Leslie Basham: Too often aging is accompanied by fear, worry and bitterness. Here’s Anne Ortlund.
Anne Ortlund: We don’t have an image of a godly older woman who is an example to others and who walks with Jesus and has joy in her heart.
Leslie Basham: Today we’ll get a picture of what a godly older woman is like.
Today is Wednesday, February 25; and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Our culture links beauty with youth but God doesn’t. Today we’ll find out how true beauty can grow and deepen with age. Here’s Nancy to introduce our guest.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The Lord has been so gracious in my life to bring around me women, older women, many of them who have been a little farther down the road spiritually and in life experience than I have been who have been instruments to help teach me the ways of God.
Isn’t that what the Scripture says in Titus chapter 2 that older women should teach younger women–how to love God, how to love their husbands, how to walk with God in practical ways? One such woman in my life at a distance has been Anne Ortlund.
Her husband was my pastor when I was a college student and, Anne, welcome back toRevive Our Hearts. Thank you for sharing in this week with us.
Anne Ortlund: What’s more fun than sharing the Word of God?
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: What an encouragement you have been over many years. I do feel like I know you because you open up your heart in your books and are just very transparent and real. I appreciate that so much about you.
This book The Gentle Ways of the Beautiful Woman is subtitled A Practical Guide to Spiritual Beauty and it’s a book that I hope every one of our women listeners will order. It’s very helpful. It’s rich with spiritual insight. It’s so biblical and it’s one of those books I wish I had written. Someday maybe God will allow me to reproduce these kinds of truths in writing, but this book you have written.
It’s really a compilation of three earlier books that you have written”¦
Anne Ortlund: Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman, Disciplines of the Heart, and Disciplines of the Home.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Discipline sounds to many people like the kind of thing you don’t really want to read about or think about, but you make discipline out to be a beautiful subject.
Anne Ortlund: Oh sure, doesn’t it beat the alternative? If we are not disciplined, then we are just out of control; we are living frantic, harried lives. Who needs it?
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You know, Anne, I was thinking about you this morning as I was preparing for this recording and thinking that at 79 years of age you are a beautiful woman. It was occurring to me this morning as I was preparing that it’s not just because you are strikingly, physically beautiful, which you are; but it’s something deeper and richer than that–it’s because for so many years you have been committed to living out the truths that you talk about in your books. God’s ways really are a beautifying force in our lives as women, aren’t they?
Anne Ortlund: You know, Nancy, let me just say that I used to have a favorite verse and it’s become my life verse: Proverbs 4:18 “The path of the just is as a shining light that shines more and more to the perfect day.”
You said to me, “Let’s do a program on getting old and dying. I resonate with that because old and death are two words that everybody shies away from, “Let’s not talk about that and let’s not go there.” But this is reality for everybody and, boy, if I were not a believer this would be spooky. This would be definitely scary but if you are with the Lord, then truly the path of the just is as a “shining light that shines more and more to the perfect day.”
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So it’s not a matter of petering out?
Anne Ortlund: Oh, it’s the opposite. In fact Paul says it because he says, “Forget the outward; it’s the inward that’s important. It’s the invisible that’s important” and he says “our outward man is perishing, but our inward person is being renewed day by day” [ 2 Corinthians 4:16].
I sense this. I have to be careful to put on my makeup every morning and you know I have to do that or, God forbid, that people should see me the way I first get out of bed in the morning. But when we have done the little we can do for the outside, you’re right, it’s the inside that counts.
I think about Proverbs 31[:25] this woman that we all want to be. It says “She can laugh at days to come.”
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: There’s no fear there.
Anne Ortlund: Oh, no fear at all; she is not worried about coming wrinkles or whatever it’s going to be because the inner person is more and more important to her and the joy and the peace that this world longs for and doesn’t have is found in Christ which has nothing to do with age.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It’s really because the bottom line is that she fears the Lord which is why she doesn’t have to fear getting old.
Anne Ortlund: That’s exactly right. I must say that in those years when she is mothering and a lot of you are single mothers out there and we know you’re listening to this and your lives seem hassled, hey better days are coming. Get through this season; it gets better.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You know, I have to tell you, Anne, and some of you will laugh at this; but I have had a life goal since I was a little girl and that is to be a godly, old lady.
Anne Ortlund: Oh, I like that!
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I’ve had an obsession with this since I was a little girl. I have this image in my mind of what a godly, old lady looks like or is like. But I really do believe that God has helped me to look forward to aging because I have this sense of,Everything that’s happening in my life right now is making me more like Jesus, fitting me, preparing me for a life that is richer and fuller and not to be dreaded, though, I’m sure there are physical aspects of aging that are not easy.
Anne Ortlund: Actually there is that part of us that loves life and longs for life to be lived a long time and indeed one of the Ten Commandments is the commandment with promise that your days will be long on the earth.
So God understands that and He’s not making us so despise our present life that all we can do is say, “Oh well, somehow I’m going to grit my teeth and get through it and then heaven is coming.” No, it’s wonderful that heaven is coming but these days even of aging are precious and to be savored more and more.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I see these older women some of whom are bitter, cantankerous, and ornery.
Anne Ortlund: Which is why little old ladies get kicked around, you know, because we don’t have an image of an godly, older woman who is an example to others and who walks with Jesus and has joy in her heart.
I love the verse in I think it’s the seventy-eighth Psalm that says, “She will not rest until she has taught the younger generations the works of the Lord proclaiming that God is good.” I think we can proclaim if we’ve even become paraplegics, our legs don’t work, our arms don’t work–if we can still speak, we can do that.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You have a chapter in this book The Gentle Ways of the Beautiful Woman and it’s a chapter about being equally at ease with life and death.
Anne Ortlund: This chapter says that one of the keys to that is getting to know the Lord one-on-one because if everything in your life has been the group, everything is the family, everything is church, everything is multiple, if we are not used to being alone with the Lord, death is a one-on-one thing.
He must be supreme. He’s got to be priority one or it would simply be too, not only too painful to be cut off from the others (I mean it’s going to happen) but it would be more painful but also it will be so unfamiliar to us.
We would not know how to handle one-on-one experiences with the Lord–the way sickness is. No matter who loves you or how much they love you, they cannot take your sickness for you. You realize you are one-on-one with the Lord and what He works in your heart and puts in your mind and how you interact with Him in that, this is what either brings glory to that situation or it’s just a bad news thing. Jesus is the transforming power. He makes all the difference.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You challenge us to learn how to live in constant readiness. What does that mean and how do you do it?
Anne Ortlund: Well for one thing you do it simply because Jesus may come and He will just come in an instant and snatch up believers to be with Himself and so all of us must be ready for that moment.
If it does not come, if He chooses to wait so that we do experience death, then we need to be in constant readiness for that. We do not control our lives. I’m thinking of Psalm 139 [:16]that says “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
If he has planned for us a long life or a short life, it’s the quality of the life that counts. It’s living it with Him. It’s being in readiness to go or to stay. Paul says, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” [Philippians 1:21].
Then he tosses that around. In Philippians chapter 1 he says, “Well, I’d really rather go but I may have to stay for the sake of ministry for awhile” [Philippians 1:23-24]. I kind of feel that way. I am so excited about dying and I think it will be very interesting. Maybe I’ll go so fast I won’t know, it’ll just be from one to the other, but however God has planned for it, if it’s through pain, well, hey, I’m not the first and God will give grace.
Somebody said, “Do you have dying grace?” I think someone asked John Wesley this and he said, “No but I’m not dying yet.” We have the grace that we need for the moment that we are living.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The fact is for every one of us soon in light of eternity we will face death.
Anne Ortlund: Sooner than we think.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We need to be living in constant readiness, not just for the dying process or moment but for what comes beyond that. That is the moment when we’ll give account to Christ, when we will face Him and I know, Anne, that you want to face Him with joy.
Anne Ortlund: We’re not going to be here forever. Our unsaved neighbors will not be here forever. We need to say what we need to say now and not later. We need to live as dying men to dying men.
Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back to pray. As she talked with Anne Ortlund today, have you noticed how different the conversation is from what you usually hear about aging and dying?
Isn’t it refreshing to hear from a woman who knows the Word of God and has been living it for years? You can hear Nancy’s entire conversation with Anne by ordering this series on cassette or CDs. It’s something you will want to hear again and again. You can order two cassettes for a suggested donation of $8 or two CDs for $10. You can also learn more from Anne by reading her book The Gentle Ways of the Beautiful Woman.
For more information call us at 1-800-569-5959. You can also order from our Web site. The address is ReviveOurHearts.com.
If you appreciate conversations like this one as much as I do and would enjoy hearing more of the same, we would appreciate that you think about donating to this ministry. It’s because of listeners like you that we are able to put programs like this on the air. If you would like to send a donation, you can send it to Revive Our Hearts.
The person that you marry changes over time. Is it possible to stay in love? We’ll hear about that tomorrow. Today we have been hearing that we can grow older and face death with peace and joy. If that seems impossible, would you pray now with Nancy?
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Father, I want to pray right now for the person listening today who may not be ready to die, who does not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and for whom death holds only fear. It should hold fear if we don’t know Christ.
I pray that today would be a day of repentance and faith and true salvation for someone who is listening that they may be ready to face eternity. Lord, for those of us who do know You and are prepared for eternity, I pray that our lives may have brought You glory through every day that You give us here on this earth. For Jesus’ sake we pray it. Amen.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministry.
Used with Permission.