Part 1 Immersed in God’s Word – A Conversation with Elisabeth Elliot – Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Leslie Basham: Elisabeth Elliot always used to open her radio program Gateway To Joythe same way.

Elisabeth Elliot: “You are loved with an everlasting love”—that’s what the Bible says—“and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

Leslie: Ten years ago, Elisabeth Elliot introduced her program:

Elisabeth: This is your friend Elisabeth Elliot.

Leslie: Then introduced some guests:

Elisabeth: I’m talking today with my friend Bob Lepine.

Bob Lepine: Also in the studio with us is Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Hello, Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Hi, Bob, and Elisabeth. It’s good to be with both of you.

Leslie: Nancy, along with Bob and a team of people were developing a new radio program. Gateway To Joy was about to cease production, and this new program was about to inherit its time slot on the radio.

The program that was getting ready to launch ten years ago is the one you’re listening to now. This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, August 31.

Elisabeth Elliot has encouraged women for decades. She boldly proclaims the truth, and she’s also boldly lived out the truth she proclaims. She’s faithfully served in dangerous jungles as a missionary, and she’s faithfully served in her home as a wife.

Over the next three days, we’ll hear practical wisdom from Elisabeth Elliot. We’ll be listening to parts of interviews recorded for the radio program Gateway To Joy. These aired ten years ago in the final days before the program ceased production.

Elisabeth and her co-host Lisa Barry were introducing their audience to Nancy Leigh DeMoss. You’ll also hear from Bob Lepine, the co-host of FamilyLife Today, and at the time he was getting ready to help Nancy launch a new program called Revive Our Hearts.

So, here’s Bob, Nancy, Elisabeth Elliot, and Lisa Barry recorded ten years ago forGateway To Joy.

Lisa Barry: I’d like to ask both you, Elisabeth and Nancy, why a quiet time is important to you and to your faith?

Elisabeth: My father set the example for us in that he got up at 5:00 in the morning, and I do the same thing when I’m at home. It’s impossible sometimes to keep a schedule when we’re traveling, but when we’re home, we go to bed usually before 9:00. Sometimes we go to bed at 8:30 and just read in bed, but almost always we turn the light off at 9:00.

People would say, “What a boring life you must live! You never go any place, you never do anything.”

Of course, we don’t feel the least bit bored. We feel greatly blessed. My father would always say to people who said to him, “How in the world do you ever get up at 5:00?” He’d say, “You have to start the night before.”

Nancy: That sounds so much like my father!

Elisabeth: It’s that simple. Yes, you have to start the night before.

There is something very wonderful about it. The Bible says that Jesus got up a great while before day, and He went up into the mountain to converse with His Father. Why shouldn’t we imitate Him in that way?

Nancy: We children laugh affectionately about my dad saying to company in our home in the evening, “You all be sure and lock the doors and turn out the lights when you leave,” and he would excuse himself because it was so important to him to get to bed at an hour that he knew he needed to be if he was going to be up and meeting with the Lord.

And he was every single day from the first year he came to know the Lord till the day he went home to be with the Lord 28 years later. It was not something legalistic for him. He had a motto: “No Bible reading, no breakfast,” and no other reading before reading the Scripture. He really reverenced the Word of God.

To this day I have followed his pattern. I find it difficult to put anything on top of the Bible. Not because the physical pages here are anything sacred, but it’s just out of reverence for the Word of God.

What an example for us growing up in that home to know that before we were awake, our dad had been up meeting the Lord. Though he was a very busy businessman, that was the number one priority of his day. He could have sooner skipped meals, which he did not skip—he was a man of great routine. He ate three meals a day, at the same time every day. But he could have sooner skipped all that than not have that appointment with the Lord. It really was the foundational thing in his own life and has become that in my own life.

Lisa: Did your parents share that kind of commitment to devotional time?

Elisabeth: Well, I’ve told you about my father. He was on his knees with his Bible, praying, long before we came down to breakfast.

My mother had her quiet time after breakfast and when we’d left for school. She didn’t get up at 5:00 as my father did. She probably got up at 6:30 or so because we had breakfast usually around 7:00.

Lisa: How do you handle dry times? When you’re reading God’s Word, and you want to get a spiritual blessing from what you’re reading, but it’s just all falling flat, what do you do?

Elisabeth: Well, there certainly are times when I feel as though I’m wasting my time or it’s fallen flat, but the best thing, I guess, is just to lift it up to the Lord.

I do start my quiet time, not with my Bible, but with the ancient praise song. It is a song of praise way back from the third century or something. It begins with, “We praise Thee, O God. We acknowledge Thee to be the Lord. All the earth doth worship Thee, the Father Everlasting. To Thee all angels cry aloud, the heavens and all the powers therein.”

It’s a long prayer, but it sets the tone for the rest of my quiet time. Then I take my Bible reading, and following the Bible reading, I pray. I have lists that I pray for different days of the week, and, of course, special lists for things that have just come in.

Undoubtedly, I would say that it’s because of our father’s constant, perfectly regular quiet time that he had, and he encouraged all of us to do the same.

Nancy: I think there are dry times. Really, that’s not also bad in the sense that it requires us to walk by faith, and faith pleases God. The Christian life, ultimately, is not about feelings. It is about faith.

We cannot see Him face to face now, as we one day will, so we are forced at times to just acknowledge by faith that He is God and He is present in our praise and in our worship and in the Word.

As Elisabeth indicates, she opens her quiet time with that prayer, there’s a prayer that I have prayed for many years before opening the Word in the morning that has helped me be more tuned to the presence of God in the Word. It’s taken from a number of different verses in the Psalms, but I pray:

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Law. Give me understanding, and I will keep Your Law, and I will obey it with all my heart. Show me Your ways, O Lord. Teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long. That which I see not, teach Thou me. If I’ve done iniquity, I will do no more.

It’s interesting. I find that as I pray that prayer from my heart, the Lord really does answer it. My spirit is quickened within me, and I’m really saying in effect, “Lord, You speak to me, and whatever You say, by Your grace, I will obey.”

I’m actually, in effect, handing God a blank sheet of paper, signing my name to it and then asking Him to fill in His will in the details, rather than saying, “Once I see what I see here, if I like it, I will live it out.”

I’m committing myself in advance to say, “Yes, Lord,” to whatever He says. And then He does come and meet with me through His Word.

But I will say that even in the days when I find myself trudging through, maybe the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles, which is just lots of lists of names—and I do believe, by the way, that all those passages are valuable and important and inspired and necessary in our walk with God. But with some of them it’s a little harder to see what all the significance is. But even in those times, I liken it to our physical eating habits.

Not every meal is a great feast. When I’m home, I eat a cereal mixture for breakfast. It’s just not the most wonderful meal, but I know that over the course of time a balanced, nutritious diet is going to leave me in better physical condition. I know that over the course of time, the regular habit of intake of the Word into my life, of setting aside that time to be quiet and still before the Lord, is going to reap spiritual benefits in my relationship with the Lord.

And I might add, the purpose of the quiet time, ultimately, is not for how it benefits me anyway. Ultimately, it’s for my allegiance and my loyalty, surrender, and submission to God and for His glory.

He says in the Word that He wants to see our face, and He wants to hear our voice. So really, whether we feel like it or not, whether it’s meaningful to us or not, in taking that quiet time, we’re obeying God and saying, “I will let You see my face, and I will let You hear my voice.”

Lisa: Elisabeth, there are many young mothers out there who have not a clue about how to raise godly children. Can you give some insight on where they might begin the process?

Elisabeth: I had a wonderful father and mother, and they raised (I think I can honestly say) godly children. In as much as there’s a whole lot of things to start learning when you’re small children, I think we pretty much did learn the things that they agonized over and taught us to do, but the example is the most important thing of all.

The children are very keen watchers of what parents do, and any slightest deviation or any slip, the child is going to recognize that and think, “Well, this may be a place where I can get away with something or do something without being caught.”

We were seldom caught. We were seldom bold enough to go against our parents’ wishes about anything. We knew what the rules of the house were. When we got to be teenagers, it was very clear that we had to be home at a certain time. If we were not home at that time, then there would be consequences.

I think our parents were very gentle generally and very strict at the same time. We knew that what they said, they meant, and they didn’t have to say it twice.

Lisa: Is that not true now? Do you think parents nowadays are not calling their children to accountability?

Elisabeth: Yes. I hear an awful lot of young parents who just throw up their hands and say, “Well, they’re just kids.” Well, what does that mean—“just kids”? Kids can learn. They can learn from day one practically.

I can remember being with Val when her first child was born, and it was very clear the first day that that boy was determined to run his parents. He was making a tremendous racket about everything. My brother Tom says that when his son was born, he went in there, and his son was thrusting his fists at heaven in defiance of what his father was about to do.

Well, we had lunch just last Sunday, I guess. It was at a military base, and there was a family sitting near our table, and they had absolutely no control over the children. The kids were racing around, going up to the table where the sweets were and helping themselves, and the parents were completely occupied with talking to other people, just paying no attention.

The attitude just seems to be hunched shoulders and rolled eyes, and, “Well, they’re just kids.” What do you mean, “Just kids”?

Lisa: Isn’t it interesting, we talk about how amazing it is that children can learn the English language, that they learn so much at school, yet sometimes when it comes to obedience to parents, they suddenly can’t learn apparently as well as what we had just given them credit for in academics.

Nancy: I think, too, for parents to realize that the way they handle these issues of authority is teaching their children a view of God. For parents to allow their children to be in control and not to lovingly make the children understand that the parents are the ones who have been given by God this responsibility, it creates a view of God that means we can run God. Ultimately, parents are really the first ones who can and ought to teach children the fear of the Lord in a sense of a reverential awe.

It was unthinkable, growing up in my family, to willfully disobey my parents. Our parents dealt also with attitudes. I can remember my dad having quite a conversation with me at one point about my attitude as a teenager toward my mother in a particular instance. I’m so thankful now that they said, in effect—this was not harsh; it was not in any way abusive, but firm and loving, as Elisabeth has said—saying, “This is not how it will be in our home. You cannot have that attitude. You cannot respond that way.”

That gave boundaries. I think the human heart craves boundaries. Wherever the boundaries are, we’re going to push against them, but the human heart needs boundaries because we are born rebels and need to be restrained until the Holy Spirit comes to live within us and provides that internal restraint.

Another area related to this whole thing of children developing a heart for God that my parents felt was so important—I would be interested, Elisabeth, in knowing how this took place in your home—but they really believed in the importance of protecting and determining the environment to which your children are exposed. So there were many aspects of culture around us, even in those days (which I realize there are different issues we’re facing today) but they determined what books we were going to be exposed to, what entertainment we’d be exposed to.

We didn’t have a television in our home. We didn’t carry a newspaper. You could think this was a very narrow, legalistic home. To the contrary; there was a lot of activity, a lot of joy, a lot of energy and exchange and dialogue. Amazingly, we read, and we talked, and we did things so many families don’t do because they’re glued to the television set and going in all different directions at the same time.

There was a conscious, determined effort to control what we would be exposed to, believing that children ought to be raised in a greenhouse. They’re not to be put outside to be thrown to the elements, to the world’s philosophies and behaviors.

My parents did allow me to go off to a secular university on the other side of the country when I was in my late teens. I lived with a Christian family, but I was now on my own and could do a lot of things I wanted to do.

My parents knew by that time there was a sense of the fear of the Lord that even though they weren’t there, I had a consciousness of the presence of God that was going to take me through those experiences.

Lisa: Getting back to the sheltered home that you thought was so important, when I tell people that I home school, one of the objections they immediately come up with is that I’m doing harm to my children by sheltering them from what they call “the real world.” You’re talking about that protective state at home. Is that really what’s happening?

Nancy: Yes, you are sheltering your children from the world that is out there, that is not thinking and living God’s way. Now, the question is: Is that wrong? Well, it all depends on what your objective is for your children.

Do you want your children to be like the world? Children are great mimics. Do you want them to adopt the world’s heart and philosophy?

I see these parents with teenage children throwing up their hands in the air saying, “My child loves all this awful music, has these wrong friends, has these wrong values, is not committed to moral purity, is into addictive behavior. What can I do?”

My thinking is: “Now is not the time to be asking that question.” Obviously, there can be grace that can restore at whatever point parents come to faith, but from the earliest infancy is the time to create in those children an appetite for that which is holy and righteous and good.

The goal is not to equip the children to fit into this world. Your goal for your children, Lisa, is, I’m sure, as I know Elisabeth’s was for Valeria, and my parents’ goal was for me: that we would go out into the world to be reflectors of the heart and the spirit of Jesus. Not to be like the world. Not to fit into it. Not to survive in it. But to change it.

Bob Lepine: Nancy, I was thinking about the fact that young girls growing up today . . . My daughter was born in 1981. All she’s ever known is a culture that says, “You should find your self-worth and your satisfaction outside the home.” That’s been the dominant message, and for her to hear anything else sounds completely counter-cultural.

Nancy: I do think the revolution has been very pervasive. In fact, we really have had something very precious stolen from us. Think of Elisabeth’s book years ago, Let Me Be a Woman. That has been such a wonderful watch cry, I think, for women who are now growing up and want just the privilege of being a woman—not to have to be something that God didn’t make them to be.

So God really has used Elisabeth as an older woman to minister to those of us in the next generation who are now ministering to the next generation, saying, “It’s okay, and it’s not only okay. It’s precious; it’s beautiful; it’s wonderful to embrace your womanhood and your call to the home.”

Bob Lepine: I have to tell you, I spent a little time recently as a homemaker. My wife had the opportunity to go with her mother on an extended trip, and I said, “I’d love for you to do that, honey. I’ll stay home with the children.”

Well, after I had twelve days of being a homemaker, I can understand where somebody could come along at the end of the twelve days and say, “Find fulfillment somewhere else.” Because, as you said, Elisabeth, the chores, the tedium of ironing and washing clothes doesn’t take long before you go, “Is this all there is to life?”

Elisabeth: I really do believe that every experience, if offered to Jesus, is our gateway to joy. The experience may be taking care of a sick grandfather or taking care of the child who is perhaps going to be lame for life, washing the dishes, and, of course, every now and then the dishwasher or stove or something else goes on the blink. You just want to throw your hands up and think, “How did I ever get into this mess?”

There’s something about laundry and godliness, the willingness to do the humble, ordinary thing, which needs to be done. Why shouldn’t it be done by me?

The older I get, the more I appreciate the privilege of having laundry to do, dishes to wash, houses to clean. If we could only realize that all of these which are incumbent upon us and required, when they’re offered to Jesus, they really are transformed. There’s something totally transforming about it.

When you think of that little Mary—I always think of her as being somewhere between 12 and 14 years old—she didn’t have any quibble. She said, “Behold, I’m the handmaiden of the Lord. Let it happen as you say, or be it done to me according to thy Word.”

In modern English, “Anything You say, Lord, here I am. Do anything You want with me.”

Used with Permission. Revive Our Hearts.

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