This is from today's Revive Our Hearts you even listen to here.
At Revive Our Hearts, we’re marking our 10th year of broadcasting. Over those years, listeners have heard from Kathy Helvey many times. She’s offered practical advice in living out God’s Word in tough seasons of life.
We’ll hear a recording Kathy made with a group ladies in 2007. This group had just heard Nancy teach through the book of Habakkuk. We’ve revisited that classic series as part of our 10th year anniversary. And as part of that series, we’ll hear Nancy talking with Kim Wagner, Holly Elliff, Maria Johnson, and the late Kathy Helvey.
Holly will begin.
Holly Elliff: I have to tell you as I was first of all reading through the book of Habakkuk and then during this study on the day, I think, beginning in chapter 2 where you started talking about Habakkuk climbing into the watchtower to wait for God, I had this vision of myself tying to climb the tower and all these little people grabbing my ankles and saying, “Mom, wait, wait, wait.” [Laughter]
I have a bunch of children. Literally, I sat there thinking, "Would I be able to get up in that watchtower and say I’m going to sit here until God speaks?" Then I thought, well, "I could maybe do that like at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning." It would be quiet enough. It was just almost comical as I thought about myself trying to get in that posture.
Nancy: . . . of listening to the Lord and waiting on Him.
Holly: . . . saying I’m going to sit here until God answers. I know God has a way for me to do this, but it was a pretty comical picture.
Nancy: So as a mom, how do you get alone with the Lord? How do you get still and quiet and let Him speak to you.
Holly: For me, literally it is sometimes 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning when it’s finally still and quiet and I know there’s a good chance that nobody’s going to be waking up for a while. That’s when I can get to Him. I’ve found that even just a few minutes in the midst of my day makes a huge difference.
Nancy: I know, Kim, you have very busy days. We were just talking about how you’re at a season of life where your days are so full. How do you get that time to just really listen to the Lord?
Kim Wagner: I have to have that time. That’s how I get that time. The Lord taught me several years ago that if I did not meet with Him first . . . that’s my sustenance. That’s the only way that I can operate is by meeting with Him first thing. I know Holly’s time is late at night. For me, I have to meet with the Lord first thing in the morning.
Holly: Actually, see mine’s earlier in the morning than yours.
Kim: Right! Mine’s just about two hours later than yours. But I told my friends, you don’t want to be around me until I’ve met with the Lord because He needs to deal with me first thing in the morning.
Really, that is the sweetest time for me of my day, to really go to Him, lay out my heart before Him and just seek Him, ask Him, what in my heart do You need to deal with? How do I need to surrender to You? Then to intercede for others that He is bringing to my heart and mind as I’m just seeking Him before I get into a time in the Word.
I’m a pastor’s wife, and probably the first ten years of being a pastor’s wife, I had a quiet time with the Lord pretty typical of probably most Christians. I would do it one day and go another day. I remember pulling out a journal as we were moving from one pastorate to another.
Going through the moving boxes, I pulled out one of my spiritual journals. I remember thumbing through it and saying, “Oh, wow, this is good. The Lord met with me here October 24. That’s a good word. That’s interesting.” I go to the next day, October 25, and then I go, November 24? What happened between October 25 and November 24?
The Lord really used that to convict me that there were several days there missing. All through that journal I could tell, it was very sporadic, my times of meeting with the Lord. I started to wonder, “Father, what did you want to speak to me on those days when I didn’t stop and meet with You? What did You want to teach me that I missed out on?”
That wasn’t enough to convict me. It took about a year later, I guess. We were living in Indiana at the time. I was traveling to Indianapolis to minister to someone in the hospital. As I’m driving along just going my merry way to minister for God, the Holy Spirit so faithfully spoke to me and said, “You’re going to minister to someone, but You did not meet with Me this morning. You didn’t seek My face first.”
Me in my prideful, arrogant, flippant way said, “I’m meeting with You, God. I’m listening to Adrian Rogers right now on the radio.” God very clearly and faithfully spoke to me and said, “No, you did not seek My face this morning. You did not meet with Me this morning.”
There’s so much in our lives that gets so hectic, with children, with responsibilities, with people needing to be ministered to. We can let all of those things crowd out the most important thing. I’m so thankful for Luke 10, an example of Mary who, yes, there was a lot of busyness going on.
Martha was doing a lot of good things, a lot of needful things. Those men needed to eat, but Mary was doing the most important thing. For me, I’m not saying it’s the same for everybody, but for me, God has shown me that I must begin that in the first time of the day.
Maria Johnson: For me, it’s a little bit different, because life isn’t always so ordered if you’re up all night with a sick child and such. I love the morning. That’s my most favorite time, before the sun is up, time. Just go outside with a cup of coffee even wrapped in a blanket. There are the stars, and it’s you and the Lord. That’s my favorite.
With four children and six grandchildren and my husband’s work schedule, I can’t always do that, that 5 o’clock or 4:30 or 6 a.m., not when you’ve been up two or three hours with a sick child or grandchild or something.
So what the Lord began showing me from Psalm 16:11 was that I was very consistent with that morning quiet time, and I became proud in that. “In His presence is fullness of joy.” He began showing me that I had to live every moment in His presence. Every moment.
So whether it’s with a sick child or helping my married kids with their children or a neighbor at church, whatever it may be, whatever the need is, it’s in that moment to realize God is there, and that He has made provision for His glory in whatever the circumstance is.
That’s not to say time with the Lord in His Word isn’t important, but it’s even bigger than that. Where can we go from Him presence? Nowhere.
I can remember riding on a subway in Boston and turning to my cousin and saying, “Look at all these people, all these nationalities. I can’t bare to think that they’re going to die and burn and hell.” It’s just realizing that His presence is everywhere and in His presence is fullness of joy.
My favorite place, of course, is before Him in His Word in the quietness alone. But everywhere He wants us to see Him, and everywhere He’s made provision for His glory, whether it’s pointing out lost or helpless people or ministering or just having fun like drawing chalk pictures on the sidewalk with the kids. Everywhere God has made provision for His glory. It’s remembering that and remembering we’re always in His presence. Always. Always.
I was taught early on about that early quiet time, early quiet time. Boy, I did it. Tell me what to do, and I’ll follow those three steps. There’s a pride in that. Then God said, “No, it’s bigger than that. I’m always there, and I’ve made provision for My glory everywhere I’ve placed you.”
Doing puzzles with the little kids, teaching women. It doesn’t matter. God is there. Our purpose for being there, my purpose is to glorify Him.
Kathy Helvey: Nancy, you mentioned something, I was looking in my notes here and I cannot find it, about the Word of God. If we were to really believe it and live it, then our lives would be so transformed. It would be so different. I think of that Scripture in Romans where it says, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2, KJV).
Since we’re talking about quiet times and time with the Lord, as I’ve grown older, I’ve had to walk for exercise to keep the weight off. One thing that motivates me to get out there everyday and walk is something I started doing a few years ago and that’s memorizing Psalms because it’s a lot like poetry. It flows.
So I started memorizing different psalms. I would motivate myself to walk by taking my little 3 x 5 cards out on the road with me. Then I would just quote them and say them over and over. As I started walking, there’s that little jingle or little chorus that goes, “And He walks with me and He talks with me.” That’s what started happening.
I started having the best quiet times, and I still do, with the Lord when I’m out walking by myself. I’m very selfish about these walks. People have said let me walk with you. I’ve said no. I just need to do it alone. It just wouldn’t fit into my schedule.
Nancy: Tell them you already have a walking Partner.
Maria: That’s right, and I love Him. So as we walk and as He talks with me, it was just a joyous surprise. I think C. S. Lewis wrote a book, Surprised by Joy, and that’s kind of what happened to me on our walk one day.
I was talking to God about a certain situation and then I started quoting this little 3 x 5 card psalm. It ended up I started praying those very words to God. Before they were just rote memorization, but it became a part of who I was, what the situation was, about what I wanted to say to the Lord, and what He wanted to say to me.
So much of life change now has come to me by memorizing God’s Word. I was told when I was very little in daily vacation Bible school how important it was to memorize the Word of God, but I had no idea. Now I have many 3 x 5 cards, and I just walk and I talk. The Word of God becomes a prayer back to Him, and it’s thrilling.
Nancy: I’ve found that happening myself even in this study of the book of Habakkuk. As I’ve been meditating on the book and studying it, I’ve ended up memorizing it. That last verse, “GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places” (Habakkuk 3:19).
I found myself just so needing the strength of the Lord, but drawing strength from the Scripture that is now in my heart and saying by faith, “God the Lord is my strength. Lord, You are my strength. You make my feet like the deer’s. You make me tread on my high places.”
Going into this recording session—this is a high place for me, a hard place. It’s taking more stamina than I have. It’s taking more wisdom than I have. The Scripture becomes personal that way, so it’s not just Habakkuk saying that. It’s not just me knowing it in my head. It becomes a part of my actual walk with the Lord.
Kathy: So many people will say when I ask them how’s their quiet time, because a lot of times most of the women I talk to are women having some kind of problem, and I’ll say, “Well, how’s your quiet time?” They’ll say, “Well, I pray all the time.” Then my next question is, “Well, that’s great, but when do you listen?”
That’s what you’re talking about. Your 3 x 5 cards—you’re not just talking to the Lord. You’re listening because He’s talking back to you through His Word. That is how He talks to us and directs us, corrects us, through His Word, so that’s a neat way to do two things at once.
Kathy: There’s a verse in Psalm 94 and it says, “When my anxious thoughts consume me.” Another version says, “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me . . .” (Psalm 94:19, NASB).
Nancy: Yes, we all know that verse!
Kathy: Then the second part is, “Your consolations delight my soul.” To me consolation is what He says, what He promises. If I haven’t been there to know what He’s saying, then when my anxious thoughts get carried away and multiply and the stresses and fears of life come and the demons of darkness come in the middle of the night waking me up and I’m fearful. If I don’t know God’s Word, haven’t hidden it in my heart through memorizing it, then I’m lost.
Kim: There’s nothing to counteract those lies. You don’t have that truth hidden away.
Kathy: It can’t grab a hold of my life, and I can’t have life change. Can’t trust. Don’t just read God’s Word, but memorize it.
Kim: Meditate on it.
Kathy: If we memorize it, I think God’s promise is, it’ll come back to us.
Holly: I agree, Kathy. So many of the women I talk to haven’t even picked up their Bibles and they don’t understand why they’re not getting what they need from the Lord. “God is just not listening to me.”
I thought about Habakkuk being so determined. I mean he got real honest with God. He told Him what his questions were. But then he was determined to get in a place where he could hear from God.
I think if we’re not careful, we put all the blame on God and don’t accept responsibility for the fact that God’s Word is readily available. I’m sorry, everybody can find time somewhere to get to God.
I know there are crisis moments where it’s just incredibly tough, but unless you are at the deathbed of a loved one, or it’s a hospital stay, or I mean it’s just a crisis moment, there is time in most of our lives.
Nancy: Actually, it’s in those crisis moments that a lot of people do get to God.
Holly: Well, then you remember He’s there.
Holly: But we are so unprepared even for when those things come because in the midst of our everyday lives, we forget. It’s not that we forget. We know. We just are not desperate enough to hear what God has to say, which means, as Nancy brought up, that we’re just dependent on ourselves, and what we have is what we have apart from Him. That is so frightening to me.
Kathy: We’re so feeling-oriented, especially as women. What came out to me through this whole session was that Nancy kept saying it’s a choice. Someone once wrote a book, Faith Is Not a Feeling. I thought, okay, faith is not a feeling.
Sometimes we’re so consumed with our feelings because of the hurt or the pain, whatever is going on in our life that I like to think of it now as a contrary choice. I have got to go contrary to everything I am when I’m in that situation. That’s hard to do unless I’ve invested while it’s good. I’m walking close with the Lord.
Dear Habakkuk, I love you. [Laughter] Because I sat there thinking, this is a Habakkuk conundrum. This is what it is. He’s puzzled. He’s confused. He’s angry. He’s at a loss. He feels he’s been abandoned, rejected. Where are You, God?
We’ve all been there. I want to follow that man. I want to be a Habakkuk and go from my conundrum to where we ended in this little book—faith.
Holly: Well, I’m just wondering as you talk with other women why it is that you see women not doing that. Why do women not make that choice?
I talked with a gal a couple weeks ago. In the course of the conversation she maybe mentioned ten other women that she had already shared with what was going on in her life. When I finally said, “Have you had time to get to God about this?” “No.” She really hadn’t. She was so quick to get to everybody else. I just think that’s such a dangerous thing to get enough salve on the wound that we don’t need to get to get to God like Habakkuk did.
Maria: It comes so naturally though to be independent. You don’t teach a child to say, "I can do it myself." You teach them to share. I think that’s part of it. It’s one of the things, like Kathy had said that I liked about this book is how real God is with His Word. He’s so practical.
Emotions are real, and we as women know that. But what are we going to do with those emotions? Now, he had fear. He had questions, I’m sure. Habakkuk had doubts. I mean he said how long and why? Emotions are real, but we can’t stuff it, deny it, ignore it, or medicate it. We’ve got to learn to run to God.
I have watched over and over, He allows that pressure to come to remind us we do need Him because we tend to be so self-sufficient. I can do this myself. It’s just an attitude that we’re born with, I really believe. You have enough of those things in your life happening and you begin to realize you need him.
There was a season in our life where in an eight-year period, the longest we went without a major crisis was six months. I’m talking death, hospitalizations, major accidents, a child nearly dying three times in six months. The longest we went with peace was six months in eight years.
Yet I would not trade those eight years for anything in the world because in the midst of that I learned to run to the Lord. Our whole family did. You get a glimpse of God when everything else doesn’t work, doesn’t help, doesn’t satisfy. I mean you need real answers. You need a real God, and He is there.
“The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood, and the LORD sits as King forever” (Psalm 29:10, NKJV). That’s the verse the Lord gave me beside my 17-year-old son that was unrecognizable. No one even knew that was really him except me and his daddy; he was so injured. I just sat there, and that is the verse the Lord gave.
That was the beginning of eight years straight. Six-month breather. Big things. Lots of deaths, surgeries, accidents, financial loss. I mean like how long, Lord, and why? He was there, and He was enough.
You have a few experiences like that in life and you can sing with Habakkuk at the end. There are seasons of that. I mean, that’s not the only time. But you have a good season of it, and you begin to realize God is enough. He doesn’t mind those honest questions.
We were waiting once, even before that season, when we felt God had led us to adopt even though our first two children were 13 and 15. Everyone thought we were crazy, but we really felt that God said there were specific children. It wasn’t like I wanted a baby or we didn’t have a son or didn’t have a daughter or we wanted this or that.
We were waiting. It took 18 months, and it only takes 9 months to have a baby biologically. This was too long. The social workers kept changing.
Anyway, a friend of mine who had a lot of courage took me to lunch one day. I was just complaining, like you said, whining and whining. She leaned over to me and she said, “Maria, you are not waiting on a social worker, and you are not waiting on children, and you’re not waiting for your house to sell, and you’re not waiting to buy a bigger house” (because you’re going to have more kids). She said, “You are waiting on the Lord.”
Now we were in a restaurant with a server, they call them now. What does a waiter or a waitress do? They wait for you to signal, nod, gesture to them, and they come to you. That’s my picture the Lord gave me in that second, that I was to wait like a servant on the Lord. He would nod, and He would gesture when He wanted me to go or stay or left or right. I’ll never forget that. We’re waiting on the Lord. That’s what Habakkuk did. He waited until God answered him.
Leslie: That’s Maria Johnson. We also heard from Kim Wagner, and Holly Elliff. And we heard from Kathy Helvey, who went home to be with the Lord this past April.
These ladies listened as Nancy Leigh DeMoss delivered a teaching series called, Habakkuk: Moving from Fear to Faith. Today’s conversation was a follow-up exploration about what this teaching looks like practically day to day.
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