you were getting ready to come in for this interview, probably.

Vicki: Exactly. And it’s just been a really interesting two or three weeks. But we went to sleep probably not having solved it all at all. And I don’t want to throw Billy under the rug, but I said, “This is probably not the best way to go to sleep.” And he said, “Well I’m going to.” And with that the lights went out. I just laid there and I started to pray right away; I went before the Lord.

It had been such a busy time. And I know my focus hadn’t been in all the right places. And if truth be known, I’m probably the one who provoked the argument completely because I was just so overtired, worn out.

I just started praying. And I kept hearing, “A gentle answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1, NIV). And I thought, “I am so mad that he did just what we’re not supposed to do—go to sleep angry, you know, “let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26, ESV). And so I just prayed.

Nancy: So you’re mad now because he’s mad.

Vicki: Right. But I couldn’t go to sleep. He went right to sleep. I couldn’t go to sleep. I got up and for a couple of hours I had some truth time with the Lord. I started confessing that I had had expectations and that I was wanting him to be someone he wasn’t and all the things that I tell everybody not to do, but that I had been doing. I confessed that before the Lord, and I asked Him to show me a way to bless my husband.

When he woke up the next morning as much as I really was starting to fight that anger, I said, “Lord I want a way to serve him when he wakes up in the morning. And I want a gentle answer to have for him in the morning.” I was so upset. I just don’t like controversy; I’m not good at it. And I was just really upset.

Well, I did get a little bit of sleep that night. I got up early. I was having my quiet time and Billy opened my office door and he poked his head in and he said, “I’m so sorry I went to sleep angry.” And because I had been praying and praying, I just immediately said to him, “I love you so much. You’re the only one for me.”

What could have been two or three or four days of anger and coldness and tension was totally defused. When I see something like that happen, I say, “God’s Word is the truth. When He says, ‘A gentle answer turns away wrath,’ He means it. And it does.”

Because God had prepared me with a gentle answer and because God had answered my prayer to soften Billy’s heart (which is what I’d been praying through the night), the whole thing was defused.

Nancy: You sent me an email not too long ago after you listened to a series that we aired on Revive Our Hearts. You said, “These are the same principles that Billy and I have used in the process of our marital reconciliation, and they have worked!” And then you have about seven exclamation points there.

You went on to say, “We are living in a healed and trust-filled and hopeful and joyful relationship,” in spite of the blips on the screen like a few days ago that you just described. And then you said, “After listening to this series, I wanted to run and call the radio station and say, ‘It works! It works!’”

Well, of course it’s God who works. It’s God who works within us “to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13, KJV). But, Vicki, you have by God’s grace surrendered yourself to the Word of God, to the ways of God. And you’re being honest in saying, “Even after 30 years of marriage we still have to work at it. We still blow it. We still have to make things right. We still have to walk in humility before each other.”

But when you do it God’s way—when you choose the pathway of humility and obedience—God infuses Himself and His power and His grace into that relationship.

Leslie: Maybe you need to see God’s power in your marriage right now. Vicki Rose will be right back to pray with you. Vicki just shared some important lessons about forgiveness. If she didn’t forgive others, she wouldn’t be forgiven. She was called to forgive seventy times seven, which basically means all the time, and she had to forgive simply out of obedience.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss talks about these issues in her book Choosing Forgiveness: Your Journey to Freedom. If there’s something between you and someone else, you need to read this book. It can transform your relationships.

All week we’ve been telling you about a great opportunity. When you support Revive Our Hearts with a donation of any amount, we’ll send the hardcover edition of Choosing Forgiveness: Your Journey to Freedom. This is the final day we’ll be making this offer, so call us at 1-800-569-5959 or visit ReviveOurHeartsRadio.com.

You can also visit our website to order a copy of this week’s conversation on CD. Like Nancy just said earlier, this is one story you’ll want to hear again. The address is ReviveOurHeartsRadio.com.

Next week hear the message Nancy delivered at the beginning of the True Woman ’08 conference. Hear what God put on her heart. I hope you’ll serve and worship faithfully at church this Sunday and then join us back on Monday for Revive Our Hearts.

 Now let’s pray with Vicki Rose and Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy: Vicki, there are a lot of people who prayed for you and for Billy over those years. I know my mom has prayed for you and Billy over the years. And I think it would be such a blessing if you would pray for our listeners, for those who are in a really difficult marriage situation right now. I think that would be a way for you to invest in their marriage.

I know you’ve prayed leading up to this series of interviews, but I think our listeners would be blessed if they could just hear you pray for them. So would you do that?

Vicki: It would be my privilege.

Father, we come to You right now. You are the mighty God for whom all things are possible. And so, Father, my first prayer would be for that person listening right now who’s in a difficult marriage, a difficult situation of any kind, that they would know You through and through as the God who sees, the mighty God, the God who can do anything, the God who is all powerful, the God who is so full of grace and mercy that He hears and answers our prayers.

Father, I pray that the listener would know that into the depths of their heart, that they would turn their life toward You and trust You. And I pray, Father, that that person would read Your Word and know that Your Word is the truth and know that Your Word is meant as a blessing to us and that You do what it says.

When You give a promise in Your Word, Lord, You mean it. And so I pray for that. I pray that You would encourage each listener in their walk with You to draw nearer, to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness, to trust in You with all their hearts and lean not on their own understanding, to be doers of the Word and not hearers only.

Father, I pray that You would bring someone alongside of each person listening to pray with them, to be a prayer partner, to encourage them, to open the Word of God together and to encourage one another, because Your Word never returns void.

And Father, I want people to know that it is all about what You did. Billy and I did not do this on our own. We could never have manufactured any of this. It is all by Your grace, by Your power, by Your Word, by Your mercy, by Your saving hand, by leading us to Your Son Jesus Christ, by Your giving Jesus.

And so, Father, my prayer for the listeners is that they would completely surrender their lives to You, that they would know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and that they would seek Him first.

Father, thank You. Thank You for what You’ve done in my family. Thank You for my husband. Thank You for the treasure that He is. Thank You for the sweetness we have in our relationship. Thank You that He has indeed become a refuge for me and knowing that he’s been praying for me throughout this taping and knowing that he loves You so much. Thank You for that, Father.

Thank You for both of our children, who love You and are seeking You. Thank you for the fact that we can stand for a family photograph together and be a complete family in You. That is the greatest gift, Lord. Thank You so much. I love You and I praise You, and I ask all this in Jesus’ name, amen.

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

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard version unless otherwise noted.

 

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