Revive Our Hearts Radio

What Is Your Top Priority?

Leslie Basham: When Gloria Furman gets discouraged by day-to-day busyness, she thinks of a prayer Jonathan Edwards used to pray.

Gloria Furman: He said, "Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs." If I don't see things through an eternal perspective, I only see the mess, I only see the burden, I only see the stretch marks, I only see the anxiety of all of these things. . . instead of seeing them in the light of, "History's going somewhere! And we get to be a part of that!"

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of A 30-Day Walk with God in the Psalms, for Thursday, October 11, 2018.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Revive Our Hearts is all about passing on a passion for biblical womanhood and revival. As I've spoken about these themes over the years, one thing that really excites me is to watch younger women taking up this baton—getting a passion to live out God's calling in their lives and then to pass along to others what they're learning.

Today we're going to hear from a couple of those younger moms. Gloria Furman has her hands full as a pastor's wife in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. (In just a minute we'll hear how that ministry opportunity came about.) Gloria's primary ministry in this season is as a wife to Dave and as a mom of four younger children.

Gloria was back in the United States recently for The Gospel Coalition's national conference. Our team caught up with her there, and my friend, Erin Davis, interviewed Gloria. Erin is the content manager for Revive Our Hearts and is also the mother of four little ones.

These two young moms are ministering in two vastly different locations . . . Gloria, in a fast-growing Middle Eastern city, and Erin, in the rural American Midwest. But you're about to hear how their mission is the same: to sit at the feet of Jesus every day, and then to invest in their own families (their husbands and children), and to serve God's kingdom in their communities while living out day-to-day life . . . then to pass on what they're learning to other women.

So no matter where you are, or what season of life you may be in right now, I think you're going to be encouraged by this conversation. It will help you keep your focus on what really matters in the midst of the busyness of life, and to make sure that your relationship with Christ is always your number one priority.

Now, here are Erin Davis and Gloria Furman, recorded at one of The Gospel Coalition national conferences.

Erin Davis: I'm here with Gloria Furman, who wrote Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full. My copy of it is all marked up, has sticky notes through it—it's just a gift to me as a mom. You have some unique challenges as a mom, in that you are parenting in the Middle East. Would you mind just giving us the real quick story of how you got there . . . however much time you want to give it.

Gloria: In seminary, my husband and I were hoping to move somewhere where we could serve among least-reached people in pastoral ministry. That kind of sounds like a misnomer by definition. "Least-reached" people are least-reached because they have no church. We didn't know how that would work.

While we were in seminary together, we heard a speaker challenge people that investing in the international church is a great way to make disciples who make disciples among least-reached people. One of the world cities that was the fastest growing in the 10/40 window at the time was Dubai.

So, through a series of connections and time and prayer and lots of fund-raising and talking to people about what it was we could do, we picked up and moved in 2008 with our baby girl. The other three children were born there. We moved to the Middle East and studied Arabic for a little bit, and then moved in to Dubai and planted Redeemer Church of Dubai five years ago.

Now we gather weekly, by God's grace, with people from sixty different nationalities, enjoy life together, and see more people reached through the local church.

Erin: What I love about that . . . There's this tension as moms. We have this high and holy calling to mother our own children and to make them a priority. But I think a lot of moms think, I can't do something for the Kingdom! I have these kids! God certainly couldn't use me or call me because I'm in this blurry [love that description] season of motherhood.

So, here you are mothering four young children and planting an international church. What about that has you running to the Bible for gospel answers to motherhood?

Gloria: Right! That situation that you just described! I feel like, Wow, that's really a lot! just listening to it.

Erin: Sure. It is.

Gloria: But I've seen no need for bifurcating my calling as a mother and my calling to make disciples of all nations. I don't see any kind of division in my own heart for that. My children are with me. I don't mean they have to be with me on my hip, but they're with me in all of that.

Erin: But that twenty-one-month old is, isn't he?

Gloria: Well, yes, but he's in the stroller, so there's that. The four-year-old would love for me to carry him on my hip. But there's no turmoil, I guess, in my heart when I look at the disciples in the church and in the community around me, because it's all one big thing. God hasn't called me to all these different things that tug at each other, and I'm always supposed to feel at war within myself.

God called me here, but I always feel that it is an "and." My children–at least in my context, which I understand is different in the West. But in the East, where I serve, my children are a door for conversations every day. They love, adore, coddle children here. So, if I don't have my kids with me, I'm rebuked!

"You come to get a haircut—where is your baby?"

"I kind of thought I'd do it by myself."

Erin: "I needed a minute to get my hair cut!" Sure.

Gloria: So, they just open doors where I am.

Erin: Well, I'm not so sure that's an East/West thing. I notice when I take my young sons to the grocery store, for example, people notice them, and they want to talk about them. And what I've also noticed is, no matter what age they are, they want to tell me about their own children or their own grandchildren. And it is an opportunity to have gospel conversations.

Sometimes we don't see it that way, but our children do create doors to have gospel conversations with others, no matter where you live . . . and to reach out to other moms who are all in that blurry season.

Gloria: One of my favorite things to do, when they want to talk about my kids and their own kids, is to bring up, "What do you believe about why motherhood exists?" And that has opened so many doors, because they think, and sometimes they have a ready answer.

Sometimes they'll reply, "That's nice. What do you think?" And I'm ready to say, "Let me tell you where this came from. This actually isn't about us. This is about a Person—Jesus Christ.

"Really!? How is motherhood about Jesus Christ?"

And I say, "Well, let me tell you!"

Erin: Well, tell us! Because I think, as moms thinking about that baseline question, either we don't know the answer, or we've forgotten the answer in the task of motherhood . . . then that's when we kind of go into orbit.

Gloria: Yes. Every day I forget.

Erin: So, what is the purpose? What was God's design in creating that role?

Gloria: God's design for motherhood is to bring glory to God's Son, Jesus Christ. There is every reason, in the Bible, to look back on God faithfulness in giving us life in the first place, and then in sustaining our lives in the midst of our sinfulness, and then in giving us new life in Christ.

Ultimately, coming home—in the new heavens and the new earth—we have glorified, resurrected bodies, and we live forever with Him without the presence of sin! So I'll kind of do a little walk-through the Bible and point them backwards (and it depends on how much time, practically speaking, that we've got).

Most people from different world religions have some kind of concept of Genesis, of how things started—first man, first woman stories from their different faiths. I explain that I'm a Christian, so everything I understand about the world comes from the Bible—God's authoritative and sufficient Word.

In the Bible I read that God created the heaven and the earth, men and women in His own image. He created them to fill, multiply, and subdue the earth. They can't do that by themselves. But then they sinned, they disobeyed God. They said, "I don't need your law. I don't need You!" And they wanted to go out and do it on their own.

So God has to deal with this cosmic treason because He's holy!

And most people from other world religions will say, "Yes, God is holy!

So then I say, "He must justly condemn and judge."

And they say, "Yes! He must!"

And I ask, "But wait! Then why are we here?"

And their response is, "Huh. Why are we here?"

"Because God promised mercy. He promised the woman would have a child—the seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent. And that is the Man in whom we hope!"

And they ask (with anticipation), "Who . . . is . . . that . . . man?"

"Jesus is that Man!"

I don't often get to go through the whole Old Testament and help them anticipate who Christ is. Sometimes I'll just jump ahead and say that we've identified who that Man is. It's Jesus! He identified Himself as the Son of God, which is the point of contention for almost everybody—except for Christians—when I identify Him as the Son of God, because He self-identified as the Son of God.

And then we'll go from there. This is what His life looked like, here's what He did. He went to the cross. He's paid for sin. He's risen from the dead. He's reigning right now. Currently, He's sustaining our lives and He's patient, waiting for us to repent and believe. So that's the opportunity you and I have today, to live lives of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, waiting for Him. It's not about us.

Your children belong to the Lord; you belong to the Lord. So all of your motherhood, every mundane task you can imagine (doling out vitamins, scrubbing toilets, stepping on Legos, doing homework), all of these things are worship.

Erin: Folding socks, that is the worst.

Gloria: Finding socks!

Erin: Finding socks! This is 2015. Can we not come up with a better system than the sock bucket? But we don't have a better system at our house. It is mundane! There's no sense trying to gloss over the fact that a lot of it's mundane.

Gloria: Right! And if you go to other places in the world, they have literal, back-breaking work like, "I'm going to go carry water so my children can live." That kind of motherhood is mundane work. When we look at all of those things in light of who Christ is, and His gospel, we see that it's worship. It's not about us.

And we know instinctively, when we make our motherhood about us, we become competitive, cynical, angry, bitter, and ultimately inconvenienced. "Ugh, these life-giving image-bearers . . . everywhere!" Instead of, "This is an awesome privilege that God has sustained life and He is currently asking us to give it back to Him in worship."

Erin: And, I think, as we look at the Bible, motherhood has always been a part of the narrative. Eve doesn't get her name, "life giver," until Adam comes on the scene after she's taken the nibble of the forbidden fruit and he says, "Her name shall be Eve, for she shall be the mother of all living."

He didn't say, "You blew it, Woman!" The first thing he does in that moment, he gives her (or changes) her name, by faith, and says she will be the mother of all living. Then the Bible goes on to describe that she gave birth to all these children.

Gloria: Isn't it incredible that she gave birth at all? Because her husband just sold her out ("It was the woman You gave me!"), and now they're procreating.

Erin: Right. And every time she has a baby we kind of get these glimpses into Eve's birthing room. She says, "With the help of God, I have brought forth a man." Even though her intimacy with the Lord was severed in some ways, she still knows that this is only with God's help.

And I think as moms, if we really understand the way the cosmos is ordered, I'm not doing anything to grow that baby in my womb. I take some prenatal vitamins, and try not to eat sushi for nine months . . . but it's with the help of the Lord.

Gloria: [laughs] That's not too hard for me!

Erin: You don't like sushi? I don't understand . . . Anyway, then Scripture says, "Then the people of the earth began to call upon the name of the Lord." So we see in Eve kind of this first missionary . . . which helps me as a mom. I say that my children are an unreached people group. They don't come into the world knowing the Lord.

Gloria: No, faith isn't in your genes!

Erin: So, I'm the missionary sent to tell them about the Lord.

Gloria: To the living room, to the nursery, to the kitchen. . .

Erin: To the dining room table, to the carpool . . . That's right. So, don't you think if moms can see their role as a missionary, as a teacher, as a discipler of their children . . . It can't do anything about the laundry, but maybe it will take our eyes off of it or give a widening of our lens effect?

Gloria: Or we can see through it! This laundry exists because God has given life! I don't deserve it. I don't deserve this life. He is the only One sustaining me in this, and He gets the praise for it. It helps my heart with the grumbling when I look at the results of life in my house. I see it this way, "This is the result of life. That mess? That is the result of life."

One of my favorite funny moments was walking into my kitchen. One of my daughters had emptied all the low-level cupboards and built this thing. What I saw was a horrific mess. Oh no! But she beamed, "I made a potato chip factory!" I thought, Huh? We have a bag of potato chips already in the pantry! She showed me how it all worked, and it was like some kind of Rube Goldberg machine.

I thought, This is a five-year-old in God's image who is subduing the kitchen and making things and creatively doing that. That really helped me.

Erin: Did you freak out?

Gloria: She had to clean up the mess. I said, "Nora, I think that is amazing, and I love that God gave you such creativity in that. I'm just shocked because I never would have seen a pot like that or a dish towel in that way, but you saw it, and you can do it. I think that's awesome! But we've got to clean this up."

Erin: I loved how you described your kids as image-bearers. You were seeing the impression of God in her, that creativity and problem-solving, those things that are qualities of God.

Gloria: Right!

Erin: There's a story I love about a famous artist that destroyed the living room with paint and markers—he was creating. His mom walked in, she paused for a minute, and then said, "You are a fantastic painter!"

And he said, "That's the moment I became an artist."

Where, if as a mom, she would have walked on the scene and exclaimed, "What have you done?! You've ruined the carpet!" (I'm sure he had to clean up the mess.) As a mom, it's a real challenge for me to try and see the image of God in my children and encourage it.

Gloria: Jonathan Edwards had this really pithy, profound prayer. He said, "Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs." And I've adopted that. "Lord, please stamp eternity on my eyeballs, because if I don't see things through an eternal perspective, I only see the mess, I only see the burdens, I only see the stretch marks, I only see the anxiety of all of these things, instead of seeing them in light of the fact that history's going somewhere, and we get to be a part of that."

God has very specific things for mothers to do in that, in making disciples of all nations and teaching them to obey everything that He's commanded. But the "stamp eternity on my eyeballs" thing has saved me from seeing just the temporary. The temporary is that overwhelming and the painful things can be that overwhelming, and then they can color everything you see.

I've seen fear color everything for mothers—living and parenting out of fear.

Erin: There's no doubt it's terrifying. It doesn't take much to think of all the things that could go wrong with your child, whom you love so much.

Gloria: Right, very real things, and then things do go wrong. And what do we tell that mother when things go wrong, and everything she's ever been taught has been, "Happy, clappy. It's so sweet." But it's painful. Eternity, I think, renders all of our perspective into things we can't see.

So we fix our eyes on things we can't see and cling to Christ in that, instead of clinging to the tangible little things and hoping in only those things that we can hold onto.

Erin: Yes. Practically speaking as a mom, how do you stamp eternity on your eyeballs? How do you fix your eyes on eternity when the temporal just seems to pull so consistently and so strongly?

Gloria: That's a great question. My mind is filled with all these practical things. There are lots of things. I think it starts with the things you choose to put in your mind. "Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs," is a prayerful posture of your heart, that God would answer that prayer.

I know He's delighted to answer prayer requests where we're asking, "Help me see what You see." Filling your mind with things that are true, lovely, of good report—all of those things that are commendable in the sight of God. We are tempted to be gravitationally pulled in to the course of the world, where we're fed the world's values.

One area where I see a temptation for myself is "clicking." The online websites are designed to keep you "clicking" your little mouse. Just keep clicking, and they'll feed you these little "candies." So what I need to do is stop clicking (if I need to cut my finger off, do it) and feed myself the Word of God, because that's only thing that is going to sustain me—no matter how many how many cute panda videos are posted.

Erin: Not blog about the Word of God or post about what other people are experiencing, not that those are bad, but they're not a substitute for getting into the Word of God.

Gloria: So filling your mind with truth shapes your eternal perspective. Good books that will accompany that and help you so that when you're actually reading the Bible, you can see what it is you're seeing. I don't know how many moms I've talked to who say, "I read the Bible, and I don't get it . . . so I just kind of give up."

Erin: What do you say to that mom who says, "I've tried it, or I am trying it, the whole reading the Bible thing, and it just didn't feel living and active (as Hebrews describes)," or "I just didn't understand what I was reading," or "I was so tired and bleary-eyed, I was just muddling through it." What would you say to that mom?

Gloria: I'd say one of the best resources you could give to yourself is to find a good book on biblical theology, even on biblical theology on some kind of topic. Make the commitment to read and digest that book. Understand the big storyline of the Bible, so when you do have those snippets of time in your day as a mom—the five minutes you're waiting for your kid to get out of class, the ten minutes you're folding laundry and listening to the Bible on an audio recording, or the few minutes of silence around the table you have as the children are listening to you read—you'll get so much more out of those small pockets when you understand where it all fits inside the big picture, and you can understand the significance better. That really helps me.

Erin: Are there specific books you'd recommend?

Gloria: I point people to Graeme Goldsworthy's book According to Plan, biblical theology books. You could do a Google search on some great publishers and find lots of biblical theology books. Is there a topic that interests you? And just make a commitment to read the three-hundred pages—which is a big deal, but it's going to pay off—so think of it as an investment.

Get Bible study tools as well. Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin. If you have some Bible study tools you can dig into these things a whole lot more effectively than if you are just fiddling around with like a "plastic fork." You've got some real equipment in Jen's book, I think.

Erin: Yeah. I don't know if you agree, but sometimes you just have to fake it 'til you make it. If you have that discipline of studying and learning and going to the Word every day, I think there will be a point (because we know that the Word of God doesn't return void) that it's going to begin to kind of stick.

As you begin to understand the greater context . . . I think at some point a switch is going to flip for that mom, if she will persevere.

Gloria: I would say that persevering would be key. Thinking of it as persevering instead of faking—that would seem artificial. But, "I'm persevering in this!" That's real. In the Psalms, too, you've got a lot of guys who are writing psalms and crying out, "Lord, how long?" You'll understand that you are not weird or abnormal or struggling with a temptation that's unknown to man (you're not alone in that).

Erin: And what those psalmists were saying was, "I don't hear Your voice, Lord. I don't understand. If You're speaking to me, I don't hear it." Which is what a mom is saying who's saying, "I'm trying to read the Bible, but I'm not hearing the voice of God in it. Or if I am, I don't understand what I'm supposed to be doing with it."

Gloria: Yes. Stay with it.

Nancy: That's Gloria Furman. She's been talking with our friend Erin Davis about the importance of persevering in seeking in God in His Word, even when you're in the middle of a busy season of life—as I am right now. So I need this reminder as well.

Erin and Gloria recorded that conversation at a national conference of The Gospel Coalition. I hope what you heard today encourages you to seek the Lord as your number one priority—to sit at His feet every day. Then to embrace the opportunities that He gives you to put His glory on display, even in busy seasons when it may feel like all you're doing is mundane daily tasks.

Erin and Gloria have shown us what it's like to carry out those day-to-day tasks, as a mom, while seeking the Lord for opportunities to tell others about Him. Gloria writes about staying close and connected with the Lord in her book Treasuring Christ While Your Hands Are Full. Don't you love that title?

And if you're in one of those "hands are full" kinds of seasons, as most of my friends seem to be, I hope you'll take some time out to read this book and make sure that Christ is your number one treasure.

And, maybe you know of a young mom who would benefit from this book. I hope you'll get her a copy as well. We'll send you Gloria's book Treasuring Christ While Your Hands Are Full when you make a donation of any size to Revive Our Hearts.

A few weeks ago I was at my home church, and a young mom came up to me. She's expecting her fourth child, and her oldest child is still just three years old. She said to me,

I've been wanting to write you a note, but I don't have a lot of time these days. I've been wanting to thank you for the Revive Our Hearts podcast, the daily broadcast, that I'm able to listen to in this really busy season of life when my hands are full because I can listen while I'm doing other tasks around the house. It's like a lifeline to me. At this season, I don't have a lot of friends I can have fellowship with and draw from. So thank you for being a mentor to me through this ministry!

I'm so thankful that friends like you support this ministry faithfully month-after-month so that we can keep this message coming into the lives of women, like the one who spoke with me at church. When you make a donation to Revive Our Hearts this week, we'd like to send you a copy of Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full. Be sure to ask for Gloria's book when you call us at 1–800–569–5959, or visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com and you can make your donation there.

Tomorrow, Erin Davis and Gloria Furman will be back with us, continuing their conversation about how a busy mom can find time to spend with the Lord. I hope you'll be back.

Lord, in the midst of what, for many of us, is a really busy day, I pray that You will draw our hearts to Yourself; that you will give us the appetite, the desire, the hunger to spend time at the feet of Jesus; to know You, to love You, to worship You, to put You first in our lives.

Give grace today, Lord, I pray, to every listener—in whatever season of life, with whatever burden they may be carrying. Meet their needs, by Your grace. We pray it all in Jesus' precious name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you keep Christ as your number one priority. It is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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