Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Peace That Comes from Surrendering Control

Season:  Best of 2017

Episode Resources

Listen to the series: "Control Girl."

Listen to the series: "An Overflowing Love."

Listen to the series: "God's Beautiful Design for Women."

Leslie Basham: As a wife, Shannon Popkin faces a lot of temptation to control her husband, but she’s discovered the joy of giving up that control to the Lord.

Shannon Popkin: God has so blessed me every time that I let my husband lead, everytime I choose to surrender. I didn't want it any less, but God shaped my heart, and He gave me contentment. That's what He does when we surrender to Him.

He gives us hope. He gives us security. He gives us contentment. He restores our relationships. He brings the peace, the joy that we are hoping for when we try to take control. He gives us all those gifts when we do the opposite of control and surrender.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of The Quiet Place, for Thursday, December 28, 2017.

Who is in control? I think we are all challenged with that question every day. Are we in control of our lives, our relationships, and our circumstances? Or is Jesus in control? Today we’ll explore that question as we review some of the top Revive Our Hearts series in 2017.

We’ll hear clips from a few series that had a big effect on the lives of our listeners. To begin, we’ll go back to a conversation Nancy had with Shannon Popkin, author of a book called Control Girl.

Shannon: Before I was married, I don’t think I realized that I had control issues. I think because I could manage my little life the way I wanted. I was a teacher, and I would come home after work, and I would take a nap (I loved taking a little nap!), and then I’d eat a little snack for dinner, and then I would go out.

I was really, really social. I was in Bible studies, and I was a youth leader, and I’d meet friends for coffee. And if you needed somebody to stay out until one in the morning and talk with you, I was your girl, because, you know, I had my nap coming up the next day! Right?

And then, after I met my husband, it was my first time of trying to kind of give up some of that control. I would schedule our dates (or our weekends)—top to bottom—with social activities. He worked out of town and would only be in our town every other weekend, and so I would pack it full.

Friday night when he got off the plane, I had somewhere where we were going to be, and then Saturday morning, and we were meeting other friends for lunch . . . After a couple of months of that, he said, “Time out. Enough socialization! I’ve had my fill.”

And I thought, What!? Can there be enough of socialization? And so he proposed a one-night-per-weekend social calendar—and that was new to me.

Nancy: So he just was really wired differently and wasn’t as energized by being out with people as you were.

Shannon: He was drained by it, yes. And so, he was willing to compromise on his end, but he was asking me to as well. I was still starry-eyed and enamored with him, and so I just decided to do more without him, socially.

But then when we got married, well, it was really complicating things. As a new wife, I wanted to have dinner on the table, but I couldn’t have our dinner ready and still take a nap . . . so I had to give up my nap!

Nancy: Big adjustment!

Shannon: Oh my goodness! And then I couldn’t stay out late, and it was just cramping my style.

Nancy: And as you made those adjustments, it began to affect your attitude toward your husband and to have some negative effect on your relationship.

Shannon: Yes. I was sort of resentful, and I was frustrated. Now that I had him—I loved him!—but I was trying to “fix” him, because I thought the problem was him. 

There’s one night that stands out in our early marriage, where I was really frustrated with him and feeling like I needed to control him. We had been invited out to dinner by some neighbors, to go to their house for dinner, and I was so excited. 

Nancy: You got your social fix.

Shannon: We were new in the area, and I was so concerned about making new friends. We didn’t know anybody. We’d just started at our new church. So we went to their house and enjoyed this wonderful dinner. 

Let me back up and say that my husband, at this point, was building his career. He gets up really early in the morning—four-thirty in the morning. 

Nancy: Okay, my husband does, too. And that may explain why your husband wasn’t so excited about late nights out with friends.

Shannon: This is true. He was exhausted by Friday nights. He’d put out a lot that week, and so he was ready to wind down. After dinner, when we went into the living room, we’re having this wonderful engaging conversation. I looked down at my husband, and he’s kind of sitting on the floor next to me, patting the neighbors’ dog.

And when I looked down, I noticed that his hand was kind was just kind of limp on the dog’s back. I noticed that his head was at a strange angle, and I thought, Oh, no! I think he’s asleep. So I just tried to start talking and being even more animated so that I could keep their attention.

I thought maybe they would just glance at him and think he was oddly, strangely staring at their dog, but I tried to keep all the focus on me. But then somebody asked him a question, and I nudged him with my foot and, of course, he kind of went, “Uh . . . gurgle . . . gulp . . .” and said something unintelligible. 

This beautiful evening with our new neighbors came to this screeching halt. They said, “Oh, you must be exhausted!” and they ushered us to the door. And so, between their driveway and our driveway—which is about five driveways—I packed a lot in!

I started belittling him and criticizing him. I said, “You embarrassed me! I cannot believe that you fell asleep in the living room of our neighbors! This was important to me!” I said, “From now on, mister, you are going to guzzle coffee every time we step outside the door!”

I think that there was a lot for me to learn at that point. I was so fixated on his faults—or what I perceived as his faults. I think if I were to let God speak softly to me in that quiet moment (it wasn’t so quiet, because I was yelling) . . . But if I would have let God talk to me, I think He would have said, “You know what? This man is a good, godly man, and he is going to provide for your family and lead your family. But let’s focus on you for a moment. Because this desire that you have to take control of people and situations and make it all turn out right—according to your little perspective of how Friday night should go—well, this is truly the problem. I’m already bringing circumstances and situations in your life to help you work on this problem that you have with control.”

Leslie: That’s Shannon Popkin, author of a book called Control Girl. She’s been talking with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth about the temptation all of us feel to grab control of our relationships. To hear that whole series, visit our website, ReviveOurHearts.com. Click on “Resources” then “Programs” and then find the series title “Control Girl.”

We’re reviewing some highlights from Revive Our Hearts from 2017. Next, we’ll hear part of a series called, “An Overflowing Love: with Liza.” For a long time, Liza felt like she always had to earn God’s favor. She’d go to sleep every night feeling like she hadn’t done enough. She was busy doing good things, but doing them for the wrong reason and nearing burnout. Let’s listen to Liza’s conversation with Nancy. Part of the best of 2017 here on Revive Our Hearts.

Liza: I was trying so hard. And I think that’s maybe how people would describe me during that season of life, “She is just trying really hard.” I was putting all of my effort into it.

But at that point, I didn’t know to put all of my effort into knowing Jesus. I was just putting all of my effort into the things, into the things I felt like He required of me.

Nancy: I’ve heard you describe this as feeling your inside was shriveling up, and then how that began to affect you in other ways.

Liza: When He talks about rivers of living water flowing out of us, I would not describe that as my insides. It was shriveling up on the inside for a couple of years.

About four years ago, that kind of worked its way to the outside, as it does, as the inside comes out. I started just showing signs of burnout and stress, and I kind of started shriveling up on the outside as well. People could see that all was not well.

I started talking to trusted people in my life and saying, “What is this?” I was just more deeply crying out to the Lord saying, “I know there’s more than this to following You, and I so much want to experience that, but I don’t know how.”

At that point in my life, when I’m just shriveling up on the outside, I did know that performance was kind of an idol for me.

Nancy: Which is really the opposite of a grace-filled life, where there’s nothing we can do to earn or deserve or merit the love of Christ. So, realizing that, you made what was at the time a pretty drastic change.

Liza: It felt drastic at the time.

Not knowing what else to do, I decided to take a fast from all of the things that I was doing, all of the things I was doing to try and please the Lord. That just meant that I went to work, and I also went to church on Sundays, but other than that I quit all of the things I was doing in the evenings—whether it was youth group or Pregnancy Care Center or mentoring or whatever. I just said, “I may be back. I may not be back. But right now, I just need to seek the Lord.”

Nancy: So you weren’t throwing out the faith. You were on an intentional pursuit to know Christ of Christianity.

Liza: So much! I knew that the things weren’t bringing life, weren’t bringing intimacy with the Lord, weren’t bringing joy. So I had a pretty good idea that He would be okay if I set those things aside just to seek Him.

Nancy: I’ve heard you say you desperately wanted Christianity to be more than an exam you never passed. And don’t you think, for so many people, now as you look back on this experience and look around, that Christianity could be summed up as doing the right thing and doing a lot of it?

Liza: Yes, I do think so. And when we come at it that way, the problem is that it’s never enough. As you pursue Christ, and if you’ve done everything that you’ve seen around you, there’s still this feeling of it’s not enough because if our standard is Jesus Christ, then we have a long way until we reach that.

Nancy: Exactly.

Well, as you’re explaining this, I think a lot of our listeners are saying, like their hands are in the air, and they’re saying, “That’s me! That’s what I’ve experienced!” They’re resonating with or relating to what you’ve just shared.

So, tell us, when you started into this kind of drastic change in your schedule, what did you do with those evenings?

Liza: Well, as I was entering into this time, it was actually a little bit scary because I realized, “Oh, if I don’t do any of the things that I’ve been doing to kind of ease that weight of my soul, what if it just gets weightier and weightier and weightier? What if the things I’ve put my identity in, doing all of the right things, if that’s what it means for Liza to be a Christian, and I don’t do those things anymore, what does it mean for Liza to be a Christian? What does it mean underneath all of that for me to know Jesus? What if I don’t know Jesus?”

Those were the questions really heavy on my heart. So it was a little bit of a scary time for me. I knew I was kind of taking a leap.

Nancy: A free-fall there!

Liza: Yes, and what if He doesn’t come through? What if there isn’t anything under all of this?

So I decided to sit on a park bench in the evenings with just my Bible and journal. And people, knowing my frantic pace, would say, “Liza, what are you going to do with all that time?”

And I would say “I have no idea, but I don’t know what else to do.”

But this was my desperation, my brokenness before the Lord, just asking Him to come.

So, that very first night on the park bench—I’ll never forget it—Jesus met me there. He just came, and instead of giving me a list of rules and better ways I could please Him and better priorities, He just came and told me that He loved me. He said, “Liza, I am not perpetually disappointed with you. I am perpetually pleased with you because of Jesus. And you already have an A on the test, so you can just go and enjoy Me.”

He spoke to me deeply from the Song of Solomon in those nights, especially in the Song of Solomon 4:7. There He said, “You are altogether beautiful, my love. There is no flaw in you.”

And as He unpacked that and just said, “Because of Jesus, when I look at you, there is no flaw in you.”

He just spoke that in a way that I understood, and I started to believe it deep in my heart that Jesus loved me.

And, Nancy, we never moved past that in the time on the bench. We never moved on.

Nancy: So it wasn’t just one evening you were doing that?

Liza: No. It’s like He didn’t have anything else to tell me except that He loved me and accepted me. And that thrilled my heart. Oh, that was like water to a thirsty soul. And I’ve never gotten over that. It changed me from the inside out.

Leslie: That’s Liza from a Revive Our Hearts series we aired earlier this year called “An Overflowing Love.” You can hear that series at ReviveOurHearts.com

Listener: This morning I was on the way to a doctor's appointment. One of many it seems these days.

Leslie: One listener wrote to us after hearing Liza’s story on Revive Our Hearts.

Listener: I lost my husband at age forty on August 16, 2016 to a rare and aggressive form of cancer. I have been worn out, worn down, and my hope was dwindling. Trying to be there for my two girls AND take care of myself AND grieve. It's been more than I could take. I was feeling very overwhelmed and less than adequate.

Liza (from "An Overwhelming Love"): We can be assured that if we are in Christ, He looks at you, and He smiles. He is easy to be with, and He is drawing you even now. That dryness of soul is a drawing toward Himself.

Listener: As I listened to you this morning on the radio, Jesus spoke to my heart and reminded me I don't have to be all, everything my girls.

Liza (from "An Overwhelming Love"): He will continue drawing your heart until you’re close to Him, experiencing His presence. So accept that as a gift from Him and lean into Him.

Listener: I just need to allow Him to work in and through me. Then, things still won't be perfect, but I won't feel like I am carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. Thank you for being willing to open up and share what Christ did in and through you. I pray continued blessings on you and your ministry!

Nancy: I’m so blessed by the way the Lord used Liza’s story to encourage that woman, on that day, right when she needed to hear it. Revive Our Hearts was available for that divine appointment because listeners like you gave to make it possible. So let me just remind you why your gift today is so important. God is opening up amazing opportunities for us to impact women all over the world.

A large portion of the giving that fuels Revive Our Hearts for the year ahead comes in the month of December. It's gifts given last year that the Lord used to bring about changed lives—such as the one you've just heard. So your gift right now, this December, can make a significant difference in the lives of women around the world. Women desperately need to hear the truth that will set them free.

You can help us share that truth by giving to Revive Our Hearts today. There’s only a few days left in 2017, and this is our last opportunity to meet an $800,000 matching challenge a group of our ministry friends have offered. We’ve been asking the Lord all this month to help us meet that challange, and then to significantly exceed it. Some of those matching funds are still on the table, so your gift today can be doubled! This matching opportunity expires at midnight this coming Sunday. So would you ask the Lord if He would have you give a special gift at this time to help meet that need? Your gift will impact even more lives in 2018.

Here’s how you can contact us. You can visit online at ReviveOurHearts.com. You can call us at 1–800–569–5959, or you can write us at P.O. Box 2000, Niles, Michigan, 49120. Remember, due to the holiday falling on Sunday, your letter will need to be postmarked by Saturday, December 30. 

Leslie: Thanks Nancy. Today we’re reviewing some of the top Revive Our Hearts series from 2017. 

Listener 2: I am so impressed and majorly blessed by Nancy’s teaching on Titus 2.

Leslie: This listener is referring to Nancy’s series, “God’s Beautiful Design for Women” which we heard earlier this spring.

Listener 2: I have been so challenged and convicted by the teaching on loving my husband and children, and by the many other things I have learned. Thank you so much for the teaching. I have been blessed!

Leslie: Let’s listen to some of that teaching that had such a big effect on this listener and so many more.

The Christian woman is to be distinguished because what she is teaching to others is content and a message that is good and healthy and wholesome and helpful and edifying, as opposed to that which is corrupt or useless.

I see here a contrast. She’s already been told just a couple of phrases earlier that she’s not to be a slanderer. She’s not to use her tongue to spread lies. But instead, she is to teach what is good.

She’s to spread the truth, to speak the truth. She’s not to use her tongue to tear others down, but to build others up. She’s not to speak what is corrupt or useless, but she is to speak what is good and what ministers grace to others.

I think as I meditate on this passage of the verse in Proverbs 31, verse 26. It says that the woman of virtue—the wise, godly woman, the woman who fears the Lord—“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” Or as the NIV says it, “faithful instruction is on her tongue.”

So when we come to a passage like the one we did several sessions ago about not slandering—and I’ve spent a long time meditating on that passage—it’s easy to think I just won’t open my mouth; I just won’t say anything.

But God says no, you are supposed to say some things. You’re supposed to use your mouth not to slander, but you’re supposed to use it to teach what is good, opening your mouth with wisdom and having the teaching of kindness on your tongue.

This instruction that Paul gives through Titus to older women suggests that as older women—and I’ll say we here—we are to be intentional. This is not just if you feel like it or if you happen to be a woman who feels called to be a teacher or if you have seminary training.

This is something we’re all to be intentional about as we get older. You are always teaching. Your life is always teaching. Your example is always teaching. Your words, your conversations are always teaching. Your life is always teaching.

The question is are you teaching what is good, or are you teaching things that are not so good? You are teaching. You need to be intentional about teaching what is good.

Here again, we see that this woman teaches in two ways. She teaches by the example of her life, and she teaches by her words of exhortation.

Paul goes on a little bit later in this chapter to say to Titus, “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works” (v. 7).

A model. The word from which that word model in the English comes from is a Greek word. It’s the word that means "a type, a pattern."

You ladies that sew, you know what a pattern is. It’s a picture. It’s the template. It’s what you want the piece that you’re cutting out to look like. You get a picture on that pattern.

I’m telling you a lot more than I know about sewing. But you see the picture on the pattern and you say that’s the model, that’s the pattern, that’s what you want this to look like.

Paul says to Titus, your life is supposed to be a model. It’s supposed to be a template. It’s supposed to be a picture of what others’ lives should look like. Paul is saying the same thing to the older women. You teach by the example of your life.

As you’re reverent in behavior, as you restrain your tongue from slander and evil speaking, as you are self-controlled, spirit-controlled in your appetites and your passions and you don’t overindulge your flesh, you are teaching what is good to younger women who are coming behind you and following in your steps.

It’s the heart behind the apostle Paul when he could say to the Corinthians, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Our goal as we become older women is that younger women could look at our lives and they could pattern their lives after us. If they’re doing that, they will be becoming like Jesus, because we’re becoming like Jesus.

So I ask myself sometimes if the women that I’m leading through the ministry of Revive Our Hearts and in my relationships—if those women talk the way I talk, if they shop the way I shop, if they eat the way I eat, if they pray the way I pray, if they trust the way I trust—what will their lives look like? If their lives never surpass the example of my life, what kind of disciples will I be producing? What kind of disciples will you be producing?

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. We just heard a short clip from a series she taught earlier this year called “God’s Beautiful Design for Women.” You can hear it for yourself by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow we’ll continue re-visiting some of the top Revive Our Hearts programs of 2017. There are hundreds more programs just like these in the archives at ReviveOurHearts.com. I hope you’ll take advantage of this resource and download even more programs that will help you continue growing in freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. 

Nancy: And don’t forget what we talked about earlier in our program about how you can double your impact in women’s lives by participating in our matching challenge. That opportunity is only available for a few more days—your gift will only be doubled if we hear from you by this Sunday. We don't want to have to leave any of those matching funds on the table. So please, go to ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is proclaiming the truth that sets women free. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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