Revive Our Hearts Radio

Come Away and Rest, Day 2

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Leslie Basham: Carrie Gaul found herself in a doctor's office.

Carrie Gaul: He said, "Carrie, you were never designed to work 24/7. God didn't design you that way."

I said, "Oh, no, no, no. You don't understand. I'm not working. I'm ministering, and I love it! And if you could just get me back to the place where I want to be, then I can re-engage in what I want to do.

And this godly, believing doctor looked at me, and he said, "Carrie, the Sabbath is not a suggestion."

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of A Place of Quiet Rest, for Tuesday, July 25, 2017.

Yesterday, guest teacher Carrie Gaul described a ball-and-chain type of guilt and condemnation she was pulling around. Today, she'll pick the story back up. She sensed that the Lord was calling her to take a break from busyness and spend a day alone with Him, but she was reluctant.

Nancy will set up today's teaching, but first, she's sharing something that happened just before coming into the recording session.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Somebody came into my office and said, "There's a young man out in the lobby who would like to speak with you." And then they told me his name. This is the son of dear friends of my family that I had known almost all of his life. I hadn't seen him for almost twenty years. He's got a sales job and was traveling through and realized I lived in this area and stopped by to see if he could say hello, and I was just astounded.

It was so amazing to hear this young man, well, he's not as young as he used to be, but he's younger than I am. He grew up as a missionary kid in a solid Christian home, strong church background, and went to Christian college. I haven't really known him in his adult life, so I didn't know where he was spiritually. We just talked for five minutes. We just hugged, and I said, "I can't believe . . . it's so good to see you."

He said, "I've had a conversion! Five months ago, God transformed my life."

I mean, the guy's just glowing! He can't get enough. He's just so full of Christ.

I said, "How did it happen?"

He said, "Failure. Failure. I just hit rock bottom."

I don't know what all that involved. I didn't get long enough to talk to him because we were getting ready to start up this session.

He said, "I came to the bottom—failure—and God found me."

His wife is still running from the Lord, and so we just prayed, "Lord, would You pursue her?"

He said, "God pursued me."

So I said, "Lord, would You pursue her as You pursued his heart?"

And so God uses these things that we think of as slavery and balls and chains to actually be a means many times of bringing us to Himself, bringing us to the end of ourselves.

That's why I'm so glad that Carrie Gaul is a part of our team here at Revive Our Hearts, and that she's ministering to us as a guest teacher these couple of days to talk to us about how Jesus wants to deal with those balls and chains in our lives.

Carrie, you've written a study on the book of Philippians that I want to recommend to our listeners. It's called Joy in the Midst.

I just had a woman come up to me and say, "You might not want to tell people that if they ever lead this study, they might find all kinds of circumstances happening in their lives that make them need the Lord."

She said, "I just wanted the joy part. I wasn't thinking about "in the midst" part."

And I won't tell you all she said to me that happened in her family while she was leading this, but God knows what it takes to get us to Himself.

This is an eight-week interactive study on the book of Philippians. It's a great resource. And when you send a gift to Revive Our Hearts of any amount to help this ministry, ask for the Bible study Joy in the Midst by Carrie Gaul, and we'll be glad to send that to you.

Carrie, thank you for writing this study. Thank you for teaching us this week. But most of all, thank you for loving the Lord and leading out of your life and your walk with Him. Share with us what God's put on your heart today.

Carrie: Thank you, Nancy.

Well, we concluded our time in the last program with Jesus surrounded by His disciples, the twelve of them feverishly downloading the details of everything they just experienced in this intense time of life. They'd encountered incredible, amazing, astounding stories of life change as they had boldly proclaimed the gospel of repentance. People were being healed, probably physically, emotionally, relationally. Others were being set free from demonic oppression and bondage and captivity that had held them for years in their life.

Their joy had to be almost uncontainable as they recounted the glorious details of everything they had said as they had gone in obedience. They had responded to the gospel, and then they had gone in obedience to share that message that had transformed their lives—the lives of the twelve disciples—with others.

But their joy that day as they sat around Jesus' feet was tainted a bit with the devastating grief and confusion, having buried the headless body of John the Baptist, their friend and co-laborer and partner in the ministry. He was gone. He was martyred for proclaiming the same truths that they were. And questions and confusion and doubts and fears had to be permeating their minds as they sat around Jesus that day. This was not what they had expected.

The intensity of life, the intensity of ministry was threatening to overwhelm them. But then we saw the Savior so tenderly and compassionately and graciously invite them, beckoned them, really, to come away by themselves to a secluded place and rest a while.

We considered personally how we might respond in the midst of our own often harried lives that we live were we to sense the Savior say to us, "Come away and rest a while."

In April of 2012, that became more than just simply a rhetorical question in my own life. I sensed the Lord prompting me that day in April to simply spend a day alone with Him. To say that I was hesitant to obey would be a profound understatement, though it had been a regular habit of my life for a number of years to go away for a day with the Lord with my Bible and my journal and my praise music and just spend the day alone with the Lord.

That had been a regular habit of my life for a number of years. Several times in the year I would do that, and I couldn't wait to do it. I looked forward to those times away with the Lord. I anticipated the times when I could spend time with Him in prayer and in His Word.

But during the two years prior to April of 2012, I had become increasingly weighed down by the ball and chain that we began talking about in yesterday's program—a ball and chain that lived in my life and really weighed me down in many ways. It was a ball and chain of discouragement and confusion and defeat. Every area of my life seemed overshadowed in that season with a dark cloud of doubt and fear and confusion.

Almost daily I would wake up to a crushing fear that I had miserably disappointed my God; that I had lost favor with Him somehow; that I could never be the woman that He wanted me to be; that the ugly, shameful, self-absorbed, sinfulness that I knew existed in my own heart and that I so despised had somehow caused me to become distanced from my Savior.

Though I'd been a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ since I was fifteen years old, I had never once doubted my salvation up until that time. I have dear friends who wrestle with the assurance of their salvation, and it breaks my heart; it grieves my heart for them. But I had never known that reality. God had so incredibly lifted me from the kingdom of darkness and transformed me into the kingdom of light when I was fifteen years old that I just never doubted it . . . until this season. And in this season, when a barrage of doubts and fears and confusion would continually pummel my mind, I doubted even if I really belonged to the Savior.

Though I would have told you confidently, even during that time, that God's love for you was unwavering, I somehow couldn't quite believe it for myself. Even the Word of God that I so dearly love and so treasure, even when I opened the Word of God at times, it was as though it spoke to me in echoes of condemnation and accusation that just assaulted my mind.

The ball and chain in my life seemed to impact every area of my life during that time.

Physically, I was a mess. I would sit in front of a blank computer screen for hours on end and produce one sentence. And that's not a good thing when your job includes the fact that you have to produce and write letters to people and respond to them.

Relationally, our family was in the midst of a very difficult season.

Emotionally, I cried more tears than I ever dreamed were possible.

And spiritually, though I longed to hear the voice of my Savior through His Word and through His Spirit, the heavens were strangely silent. It was though my prayers seemed to be bouncing off the ceiling, and they weren't going any farther.

Interestingly enough, as this unrelenting fog of hopelessness seemed to settle over my mind, I pushed harder. I worked harder. I strived harder. I did everything I could to pick up this ball and chain in my life so I could run the way I wanted to run. But it continually weighed me down over and over and over again.

But I didn't have the sense to stop because I began to go back into that old way of thinking that I have to strive to measure up to what God desires of me; that in order to gain His approval, I need to do this and that and the other thing. And I went back into that old rut of thinking, and I began to live in light of that lie.

I even went to a doctor because I was such a mess at one point, and the doctor looked at me, and he said, "Carrie, tell me about the white space in your life."

And I looked at him like many of you are looking at me here today, and I said, "I don't know what you're talking about. What white space?"

And he said, "I believe that, that you don't know." Then he said, "Carrie, you were never designed to work 24/7. God didn't design you that way."

I said, "Oh, no, no, no. You don't understand. I'm not working. I'm ministering, and I love it! And if you could just get me back to the place where I want to be, then I can re-engage in what I want to do."

And this godly, believing doctor looked at me, and he said, "Carrie, the Sabbath is not a suggestion."

I heard his words, but I didn't heed them. I didn't listen to what he said. I agreed, but I didn't really take it to heart and begin to walk in that truth. And the miry pit that I was in, the ball and chain became increasingly weighty in my life.

My sweet, engineering, logical husband spent hours and hours listening to me, reminding me of the truth. I can't even count the number of times he would say, "Carrie, what would you say to another woman?" But, you see, I knew what I would say. I knew it in my head. But I could not seem to get that to connect in my heart.

I have precious friends who patiently walked through those dark seasons of my life with me. They prayed. They spoke the Word of truth to me. I pray that you have those kinds of friends. If you don't, begin praying today that God will give you one. We need friends who will come alongside of us and not pat us on the back and say, "It will be okay." We need the truth of God's Word spoken into the circumstances of our lives so that we get back up.

I had those kinds of friends. God gave me those friends. He surrounded me with them, friends who would call me in the morning and tell me the Word of God which would get me going about an hour, and then I would need another dose of that same Word of God.

I have a precious friend (she's in the room today) who, when I was in a fetal position on the bathroom floor, saying, "I don't think I can do this anymore. I cannot do it anymore," she was on the phone with me saying, "Carrie, Carrie," and she would repeat the truths of God's Word to me over and over and over.

I don't know this for sure, but I suspect this strongly, that periodically my sweet husband would call that precious friend and say, "If you will just take her for a day, I will re-engage tomorrow, but I've got to have a break. I've got to have a break."

I was a mess. I'm fifty-two years old, but I never experienced anything like the darkness of that season. So when I sensed God saying to me, "Come away and rest for a while," I hesitated. I feared. To be honest, I wanted to run in the opposite direction. I had a thousand "what ifs" that ran through my mind.

  • What if I can't hear Him speak to me through His Word?
  • What if I don't know what He's trying to tell me? 
  • What if I walk out of there, and I'm really no different than I was when I went in to meet with Him? 
  • What if I fail again?

Though trembling in fear in that season, I've walked with the Lord long enough to know that obedience brings sweet blessing. I've also walked with Him long enough to know that I do not trust my own heart. So I told some of those friends that surrounded my life what I sensed God prompting me to do, and I asked them to hold me accountable. "Don't let me not do this. As much as I don't want to, keep pushing me until I do this."

And so I scheduled a day and asked a few friends to pray. As the day drew near, a sweet, precious friend of mine, Dawn, asked me how she could pray specifically for me. She came to my cubicle here in the office, and she said, "Carrie, I know Friday you're going away. How can I pray specifically?"

She doesn't remember that I physically grabbed her, though I wanted to. So if I didn't, it was inside of me to do that. I wanted to grab her and say, "Pray that I'll know what to do. Pray that I'll know what books to take. Pray that I'll know what sermons to listen to. Pray that I'll know what messages to listen to." I was intense.

And the look on her face was somewhat confounded as she looked at me and said, "Carrie, maybe He just wants to tell you that He loves you."

Tears streamed down my face, but inside I screamed, "No! No! No! Don't you know I'm unworthy? Don't you know how I've struggled? Don't you know the doubts and the fears and the confusion in my mind? Can't you see the ball and chain that's in my life? I can't go into His presence like that."

I guess I saw these chains as an obstacle to God loving me, and somehow I felt like I needed to get rid of them. I needed to clean up my act. I needed to figure it all out. I needed to get all my ducks in a row, you know? I just have rowed ducks in my life, but they never stay in a row.

But I felt like, "If I'm going to go in His presence, if He's prompting me to come away with Him, then I need to get my act together before I can do that, before I can ever deserve His love."

In fact, if you'd asked me in April of 2012 what I would need to be equipped for the journey the Lord was just about to take me on, I would have given you a list a mile long: Get my life in order, be a better wife, be a better mother, do all of these things. That's what I would have told you. Help me get rid of these chains. That would have been on the list.

You see, in April of 2012, I didn't know that two months later I would be diagnosed with cancer. I didn't know, but my God knew, and He knew exactly what I would need to be equipped for the journey that He was about to take us on.

First Chronicles chapter 12, is one of my favorite chapters in the Old Testament. It talks about the sons of Issachar later in the chapter and how we need to be sons and daughters of Issachar today, those who understand the times and know what people should do because they understand the Word of God.

I love that chapter. In the first part of that chapter, it talks about the mighty men of God who were coming to David at a time of war. They were preparing for war, and they were coming, gathering unto David, and it says that those men were equipped.

And before I go into any situation, I like to know that I'm equipped. Don't you? What I thought I needed, what I would have thought I needed to be equipped for a journey called cancer really had very little to do with reality. What I really needed was the tender, compassionate, gracious reminder of my Savior's love, of the truth of who I am because I'm His daughter, because I'm hidden in Christ, because I'm accepted in the beloved.

So I went. I went away for a day, hesitantly. Balls and chains still firmly attached to my life. I went away. And, my friends, nothing mystical happened that day. I didn't hear a voice. I didn't hear an audible voice, but I met with the King of kings. I sat at the feet of Jesus who said, "Come away and rest in My love."

And over and over again, through His Word, through His Spirit, through the music that would play, He just said again and again, "Carrie, I love you. I love you. I loved you while you were yet dead in trespasses and sins. I can never love you more than I did then, and I can never love you less. I love you."

And by the end of that day that I had been so hesitant about entering into, I didn't want to go home. I wanted to build a tent and stay right where I was, in the presence of the living God.

Oh, precious friends, I do not know what Jesus is saying to you today, but I know He's speaking. I know He's speaking. He's always speaking to our hearts. He's so relational. He's all about intimacy. He wants a relationship with you that's intimate.

I know this: Whatever He's saying to you, He loves you, and He wants you to know that. He wants you to believe it in the core of who you are where His love becomes the sieve through which you see everything, because if you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you're no longer condemned. Scripture says He delights in you. Your sins are forgiven—past, present, and future.

Nancy: Well, that's my friend, Carrie Gaul, inviting you to rest, to sit at the feet of your Savior, and to just know that He loves you.

We're breaking in part way through that message from Carrie. Tomorrow we'll hear the conclusion of her teaching, and we'll also hear from a dear friend of mine who was in the audience that day who had a terminal cancer diagnosis. She has since gone on to be with the Lord. That day I put her on the spot, and she stood and shared a personal testimony about how God was giving her rest and peace and joy even as she was walking through the valley of the shadow of death.

Now perhaps you long for that kind of peace and rest and joy that we've been talking about, but you're just not experiencing it. Well, I hope you'll get a copy of Carrie's workbook called Joy in the Midst. This is an eight-week study of the book of Philippians. And as you study this book, Carrie will show you some important insights and help you dig into this little New Testament epistle for yourself and ask some good questions. Through this study, you'll see why deep, genuine joy is possible even in the darkest places of life.

When you donate any amount to support Revive Our Hearts, we'll send you this helpful study, Joy in the Midst, by Carrie Gaul. Your donation at this time is important to us. It will help us continue bringing you this kind of teaching, and you'll be partnering to help us speak life-giving truth to women who may be in those dark seasons of life.

So be sure to ask for Carrie's study on the book of Philippians when you call us at 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. We'll send one of Carrie's book per household with your donation this week. Don't miss this opportunity to experience authentic joy no matter what circumstance you may be facing.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. You can see Carrie's teaching today, as well as listen. You can find the video version at ReviveOurHearts.com.

When Carrie Gaul is going through a time of suffering, she thinks about her suffering Savior.

Carrie: That's why cancer can be a gift. That's why a difficult marriage can be a gift. That's why a rebellious child can be a gift. Is it hard? Yes! Would you choose it? No!

It means that if it comes into our lives, because we're His, because we're His child, if He allows it into our lives, then He will use it for His purposes in our life because He suffered.

You're not going through anything that your Savior hasn't gone through. You're not experiencing even half of the pain that He suffered for you.

Leslie: She'll show you how to take on that perspective next time on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to give perspective for times of suffering. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.

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