Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Seek the Lord First

Leslie Basham: When Vicki Rose’s husband became a believer in Jesus, she wanted to help change details of his lifestyle immediately, but she had to back off and let the Holy Spirit do His work.

Vicki Rose: If I’m constantly nagging at Billy, he can’t hear the Lord, and so “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19, NIV). That is the message that I have to keep telling myself even now—for me to listen to God and to listen to Billy and to keep my mouth shut and let God work in Billy’s heart and life.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, February 12.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Most of our Revive Our Hearts programs are recorded in Little Rock with our FamilyLife Today ministry partners. The reason we are at WRMB studios today here in south Florida is because we have a very special guest who’s been with us on the program this week and has been telling us what I think is such a compelling story of the mercy and the grace and the power of God.

I remember my dad used to say when we were kids, as we would talk about difficult marriages or people who you just didn’t think could ever come to faith in Christ, my dad would say, “There’s no tough nuts for God to crack.” I’ve seen that be true over and over again.

Vicki Rose, you and Billy, humanly speaking, were tough nuts, but the Lord knew how to get a hold of your hearts. He did, and I’m so thankful that you’re here with us on the program this week to share that story with our listeners.

Vicki: We were very tough nuts, and we were very lost. As I would say, “out there”—drugs, separated from marriage after nine and a half years of marriage, two young children, being a single mom, working a retailing career, traveling all over the Orient, the Far East . . .

Nancy: . . . Jewish background . . .

Vicki: . . . Jewish background. We had so many things going on, and most of all there was a lot of chaos. Our life was in pieces. Our marriage was in pieces.

Nancy: You said on one of the earlier programs that when you got married, you were thinking of going to the ballet, but your husband was into baseball, and that kind of epitomizes the differences in the two of you.

Vicki: We are completely different. We used to be able to say the only interest that we had in common was our children, but the interesting thing now is that God is changing us so that we do have some interests in common. We were as far apart as any couple could possibly be. We were headed for divorce. We were headed for our children to have a life of shuttling back and forth between parents and possibly even step-parents, and it was not a pretty picture. But God . . .

Nancy: . . . and God’s grace.

Vicki: Right.

Nancy: We’ve talked in earlier programs this week. For those listeners who haven’t heard the whole story, I want to encourage you to order the CD of this series, not only to listen to yourself, but it would be a great story to share with someone that you know. In fact, I’ve been thinking of someone as we’ve been talking together here in the studio, thinking of someone, Vicki, she reminds me so much of where you were.

Vicki: And that’s my burden and my desire, for other people to know that no matter how bad the situation is in a marriage—and ours was as bad as it could possibly be—that God can change things and restore it. My marriage today is a treasured place of refuge for both Billy and for me.

Nancy: You all have made it to 30 years. You would have never thought that was going to be possible.

Vicki: That’s exactly right. We just did some simple things like trying to follow God’s Word, and God’s Word says that if you obey Him, He will bless you, and He meant it; He means it. We’re getting ahead of the story again, but God has done that so incredibly as we sought to do the things His Word said in putting our marriage back together.

Nancy: So let’s back up so we can catch up on the story here. You had come to faith in Christ while you were separated. You and your children, at your children’s suggestion, started praying daily for their dad’s salvation. These were little ones, three and five maybe at the time?

Vicki: That’s right.

Nancy: They were praying faithfully, and I suppose that was really spurring your faith because at that point you weren’t really wanting to get back with Billy Rose.

Vicki: Right. They were praying . . . we were all praying for Billy to come to know Jesus, not necessarily for our marriage to get back together, but I remember the kids saying to me, things like, “If Daddy comes to know Jesus, will he come home?”

Then we talked about how he did pray to receive Christ at another dinner that your mother hosted for the purpose of sharing the gospel, and the kids would say, “Well, now that Daddy knows Jesus, when is he coming home?” I didn’t know. We hadn’t worked out the issues yet, and I would share back with the children that our hope is in Jesus, our hope is not in our family itself or even in our family being restored, but our hope is in the Lord, and we just need to look to Him and trust Him to work it out.

Nancy: And it didn’t all get worked out quickly.

Vicki: No, it didn’t. Billy prayed to receive Christ in December of 1990. He checked into rehab the beginning of that following February, right on our anniversary, as a matter of fact.

Nancy: He was cocaine addicted, as you’ve shared earlier.

Vicki: That’s right, and just before he checked into rehab, I had started on a regular reading of the Bible through the year. And for the first time I had read Joel and read the verse that says, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten” (2:25). I knew God was speaking to me. I didn’t know the Lord that long—I knew Him about three years—but I knew that verse was meant for me that day.

As we went forward, I said, “Okay, Lord, I’m going to hold on to that verse.” Well, it turned out studying that verse just a year ago, the word repay in the ancient Hebrew means to complete and to fulfill, and so when God is in the process of repaying the years, He has completed and fulfilled our marriage.

Nancy: Restoring . . .

Vicki: Completely restored.

Nancy: But it was a long, hard process.

Vicki: It was a long hard process. Billy checked into rehab. He stayed a week. They wanted him to stay two, and I thought he needed at least a month, and he still had a business to run—a sports bar and restaurant, which I thought should immediately be sold. I mean, I had our lives worked out. Now that he’d prayed to receive Christ, I had everything figured out how it should be done.

Nancy: Are you a controller?

Vicki: Oh, yes, which was part of the problem.

Nancy: So God was changing you, too?

Vicki: Oh yes, oh yes. And so Billy checked out of rehab after a week. The Lord really visited him in a major way in rehab. His second night of detoxing—which Billy had tried to do several times before—God completely removed that night his desire for cocaine, and Billy went out that night to the floor counselor and said, “I can leave now, I’m fine.” The guy said, “I don’t think so.” He did stay the week, but he has been completely cocaine free since that night—this is 15 years later.

Nancy: That’s the power of God.

Vicki: Exactly. So Billy came out of rehab and I took the children—we had to go to a family care, I guess they call it—and I still had a lot of bitterness. I mean, so much was . . . he’d prayed to receive Christ; I had prayed to receive Christ. We were both now believers in Christ. We were going to church together on Sundays. He was still living in his apartment apart from us, and I figured he’d come out of rehab and come home.

He didn’t figure that at all. He wasn’t ready, and he had to work his program, and . . . oh, there were just so many issues. Even just how he dressed was so like a single guy in a restaurant, and I was a single mother with two young children in the preschool world. We were just so different. We were in such different worlds.

So just being together and doing things together—I’d get in the car, he’d come and pick us up in the car to go to church, and we’d be blasting some rock and roll song. It would like so jar my senses, because I would have been wafting praise music through the kitchen while trying to get the kids dressed, and I’d get in the car, and I’d immediately turn it off, which was such the wrong thing to do. It would completely put him on the defensive.

Nancy: And he wasn’t wanting to step back into a world where he was going to be controlled or condemned . . .

Vicki: Exactly, either one, and I did both. I was much “holier than thou” and really knew how it was supposed to “look,” and I was not much of a help. I look back on that really regretting a lot. You can only be as mature as you are where you are, you can’t do it any differently, and I didn’t know a lot, but I’ve learned since.

Nancy: But you were committed to the Word of God . . .

Vicki: Right.

Nancy: . . . and to pleasing the Lord . . .

Vicki: Right.

Nancy: . . .and that’s what God honored.

Vicki: And thankfully, in His own way, so was Billy, and therefore, here we are, almost celebrating our 30th anniversary.

Nancy: Okay, you’ve got to fill in some gaps here.

Vicki: I know, I know.

Nancy: How did you get back together?

Vicki: So that was February and March. We were going to church together, and we’d do some family outings together for the afternoon, and we’d start spending time together. The kids and I would start going down to the restaurant, maybe Sunday afternoon, to be with Billy. It was a sports bar and restaurant, and open seven days, seven nights a week, and I thought that he should sell this place immediately.

Here we are, believers in Jesus Christ, and what are we doing owning a bar? Well, he really didn’t think that and wasn’t there, and for a guy, really, what he does is who he is, and especially someone who is a brand new believer, brand new sober, brand new trying to get back with his family. I mean, he had so much going on that I was so insensitive to. I was all about my needs: I need a husband at home now, today.

We muddled through March, April, and May. His mom became very sick, and his dad as well. His dad was in his 90s, his mom in her 70s, and so we had both of his parents in the hospital. And I’m just thinking, “I need to not pressure him with anything,” and all that was on my mind was him coming home and the kids would say, “When’s Daddy coming home?” We were not near that mark.

We were in church one Sunday and a guest preacher came. I kept saying to Billy, “We need to get counseling.” He said, “I know,” but we didn’t know who to go to. The guest preacher I had met once, and I knew that he worked with difficult cases, which . . .

Nancy: . . . you certainly qualified . . .

Vicki: . . . we certainly qualified. So I leaned over in the middle of the sermon, and I said, “I think that guy would counsel us.” Billy said, “Well, I’d talk to him.” It turned out we did. The man was B. J. Webber, our dear, dear friend. It turned out, unbeknownst to me or Billy that B. J. Webber was chaplain of the New York Yankees.

Nancy: So they had a common interest.

Vicki: They had a huge common interest, and God so orchestrated that for us. We started meeting with B. J., and he started leading us through a book that talked about the husband versus wife issues, and my eyes were so opened to the things that I had never even considered were important to my husband. And Billy’s eyes were open to things that he realized I needed, and we started to work on those issues together. We went to counseling once, sometimes twice a week.

Nancy: And probably the operative word there is work.

Vicki: Work—yes, that is true.

Nancy: It’s more than counseling. Just sitting in a counseling session once or twice a week would not have done it if you weren’t both willing to work on it.

Vicki: And committed to trying to get back together. But I look back . . . again, it had to have been the grace of God because we were just coming from such different directions still. So we got through the summer, and I was just getting really impatient. Billy would visit on weekends at the country house—again, in the summer—at my dad’s country house. They’d let us go up there, and Billy would come up, and I would think, “Okay, when September comes and the summer’s over, and we move completely back to the city, he’s going to come home. It’s just going to be the way that it is, and our life will get back to some semblance of normal.”

Well, normalcy . . . he didn’t feel that way, and he wasn’t ready to come home, and I was devastated and couldn’t understand. I started thinking, “Something’s really wrong with me,” and then I met with B. J. and his wife Sheila, and they just counseled me to go about my life and to let Billy work it out, and to look to the Lord and to keep seeking the Lord first.

Nancy: And that meant really relinquishing your control, your hold on this situation.

Vicki: Yes. I think, if that’s probably not the key every time, as long as I’m controlling it, or I’m in charge, it means I’m not giving God the chance to do what He needs to do in Billy’s life. That’s a lesson that I keep having to learn over and over, but I’m getting a more each time. If I’m constantly nagging at Billy, he can’t hear the Lord, and so “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19, NIV).

Nancy: I think it says that in the Bible.

Vicki: Yes.

Nancy: James chapter 1, verse 19.

Vicki: Yes. That is the message that I have to keep—even now to tell myself—for me to listen to God and to listen to Billy and to keep my mouth shut and let God work in Billy’s heart and life.

So anyway, Billy’s mother became much sicker. In October or November, he called me one morning. She’d been rushed to the hospital. He asked me to meet him there, and I did. He came out after getting her settled in intensive care, and he looked at me, and he said, “I’m going home and packing my suitcases. I’m coming home.”

Nancy: Just like that?

Vicki: Just like that, and I said, “Wow!” Running through my head, though—the Vicki who’s still wanting things her way—I had pictured this very differently. I’d pictured a ceremony. I’d pictured all sorts of different things, but God really spoke to my heart right then and there, and said, “Okay, this is okay.”

And so Billy did just that. He went home and he packed, and that afternoon, when Douglas and Courtney came home from school, the front hall was filled with suitcases, and Billy had come home. Douglas actually went on to write a paper just about that. It was called, “The Best Day Ever,” about when he came home from school and found the front hall filled with suitcases, and Daddy had come home.

Nancy: And for your children to see God move in that way—what did that do to their faith?

Vicki: Wow. He came home and a few days later it was Courtney’s seventh birthday, and we as a family went to see Peter Pan playing on Broadway. We got home that night, and I was tucking Courtney into bed. We were praying together, and before we prayed, she looked at me, and she said, “Mommy, you know God can do anything.” I said, “I know that, but what do you mean?” She said, “If God can bring Daddy home, then He can do anything.” She was only seven years old, and that is the truth. God can do anything. God did bring Billy home.

You asked the question, “What did that do to my children’s faith?” Well, now the children are in their 20s. They’re not children anymore—they’re young adults. Doug is going into full-time ministry on a campus ministry, and his life is completely . . . it’s so clear that this is what he’s meant to do. The Lord has so touched him, and he is just clearly anointed to do this. He’s raised almost all of his support, and he’s heading out in a few months.

Nancy: So your husband is home, and they all lived happily ever after.

Vicki: Yes, and in the middle of all that . . .

Nancy: . . . but a little bit more to it than that . . .

Vicki: There’s a whole lot more to it. It’s a daily process. I think even just before coming here to do this with you these last two or three weeks have been a challenge again. We go through seasons in our life, I think . . . I know in our marriage.

Nancy: Well I assume that even back at that time there were things you all had to work through. You’d been apart for five and a half years.

Vicki: We’ve been back together a little more than 14 years, and back at that time, everything was a challenge. I mean, just about everything. I had gotten on all sorts of committees, but Billy was in the restaurant business, and so he’d be out late at night but home in the mornings, so I cancelled all of my morning activities. That would be the only time we would have together alone, and I just knew I was supposed to do that.

I asked the school if I could not be class mom for the second year, so on and so forth, so that we would have time alone in the mornings, and God just led us both to do different things like that to start building our marriage. We really started from scratch, and so we started to read the Bible. I was in a serious Bible study.

That’s what kept us going—the Word of God—and kept us. It says, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26, NASB), God says, and so we would try not to go to sleep angry if we’d had a disagreement. But there were plenty of disagreements, and Billy still worked seven days a week for the most part, and some Sundays didn’t make it to church in that first year or two.

Nancy: Was it hard for you not to put the squeeze on him to change in those areas?

Vicki: Oh, I did. I mean, yes, it was hard for me, and then I would end up always saying something. The Lord finally led me to a place of realizing that there was only one person I could do anything about and that was myself, Vicki Rose, and she was a very full-time job as it was, and I needed to leave Billy Rose up to God Himself.

But that took more than five years of his being back home for me to get to that place of really relinquishing him to the Lord. Instead of wanting him to be . . . I came to realize I really didn’t want him to be what I wanted him to be, I wanted him to be what God wanted him to be.

Nancy: And that’s a process.

Vicki: It was a process for me to get there.

Nancy: And it’s for God to work in his life, and I think for us to be impatient and say, “Lord, You have to change this husband or this child or this parent or this person, and do it now,” that’s not the way God works with us, and it’s not the way He does it with others generally.

Vicki: That’s right. God’s purpose in each of our lives is not that we be happily married or have perfect children or anything else, but that we be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ His Son, and that we look more like Him and become holy.

Nancy: And that really is the way to become happy.

Vicki: Right.

Nancy: You and Billy Rose are happily married today . . .

Vicki: Yes.

Nancy: . . . but not because you pursued happiness. Ultimately it’s because you pursued Christ and holiness.

Vicki: Right. So the way I view this now is that God gave us an opportunity and used our marriage problems as the way, the vehicle to get to being more like God.

Nancy: And you had to be willing for your focus to be not on God changing Billy, but on God changing Vicki.

Vicki: Right.

Nancy: That’s a huge place to come to because I’m thinking of the many letters and emails that we get from our listeners who are so focused on the issues in their husbands’ lives. And you had plenty—cocaine addicted, living with another woman, just a kind of wild lifestyle—and you could have spent the rest of your life miserable and focused on Billy’s failures, but God said, “Let Me work in your life, Vicki.”

Vicki: Right. My quiet times have gone from sometimes an hour to some days three hours alone with the Lord, just in the desire to know His Word and to know Him better, and that, if I had to say one thing . . . if there was only one thing I could tell everybody it’s that reading the Word daily and spending time alone with God is the most important vehicle to a better marriage, and to a—I hate to use the word happy—marriage.

Every marriage requires a lot of work and has some times that are wonderfully spirit-filled and fun and joyful, and some times that are just not fun. Even today, even after all these years, we still have some times that just are not fun, and I wouldn’t say are happy.

And I still, Nancy Leigh, I still fall into the trap of wanting Billy to be different, and that’s a trap of the enemy, because what God wants me to want is Himself, more of God, not more of Billy being a certain way or my children doing, even being in full-time Christian work. God doesn’t want me to want that. He wants me to want Himself, and that’s where the change comes, I think.

Nancy: And that’s what God wants for many women who are listening to this program today. Vicki, if we could, I’d like for us to just take a moment and pray for those listeners.

Lord, I know that there are some who’ve been hearing this story over the last several days. The details may be different, but they’re saying, “I’m in a hopeless situation. I’m at that place in my marriage where Vicki was sitting on that beach years ago saying, ‘Is this all there is?’” They’re wanting out, wanting something or someone new or different.

Lord, You have put women in the marriage they’re in not to just to make them happy, but to make them holy, and I pray that You would be doing a work of grace and restoration and healing in the hearts of women who are listening today. Perhaps some of our men listeners are saying, “My wife doesn’t want this marriage to work,” and they’re wondering if there’s hope.

We get letters from both, but, Lord, You are the God who heals, the God who renews, and I pray that those who are longing to see You move in their marriage may come to You this day in a fresh spirit of humility and brokenness and surrender and say, “Lord, change me. Work in my heart. Sanctify me. Purify me. Use the pain and the pressure to make me more like Jesus.”

And then, Lord, would You intervene in lives, in marriages? The world needs to see that You are a reconciling God. We see Billy and Vicki Rose, and we see a reflection of Christ and His power to make all things new. So, Lord, would You do that?

  • Would You make new some marriages that are represented among our listeners today?
  • Would You give hope where there’s been despair?
  • Would You give a sense of confidence in You, and would You give a willingness and a courage and a faith to go on when it seems impossible and it seems so horribly difficult?

Oh, Lord, thank You that You are in the process of redeeming some other Vicki and Billy Roses. We ask You to do it with thanksgiving, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: A lot of wives have been praying with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, giving control of their husbands to the Lord. Many women can relate to the story we’ve been hearing this week from Vicki Rose. In fact, one woman responded to the interview we’ve been hearing.

She wrote: “This testimony has been an eye-opener for my life. If we obey God and have faith in what He said to us, He will work in our lives.” After she and her husband divorced, God started working on each of their lives. She told us that God used this interview with Vicki Rose “to let me know that nothing is impossible for Him.”

Nancy has seen so many women in situations like this respond with toughness and bitterness. She’s written a book that will provide freedom. It’s called Choosing Forgiveness. This book will help you identify areas of deep hurt, get honest about those wrongs, completely forgive through God’s power, and be free from the bondage of bitterness.

We’ll send you Choosing Forgiveness when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Your gift will help us speak to more women who need freedom and help in tough relationships, and we’ll say “thanks” by sending the hardcover edition of Choosing Forgiveness.

Donate online at ReviveOurHeartsRadio.com, or call us at 1-800-569-5959.

When a relationship is restored, there’s life and joy and hope. We all long for that, don’t we? Learn more about this tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

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

 

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