Revive Our Hearts Weekend Podcast

— Audio Player —

Freedom in Christ

Episode Notes:

These series make up today's Revive Our Hearts Weekend program:

"A Different Kind of Freedom"

"An Overflowing Love"

"For Such a Time as This in Los Angeles"

---------------------------

Dannah Gresh: Have you ever been in a place in life where you didn’t know what to do or where to turn? Here’s Liza.

Liza: It was dry. It was a desperate feeling. There was dissatisfaction. There was a longing. The general feeling would be dryness, just a dryness of soul.

Dannah: That is a hard place to be. Liza needed freedom. We’ll talk about where to find true freedom on this episode of Revive Our Hearts Weekend.

Welcome to Revive Our Hearts Weekend, I’m Dannah Gresh. 

Blair Linne: 

We have heard the voice of Freedom.
How He calls prodigal daughters out of darkness
Pulling them away from heavy-handed grasp of bondage.

Dannah: That’s spoken word artist Blair Linne from True Woman '14. She’ll be helping us understand freedom in Christ today.

At the end of most Revive Our Heart episodes you hear these words: calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. Over the next few weeks we’ll look at these three qualities. Today, let’s tackle freedom. Join me?

What does it look like to be that woman who is truly free? And just what is she free from?

Today we are going to hear stories from three women who have experienced true freedom in Christ. We’ll be joined by Joni Eareckson Tada, Liza, and Kesha Griffin.

And as we listen, I want us to do an exercise! We’re gonna try some active listening. Here’s what I want you to search for:

  • The sin or the chains that are holding each of these ladies back.
  • What happened after they repented to God?

At the end, well, I want you to be able to spot the chains or sin in your own life. I want you to be able to experience true freedom in Christ.

For many years, Joni Eareckson Tada has been a prisoner of sorts. You may already know her story, but I’ll just recap a little. Joni had a tragic diving accident in her late teens that left her a quadriplegic, a prisoner to her wheelchair.

She longed for freedom from that chair, even had her sister take her to a faith-healing service. But . . . she didn’t get what she was looking for there. And that night she started asking questions like: What kind of Healer, what kind of Savior, what kind of Rescuer, what kind of Deliverer would refuse the prayers of a paralytic? She was in a bad way, but I want you to hear it from her. Here’s Joni 

Joni Eareckson Tada: Soon a bitter root, a real spirit of complaining, began to take hold of my life. Nothing anybody did was good enough. Everything everybody did was wrong, and every hurdle I faced became a reason to feel sorry for myself. Most of all, Jesus, the One I wanted to feel close to, He seemed so far, so removed, so distant.

If I couldn't be healed, then I told my sister Jay the next morning, "I don't want to get out of bed. Just turn on the air conditioner, close the drapes, turn off the lights, shut the door, and leave me alone!" But even in that darkness—weeks I spent in that bed in the dark—I couldn't live with that kind of despair! I couldn't! There had to be something more.

So even then, in that dark bedroom, I would sing to comfort myself. One hymn most often I sang was a plea for help: "Oh, Jesus . . . Abide with me, fast falls the eventide. When darkness deepens; Lord with me abide. When other helpers fail and comforts flee, help of the helpless, (oh Jesus, I'm so helpless!) O abide with me."

And with that hymn I prayed, "God, if I'm not gonna die, then You please show me how to live. I cannot do quadriplegic. You show me how to live." It was my first prayer. I mean it was sincere and honest and from the heart. It wasn't long or wordy. It was short and sweet and so sincere.

Those were the days, then, when my sister would come into the bedroom . . . I would ask her to turn on the light, draw the drapes, and get me out of bed (which she happily did). And most often, during those days she would push me into the living room where I sat in front of a music stand much like this one.

She would push me in front of it, lock my wheelchair, plop my Bible on the music stand, put a mouth stick in my teeth, and then I would flip this way and that with my mouth stick, trying to make sense of it all. Of course, I was still interested in healing. I still wanted to know what the Bible had to say about it, and I found out.

In the first chapter of the gospel of Mark, there Jesus is performing all kinds of miracles long, long into the day and even past sunset. And the next morning the crowds returned—more sick, disabled people. Simon and his companions, they quickly go looking for Jesus, but He's nowhere to be found. Jesus had gotten up early that morning and gone to the top of the hill to a solitary place to pray.

Finally, Simon and his companions find Jesus, and they tell Him about all these sick and disabled and diseased people at the bottom of the hill, all looking to be healed. And what does Jesus say to them? In verse 38, He says, "Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come."

I couldn't believe that! I had to read it again. All those sick and disabled people, looking to be healed, and Jesus says, "Let's go someplace else." Uhh! How could He turn them away? How could He turn away people like me? And that's when it hit me. It hit me that it's not that Jesus did not care about all those people; it's just that their problems—especially their physical problems—weren't His main focus. The gospel was His focus.

The gospel that says, "Sin kills; hell is real, but God is merciful. His kingdom can change you, and I am your passport." And whenever people missed this, whenever they started coming to Jesus just to get their problems fixed, the Savior would always back away.

No wonder I'd been so depressed! I had mainly been into Jesus to get my problems and pain and paralysis fixed. Yes, Jesus cares about suffering, and He spent most of His time on earth trying to relieve it. But the gospel of Mark showed me His priorities, because the same man that healed blind eyes and withered hands also said, "Gouge out that eye, cut off that hand if it leads you into sin, if it leads you astray."

Oh my goodness, that's when I really got the picture. To me, healing had always been the big deal; freedom from this physical problem had always been the big deal. But to God, my soul was a much bigger deal. That's when I started searching for a different kind of freedom, a deeper kind of healing.

Psalm 139:23: "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and . . ." [sings] see if there be some wicked way in me. Cleanse me from every sin and set me free. I so want to be free!

And for the last forty-seven years in this wheelchair, that has been my prayer. And God has been answering, exposing sin and selfishness in my heart, reminding me of the many times I will fudge the truth or hog the spotlight or allow stiff-necked, stubborn pride to push me away from Him, putting worthless idols before my eyes. God has been answering that prayer, and He has been exposing in my heart the things from which I really do need to be free. And I am so far from being finished. I have such a long, long way to go. God is still searching. God is still testing.

Listen to the entire episode, "Squeezed by Life's Pressures." It comes from the series, "A Different Kind of Freedom."

Dannah: That’s Joni Eareckson Tada from the True Woman '14 conference. God’s not in the business of making us comfortable, He wants to change our souls. He wants to heal us of our selfish pride, our worthless idols, all of our sin. He wants to set us truly free. 

If you would like to hear the entire talk from Joni, we have a link at our website. Just go to ReviveOurHearts.com/weekend.

Blair Linne:

Remember how He resuscitates us when we are left improverished.

Dannah: Next I want to introduce you to Liza. She was an average believer working faithfully at a Christian ministry. But . . . she wasn’t happy. She felt like she kept doing the things that should make a Christian happy—serving God, doing great things for Him, producing more and more and more. But working harder didn’t get her the closer walk with God she desired. Soon Liza felt like she was shriveling up inside.

Here she is talking with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Liza: 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: 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: I’m thinking of another part of the Song of Solomon. Earlier, in chapter 3, where the bride in this story loses the sense of her groom’s presence, and she says, “On my bed by night, I sought him whom my soul loves.”

She knew she had a relationship with him, but she wanted his nearness, and she couldn’t sense it. She said, “I sought him but found him naught.” And that, to me, kind of describes where you were those months leading up to the months that you then spent on the park bench.

She said, “I will arise now and go about the city. I will seek him whom my soul loves. I sought him but found him naught.”

So she goes, and she tries something different, and she still doesn’t find him. And then some of the people around her misunderstand her, and they—it looks weird to them what she’s doing. But she says, “Scarcely had I passed them when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go.”

And I think of that when I hear you tell your story of how you weren’t looking for more religion, for more lists, for more to-do, but for Christ.

Liza: Yes.

Nancy: And to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.

Liza: Yes.

Nancy: And when you went and waited quietly and got quiet enough to really hear Him, that’s what He assured you of—not just from the Song of Solomon, but from other places in the Scripture.

Liza: That’s so true. And now, looking back, I see that dryness as Him drawing me, and I see it as such a gift. While in the middle of it, it felt so heavy, but now I see it as Him calling me in and saying, “I want to know you, and I want you to know Me and the depths of My love.”

And that’s really the reason for the dryness and the reason for the drought, to draw me closer to Him. So now on the other side of it, I see it as such a gift, as a good God wooing me towards Him instead of Him, from heaven, saying, “You’re not doing enough; you’re not doing enough.”

I have a completely different perspective on Him now than I did, and I’m so grateful to have come to that place of brokenness and to the park bench to really know Him like that.

And, Nancy, He used another Scripture. In 1 John 4:10, He said, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

In that truth in that verse, oh, what joy it was to hear that love isn’t me loving Him first. “This is love, Liza, not that you have loved Me well or have hung onto Me well or gripped Me tight. It’s that I have loved you and held onto you, and My grip on you is tighter than your grip on Me will ever be.”

And so, I think, in that season, I did let go. I understood the gospel, I think, maybe for the first time, in true faith, just letting go of my own worth and my own deeds before Him. And just accepting who He was and what He did on the cross for myself was really what was happening in that moment.

Listen to the entire episode, "Freedom from a Performance Trap." This comes from the series, "An Overflowing Love."

Dannah: Liza said in a lot of ways that she never moved from that bench. The kindness of God; He met her right there on that bench. Gently, He broke her of her performance trap, really an idol. And all the while reminding her of His love for her.

Blair Linne:

He is so giving
An eternal meal is here,
Because the Bread of Life if near.

Dannah: You’re listening to Revive Our Hearts Weekend, I’m Dannah Gresh.

Today we are spending some time together listening to stories of God delivering His daughters from sins and idols, from baggage and longings. Stories that paint the picture of freedom, freedom in Christ.

Friend, sometimes our feelings of hurt and pain and even resentment seem justified. Especially if we’ve been hurt badly. So we hold them tightly, sometimes for years and decades. 

This was true for Kesha Griffin. Today Kesha is a pastor’s wife. She guides women in Bible studies, she is a leader in her community. But for many years she harbored a secret that was eating her up on the inside. Kesha’s story of pain began when she was just a little girl. 

Kesha Griffin: Honestly, I don't have many memories as a child of being with my father. The memories that I do have are not pleasant ones—just tons of disappointment, tons of empty promises, tons of never coming through, never being a man of his word, him not showing up when he said he would.

So my memories of him are just not good. I believe my father left when I was five or so. 

He chose to leave the family. Unfortunately, he had a drug problem. All my years growing up I would say, "Well, this is his excuse; this is his reason. I'm giving him an out." But really, I was still harboring bitterness and unforgiveness toward him because I felt abandoned as a child.

Kesha: My father would try to pursue a relationship, but I would always kind of just brush him off, not really wanting to deal with him. He's been in and out of prison all my life. He would always reach out, maybe from prison through letters and calls. He has never just not been in my life. He's always been there . . . it's just that I wouldn't receive him.

Dannah: I just want to break into Kesha’s story for a bit and let you know that at church she was taking a group of women through Nancy DeMoss Wohlgemuth’s book Seeking Him, and God used that book to reach Kesha’s heart.

Kesha: The "Forgiveness" chapter, for me personally, had me in uncontrollable tears. I didn't realize how much unforgiveness I was harboring in my heart, specifically toward my father. It was the first time I had to deal with unforgiveness in terms of my relationship with my father.

It was if God stopped me in my walk and said, "You need to deal with this. You cannot move forward, now that you are aware of the deep-rooted issues that you have in your heart toward your father."

So once I was convicted of that (of course, after much prayer), I decided to be more open toward a relationship with my dad. So, practically, the "Forgiveness" chapter helped me to start building a relationship with my father.

It was as if one day the bitterness was removed, and I was able to be open to receive him into my life. I began to speak to him over the phone more; I would accept his phone calls. I would actually check on him: "How are you doing today?" And that sounds really strange, that I would even have to make that first step—to even care about his day. That was a huge thing for me.

So I would just make calls, text messages, and then in August 2015, my dad visited our church for the first time. That was a surreal day! I couldn't believe. (And when I think about it, it still doesn't seem real to me.) I went from not having any contact with him, not wanting to deal with him, ignoring his phone calls, to actually picking him up, bringing him into our home, and going to church with him! No one but God . . . amazing!

His relationship with the Lord is . . . I wouldn't say he doesn't have one, but I would say he needs to strengthen his relationship with the Lord. He doesn't really attend church often, or consistently, so that's kind of what I'm trying to encourage him to do.

Again, he has addiction issues he has to deal with, and he has hurts and pain and things he's dealt with within his own life. So I'm trying to push him toward Christ even more.

Forgiveness is freedom. I felt like a ton of weight had lifted off my heart, lifted off my shoulders. Guilt lifted off of my heart, because again, I was feeling hypocritical: "You say you love the Lord, you worship, you pray, you praise, but you're living this secret life of unforgiveness." The forgiveness definitely allowed me to be free.

Forgiveness is freedom.

I would say to any woman who's dealing with hurt or bitterness, to not be afraid to make the tough decision to deal with it. Once you face that hurt, there is freedom, but we have to make the first step. We have to have some courage.

It takes courage to deal with bitterness and unforgiveness and hurt. It's a scary place, because you have to become vulnerable. I think we tend to not want to be vulnerable; we're already in a hurt place. So I would say to that woman who's hurt, who's experiencing any type of unforgiveness or bitterness or anger for whatever reason—be courageous. Face it and truly let the Lord deal with her heart.

Listen to the entire episode, "For Such a Time as This in Los Angeles."

Dannah: Forgiveness. It’s hard, it’s not easy, but it clears the way for true freedom in Christ. Oh, thank you Kesha for having the courage to deal with the bitterness and unforgiveness. That’s hard work, but so rewarding.

Did you hear the common thread that wove through each of these ladies' stories? There was something holding each of them back in their relationship with God.

Joni only wanted physical healing and started to believe that God wasn’t who He said He was.
Liza loved performing but couldn’t see how much God loved her just as she was.
Kesha harbored resentment and unforgiveness against her dad and blocked the understanding of God's forgiveness of her sin.

These three ladies experienced true freedom when they:

  • First, realized what sins or idols they were holding on to.
  • And then, confessed and repented of those sins to God.

And their lives were never the same after that!

So, now you know what we mean when we say we're calling women to freedom in Christ.

Speaking of freedom, I know it might seem a bit early, but we're just about to celebrate the birth of the one who provided for our Freedom: Jesus! At least, that's what the end caps on the displays tell me what with their early Christmas decor for sale! I want to get more than my house ready for the season. I want to get my heart ready. 

Revive Our Hearts wants to help you fix your eyes on our Savior this season with our 31-day Advent card set. Each day’s card will remind you of God’s promises and His presence—helping you enter this next season grounded and calm, not frazzled. This Advent card set is yours when you give a gift of any amount to Revive Our Hearts.

If you have given to Revive Our Hearts or are considering giving to Revive Our Hearts, can I just say "thank you." Your gift is ministering to women across the world—through radio, podcasts, blogs, books. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to receive a note in our inbox from a sister in Christ who says “I needed this today.” Your gift is reaching countless women like her, like you. Please consider giving a gift today. It’s easy at ReviveOurHearts.com/weekend, or call 1–800–569–5959. Make sure you ask for the Advent card set.

Next week, we’re gonna talk through fullness in Christ. What does it mean to be full of Him? Do we act differently, talk differently? And how do we get His fullness? I mean, I know this concept is not in our everyday talk, so we might need some help. We’ll talk about it next week on Revive Our Hearts Weekend.

Thanks for listening today. Thanks to our team: Phil Krause, Blake Bratten, Rebekah Krause, Justin Converse, Michelle Hill. And for Revive Our Hearts Weekend, I’m Dannah Gresh.

Revive Our Hearts Weekend, calling women to Freedom, Fullness and Fruitfulness in Christ.

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

Support the Revive Our Hearts Weekend Podcast

Darkness. Fear. Uncertainty. Women around the world wake up hopeless every day. What if you could play a part in bringing them freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness instead? Your gift ensures that we can continue to spread the message that Christ is King and that the way to know Him is through His Word. Spread gospel hope! Donate now.

Donate Now

About the Teacher

Joni Eareckson Tada

Joni Eareckson Tada

Joni Eareckson Tada is the Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, an organization that promotes Christian ministry in the disability community. Joni hosts the short-feature radio program “Joni and Friends,” has written over fifty books, has received the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement, and has been inducted into the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Follow Joni & Friends on Twitter @JoniandFriends.

About the Hosts

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.

About the Guest

Kesha Griffin

Kesha Griffin

Kesha Griffin is a wife and blogger who is passionate about helping women know that the Bible contains everything we need pertaining to life and godliness. As a sexual abuse survivor, she seeks to give Christian survivors hope in Christ for their healing, freedom, and victorious godly living. She is the founder of Bible Thinking Woman, co-host of Kaleoscope podcast, and also has a Facebook support group for sexual abuse survivors within the church. Currently, she is pursuing biblical counseling certification from ACBC. Kesha’s greatest joy is supporting her husband as he serves as pastor of their church in Gardena, CA.