Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Solution to Your Deepest Needs

Leslie Basham: When Toni Lee began worshiping God, it led to very practical actions.

Toni Lee: I had a really horrible bitterness toward my mother. I had not seen my mother for years. It says in the Bible, "If you’re going to worship Me, you’re going to turn around and see if you have any resentments out there, and you go clean them up."

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, May 21.

Nancy: Yesterday we heard Part 1 of a message from Toni Lee. Toni’s actually been a sweet friend of my family for a number of years, since she came to faith in Christ. As she shared yesterday about the first time she heard the good news of Jesus Christ, it was at an outreach that was hosted by my mom in her home in Florida.

I’ve loved watching the way the Lord has used my mom as an instrument, in not only helping Toni come to faith, but grow as a young believer. Yesterday, Toni explained how she had grown up in a wealthy family and experienced a lot of worldly success in life.

She felt like she had reached all her goals—to gain respect and recognition, to have plenty of money, to have a nice-looking respectable family. But the more that Toni looked like a success on the outside, the more empty she felt on the inside.

Toni shared this testimony at an event sponsored by the Christian Embassy. They had invited a number of women who were dignitaries and ambassadors, involved in the United Nations. Toni challenged these women from twenty-five different countries to think through what really matters in life.

We’re about to review a little bit of what we heard yesterday, and then we’ll pick up the story from there. Here’s Toni Lee.

Toni: In January 2000 I was back in Palm Beach, still looking for the new, better thing to do, because nothing satisfied me. I was restless, irritable, and discontent. The trophies on the outside were getting larger, but I was really, really restless. I was invited to a luncheon, kind of like one of these dinners, were there was an assembly of really nice people.

I was really suspicious, because don’t forget, I come from the Armani warrior-type world, where you win by slicing people’s legs and heads off. These people were nice, and I’m wondering what’s the matter with them, because I’m super suspicious. My antenna are up, and I’m looking at them, scanning the group, thinking, They’ve all got to be fakes. Nobody can be consistently this nice all the time.

It was at least an hour into this reception, and they were still nice. I usually break down after about forty minutes (I get “Grinchy”). So I’m looking around, and there was this wonderful woman up at the front. She was talking about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Now, I’d been exposed to different religious activities growing up—everywhere—because I lived everywhere, all over the world, probably like all of you. So you have activities that are going on all the time, and you think, That’s good, that’s great, wonderful for you—not for me.

But nobody had ever talked to me about a personal relationship. It was always a lot of rituals and rules and must-do. I’m the little, rebellious, defiant one, thinking, If there’s a new rule, I’m going to break it. I may look nice, but I’m going to break it anyway.

The lady up front said she found a relationship with a Man named Jesus. This was the first time I’d heard anybody say anything about a personal relationship. She said God loved me and had a plan for my life. Now, don’t forget, I’m the one with the mask—the poser—looking good on the outside but dying on the inside.

I was thinking to myself, How can anybody really love me if they knew who I was behind this mask? I was dying on the inside, because when you hear something that provokes a truth in you, you chew on it. Then, she went on to say that I was separated from this loving God, this relationship, because of my self-focused priorities and my willful choices.

I was thinking to myself, Well, would He still love me if He knew all the mistakes that I had made? How could He ever forgive me? because I came from having to be perfect. I’d often hid my mistakes, because I was taught to look good on the outside, and you may not show anything about what your insides are like.

Then this woman went on to describe the relationship with Jesus as the bridge back to the personal relationship. You have God, Jesus is the bridge, and then I would take Jesus’ hand to bridge back into a personal relationship with Jesus. I was thinking, I wonder, if that’s really true, why hasn’t anybody told me it’s that simple?

I’ve watched people donate money, I was in the Azores and they were crawling on their knees in worship. There were all sorts of things that I had seen as far as actions on the outside, but nobody had said to me, “This is a personal relationship you choose. You’re separated because of your willfulness. Jesus is the bridge back, but the hitch is, you have to ask Him in to your life. He’s a gentleman; He’s the woo-er.”

I loved that, because I never had a man that had courted me lovingly, with flowers, like she was describing the Man, Jesus, who courts us all and loves us individually as His precious created women. So I sat there and thought, Okay, well that’s good. So, what do you think I did? I forgot about it. Absolutely. I went charging out the door—it’s not hard to see my pattern with all my detours, is it?

I come sliding in, and I have this incredible experience, and I go racing out with my self-will. I have another one of these wonderful "my son walks," and then I go out with my self-will again. I was so busy. It was all about me. There’s nothing else except me.

A few months later, my whole world came crashing down. I had a huge divorce, all my houses went with my ex-husband; my social network stayed with him, too. All my friends went with the wealthy one. I had signed a prenuptial that said everything was his, nothing was mine.

I don’t know if you have prenuptials in your countries, but it was really crushing, because I came out of that thing with nothing. I had started a dot-com company, a computer company. So at the same time I was coming out of that divorce with nothing, my dot-com company went from zero to gazillions of dollars, on paper. I had lots of stock, and I was really wealth. But guess what happened to all that paper?

From riding the crest of, “I’m it. I’ve got all this money. Forget all of you. I’m going to buy my way around the world. I’m in the money now.” (Do you remember that song?) Then my stock went from nine dollars to five cents a share.

So I was tanked, literally. Everything in my belief system—power, prestige, money, marriages—everything that was going to make me happy, didn’t. There was another woman during this time that had invited me . . . she was from that same study that I had gone to hear about this relationship with Jesus.

I called this woman my “tree frog.” Have you ever seen them in South America? I don’t know if you have them in your countries. They are little, petite tree frogs. They have giant eyes, and they have these enormous digits, and these digits have little sucker-pads on the bottom of them. Their overriding assignment is to stick to whatever they’re assigned to stick to, and you cannot shake them off you.

The “tree frog’s” name was Allie. Allie would call me. She’d met me once, at this study, the day I heard that woman on stage. Now I’ve still got this dialer friend who wants to be my friend, calling me to invite me to dinner . . . to come to church . . . “Why don’t you come for a luncheon?” Every time I saw Allie’s number come up, I’d push delete.

I’d answer her and say, “I’m too busy.” What was happening was, I was going to these events like parties or black ties or luncheons and my “tree frog” was there. I’d see her. I’d pretend I didn’t see her, and she’d come up to me. She’s petite and tiny, and she’d say, “So how are you?” Her huge, gray eyes would dilate with delight.

I’d say, “I’m fine, just fine.” I was trying to shake her off. So, finally, just to get rid of her—she had invited me to church—I said, “Okay, I’m going to go with her to this foolish gathering, whatever it is, and I’m going to get her off my agenda . . . cross it off, never do it again . . . I’m going to go with her this once.”

I walk in and I hear once again the message of love and forgiveness, in a kind, faithful God, who answers and hears and loves each one of His people individually and personally. I started to cry because I realized everything I had run my system on, kind of like a computer with a virus—I was the virus with myself. Here’s this computer that has this flawless design on it, and then there’s me—crashing around with my virus, wrecking all the plans of God with my self-will and my, “I’m the design I made for myself.”

I remember crying that night and saying a very desperate prayer of a broken-hearted woman, “God, I give up. I absolutely give up. I ask you to take control of my life—forgive me for the mess I’ve created.” I had a worm that used to walk around my heart at night—when the light goes off and the mask is by your bed, and you get the questions: “How come I’m not happy? What’s the matter with me? I’ve achieved all this success, and I still don’t feel like I have my purpose in life. How come I don’t have a relationship with my mother? What’s the matter with me?”

All of those kinds of questions kept coming up for me. That night was the night I stepped across the line to ask the Lord Jesus to take control of my life, forgive me, change me, give me His heart. “I give up.”

It was really like saying, “You know what? I give up. I’m fifty-two years old. This has been quite a run, and it’s a mess. You take it now that it’s a really good mess. I come in with my mess, and let’s see if You can fix it.” One of the results, right away, was my attitude in my heart, because all of the sudden, things got very tender for me on my inside. I wasn’t so hard-hearted anymore.

I had like this hope that I couldn’t understand. I was reading the Bible, and there was a verse about having to clean up any resentments. I had lots of resentments. I don’t know if any of you have ever experienced having a resentment, but I had a really horrible bitterness toward my mother. I had not seen my mother for years.

In the Bible, it says, "If you’re going to worship Me, you’re going to turn around and you see if you have any resentments out there. Then you go clean that up. Where you’ve made a mess, you go clean that up, and then you come back." And I thought, Oh no, that means I have to go ask Mom for forgiveness! But I know that being obedient is really smart.

I’ve been a virus. I know what a wreck I can make of my life. So I’m going to go to my Programmer, the Lord, and He’s going to fix this. That was June. I called Mother up and invited her for a November dinner. (laughter) I didn’t want to rush this reconciliation.

So, what I did was, I figured I’d have a lot of time to change my mind. I started praying about my heart attitude and all the rest of it. That day in November came. Nothing had really happened in my heart at all. Mother was pretty lame at that time. She was in her eighties. I could hear the nurse wheeling her up the driveway. I was holding onto the door, and I got frozen to the door.

I was thinking, Oh, God, You promised me . . . You promised that if I did what I was supposed to do, which was go in and clean up my mess, You would help me. But I have to tell you, there is no change of heart going on here. I am mean, I am angry, and I was holding on.

I knew that the next squeak meant she was going to open the door. And a thought came as loudly as if somebody had said it with a trumpet in my insides, and I heard the thought, You can love your mother, if for nothing else, because she gave birth to you, so that you could be here on earth to serve Me.

And I opened up the door, and it was if the lenses in my eyeglasses changed completely. Here was this tiny woman whom I hadn’t seen in years. I just grabbed my mom and wrapped her up in my arms. It was like I had never realized how much I had missed her.

A few months later, my mother had to have a massive hip surgery. Then she had an impacted bowel. She was really sick and dying, and they didn’t know if she’d make it. She was in one of those little blue caps and the little blue gowns, and by this time she was a really little lady. She wasn’t five-foot-ten anymore. She had shrunk somehow.

I remember, I went to her bedside in the hospital. I scooped up this little lady and I said, “Mom, it’s my turn to tell you once again how much I love you. I’ll be right here when you come out of surgery—I promise you.” I have to tell you, for a daughter to have that kind of huge adjustment in her life—to open up my heart so big—because I had no more stones and walls and blocks up . . .

So that was one of those evidences, to me, that I have a long way to go. I’m discovering a lot about how God loves His women. As I travel around the world now, I serve as the hands and feet of Jesus, just serving.

I know that God is a global God. He loves His women. We’re precious in His sight. We’re not invisible to Him. We count, just as we are, where we are, because He made each of us. He knows the hairs on our heads. He knows the whispers of our heart. He knows everything; He has plans for us, and they’re good.

I wanted to give us all an opportunity to pray, because the gift He gives us is the gift of forgiveness and eternal life, and we have that through His Son, Jesus. So if you all would be quiet just for a minute, let’s pray this, quietly, where you are.

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for forgiving my mistakes and the stubborn choices I’ve made. Come into my life; open up my heart to You. Make me the kind of person You want me to be. I trust You. You will always be there for me. I know You love me, and it’s in Your Name I pray, amen.

Nancy: Perhaps God’s been speaking to your heart today, and you just prayed that prayer with Toni Lee, placing your faith in Jesus Christ. If that’s the case, we at Revive Our Hearts want to do anything we can to help you grow in your new-found faith.

So, please, would you give us a call and let us know that you have trusted Jesus today, and that you want to take the next steps to grow as a child of God. The number to call is 1-800-569-5959. We’d be so thrilled to hear from you, and we’d love to send you a resource, at no charge, to help you get started and begin to grow in your walk with the Lord.

I think that Toni Lee’s testimony is a reminder to all of us to make sure that we’re going to the Lord to meet the deepest needs of our lives. Toni tried filling her life with money, with status and recognition, and she found it all to be empty. How many times, even as believers, are we tempted to turn these things into idols?

I think Toni’s message is an important reminder that nothing and no one can satisfy our lives apart from Jesus Christ.

O Father, how I thank you for the beautiful testimony we’ve heard over these past couple of days. As I know Toni Lee, and I get emails from her and I hear her excitement about Jesus and how He has totally changed her life—and I think of how she calls my mom, “the woman who introduced me to the Man who changed my life . . .” Lord, thank You for that journey You’ve had her on.

Thank You for giving her the gifts of repentance and faith, and thank You for the way You’re using her now to introduce others around the world to the Man who can change their lives. And Lord, I thank You for the way You’ve been speaking to the hearts of some listeners over these past couple of days, and for some that You’ve been drawing to faith in Jesus Christ.

I pray that You would seal that commitment, that surrender, in their hearts, and help them to begin to grow in that faith. Lord, thank You that You’ve been speaking to all of us about what things really matter to us, and about our dependence and reliance, sometimes, on things of this earth.

The prayer that comes to my heart is that one we find in Psalm 73, where the Psalmist said, “Whom have I in heaven beside You, and there is nothing on earth I desire beside You.” O Lord, we want that to be the prayer of hearts—that no one and nothing on this earth would mean anything to us, compared to what You mean.

You are everything, for time and for all of eternity, and for that we give You praise, in Jesus’ holy Name, amen.

Leslie: Revive Our Hearts is able to bring you stories like the one you heard today, thanks to listeners who support the ministry. It’s also how we’re able to send free material to those who are seeking what it means to follow the Lord. If you believe in what God is doing through Revive Our Hearts, would you consider supporting the ministry?

When you do, we’ll say thanks by sending you the CD Hidden in My Heart, vol. 2. When you get this CD, I think your heart will be calmed and encouraged by the Scripture set to lullabies. Ask for Hidden in My Heart, vol. 2, when you donate by phone. Call 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Donate there at our website, and you’ll be able to request the CD.

When Joni Eareckson Tada looks back on the diving accident that left her paralyzed, she says, “God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves.” She’ll explain what she means tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

And to end our time today, let’s listen to one of the tracks from the CD I’ve been telling you about, Hidden in My Heart, vol. 2.

Song from CD:

I will hide you underneath My wings
I will hide you underneath My wings,
I will hide you underneath My wings,
Through the darkest night.

I will hold you close,
I will keep you safe and warm,
I will hide you underneath My wings.

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

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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