Day to Day With God
About the Guest
Susan Yates, author of the book, "Risky Faith," talks about making a conscious choice to trust God each moment of the day. Yates, a mother of five grown children, remembers her first Christmas as an empty-nester and the lesson God taught her that first holiday season as she sat alone by the Christmas tree, pondering this new season of life.
Susan Yates talks about making a conscious choice to trust God each moment of the day. Yates, a mother of five grown children, remembers her first Christmas as an empty-nester.
Day to Day With God
Bob: One of the riskiest things we are called to do, as followers of Christ, is to admit to other people when we’ve messed up and to seek and grant forgiveness. Here’s author and speaker, Susan Yates.
Susan: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to say to my husband and to my kids: “You know, I shouldn’t have done what I did,” or “I shouldn’t have said what I did, and I need to ask you to forgive me.” I can’t think of a single time when I felt like doing that. I mean, I want to be right—I’m the wife / I’m the mother. We go to one another, asking for forgiveness, not out of feelings, but out of obedience.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, April 14th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey. I’m Bob Lepine. When was the last time your faith was put to the test, and you had to do something risky in order to believe God? We’re going to talk about that today.
Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. We have a co-laborer, who is with us in the studio today.
Dennis: We do. Susan Yates joins us again on FamilyLife Today. Susan, welcome back.
Susan: Oh, it’s great to be back with you guys. It’s always so much fun.
Dennis: You and Johnny have been on our speaker team—
Bob: Oh, now, wait. You called him Johnny?
Dennis: It’s because—
Bob: Susan calls him Johnny, but does anybody else?—nobody else calls him Johnny.
Susan: Anybody who went to college with us.
Bob: How about the kids? The kids—
Susan: They call him, “Dad.” [Laughter]
Bob: Yes, that’s right; okay—alright.
Dennis: Anyway, they’ve been on our Weekend to Remember® marriage conference speaker team for now—what?—
Dennis: —twenty years—and just are a great gift to, I think, our nation. They give leadership in a key church—if not the key church—in our nation’s capitol—right next to it—in Falls Church, Virginia.
Susan has written a number of books—the latest of which is Risky Faith: Becoming Brave Enough to Trust the God Who Is Bigger than Your World.
Susan, I forgot to ask you the question that I was going to ask you on an earlier broadcast—so you’re not going to get out of it today. [Laughter] I want to ask you the question—speaking of brave, courageous faith:” In your life, you’ve made a lot of brave decisions. What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?”
Susan: This is going to be a very unusual answer, Dennis; because I don’t have an exciting story to tell you in which I found myself brave. I think the reality is walking with God, moment by moment, each day, when I would rather “do it myself.”
I think the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve been humbled to my desperate need for Him and choosing this moment / choosing this day, to trust Him rather than trying to problem-solve. We, women, are great problem-solvers, trying to fix everybody—my husband, my children, my grandchildren—trying to do it all myself; but rather making a conscious choice: “Today, I want to trust You in the moment—in the moment—and not spend all my energy worrying about the what-ifs of tomorrow.”
Dennis: And Susan—those who go to The Falls Church Anglican, which John gives leadership to—and you and he have served them faithfully now for—
Susan: —since 1979.
Dennis: Wow! I mean, amazing. People who go to church with you—they would go: “Oh, come on, Susan, you really do struggle with that?!”
Susan: Yes! I think all people do if we are really honest. We struggle with a moment-by-moment walk with Jesus.
Now, obviously, in the big crises, which we’ve all experienced, we’re so desperate, we run to Him; but what do we do in the day in and day out? Do we just sort of put Him on the shelf and think, “I’ll handle this one, Lord”? That’s not what He wants. He is our loving Daddy—He wants us to run to Him.
You know, I have a four-year-old grandson. When I pull into his driveway, he’s out the door—he’s running to me. He’s so excited to jump into my arms. He can’t wait to see what I’ve brought him. [Laughter] I think that’s how God wants us to be toward Him—running to Him, jumping into His arms—the vision / the visual of Him waiting to bless / waiting to bless us. We don’t live like that, because we think we can do it ourselves.
Dennis: You say, in your book, one of the hindrances to faith is that our circumstances are bigger than our God.
Susan: That is so true.
Dennis: There was a book written, back in the mid-‘50s, by J. B. Phillips called Your God Is Too Small.
That was really the premise of the book—people don’t believe the right thing about who God is and what He is capable of doing. We shrink Him down to a human-sized God instead of being the Lord God Almighty, who is worthy of our trust.
Susan: That’s so true. And sometimes—I have a chapter in the book on perspective—and this is one of my favorite things that I feel like God has taught me over the past several years—and that is how to have a larger perspective of exactly who He is. Let me give you an example. Have you ever found yourself saying: “Nobody understands / nobody really cares. Nobody knows how I’m feeling about such and such and such and such”?
And then, we go to Hebrews, Chapter 2 and Chapter 4—the last few verses of both of those chapters—and we find a description, and I’m paraphrasing here—
—that: “We don’t have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but One who has been tested and tempted in every way that we have; yet, without sin. Therefore, we can draw near the throne of Christ with confidence.”
A number of years ago, I began asking myself: “Okay; Christ, where in Your life—it says here very clearly that You have experienced every feeling that I will. Where in Your life did You experience this?” Have You been betrayed?—perhaps, by a man / perhaps, by a girlfriend, who you thought was keeping confidences but betrayed you; perhaps, by a child or a parent? “Jesus, where in Your life did You experience the agony of betrayal?”
It doesn’t take long to go back to Judas—the most obvious—whom He poured His life into for three years, who betrayed Him; or even Peter, on whom He was going to build His church—
—who, at a crucial point in His life, said, “I don’t even know the guy!” Jesus understands what it feels like to be betrayed—it’s painful.
Or have you ever felt: “I’ve ruined my kids! I’ve ruined my kids! I’m the worst parent in the world”? I love to tell young moms and dads, “Your ability to ruin your child is not nearly as great as God’s power to redeem them.” But you know—even Jesus understands that. Yes, He wasn’t married; but really, if you think about it, His twelve disciples were, in a sense, His children. Of the twelve, He had Peter, James, and John—His closest buds. So, He knows what it’s like to feel like a failure. They just fell apart when He was crucified. And even before He was crucified, when He asked Peter, James, and John to come into the garden to pray with Him, they couldn’t even do that—they fell asleep.
Or here is another one. I have a hard decision to make:
“Nobody understands how difficult this decision is. Nobody can empathize with me.” Sometimes, we look to our spouses to empathize, or our friends, or our parents or in-laws; and then, we become critical because they just don’t get it. When what we need to be doing is going to Jesus and saying, “Where in Your life did you face this on a decision?” Back to the Garden of Gethsemane—when He prayed: “Lord, if there is any other way to do this, show Me. Yet, nevertheless, not My will but Thine be done.” God called Him to go through with the crucifixion. He knows what it’s like to be in the agony of a difficult decision.
So, all of this is to say, “Take the promises of Hebrews, because it will enlarge your perspective on how much God loves us and how much Jesus went through for us.”
This is what begins to give us a bigger picture of God which, then, enables us to trust Him with our issues; because He alone really gets us.
Dennis: You know, Susan, what you’re talking about there is practicing the presence of God in the midst of facing difficult circumstances and believing the right thing about God—not believing a lie—that He is there, that He does understand, and that He does care. He invites us, at that moment—in fact, Barbara and I were talking about this the other morning—He invites us to cast our cares on Him.
She said, “Isn’t it interesting He used the word, cast?” “Cast your cares”—toss them, let go of them. Open your hands, take your fingers, pry them off of the issue you’ve got, and pitch it to God, saying, “God, You said, ‘Cast your cares on Me, because I care for you.’”
Therein lies the seed of faith, where you begin to exercise that over and over and over again; and you can begin to handle tough issues in your life.
As I was reading your book, I was thinking about different types of risks that we face in applying this faith. I thought of three, and I just want you to comment on all three of these areas. One is personal risk taking—around a job / a relationship—
Dennis: —maybe, moving or something that is unsettling. The second is relational risk taking, where we have to demonstrate faith in a relationship, where we’re going to tackle something that’s really tough with somebody we really love. That’s an enormous risk as well. Then, the third that I thought of, as well, Susan, was spiritual risk taking, which is stepping out and trusting with God with a major issue in your life that you’ve got right now that demands your faith in Him and not in your circumstances.
So, let’s go back to the first one—personal risk taking. How have you exhibited faith, Susan, in stepping out / trusting God in personal issues that you faced?
Susan: Well, many, many different times—but let me tell you a story about my friend, Jane, who had a major personal risk in trusting God. Jane was seminary-trained. She’d been on the mission field her whole life. She’s an amazing woman / married an amazing, Christian man—raised several children. They were, by all appearances, the perfect Christian family to those around them until, one day, when Jane found out that her husband had been unfaithful—
—before they were married, right after they were married, and for all of the years since they had been married—many, many, many times.
Because of his profession, he travelled a lot; and his employers became involved. He was sent away to different treatment centers for his problem. Jane couldn’t tell anyone what was going on, and it was devastating for her because she had “done everything right,”—she had been a good girl. They had lived an exemplary life. Yet, it was all a lie. Her world crashed. Jane faced two risks—she faced the risk: “Can I ever trust my husband again?”—but an even greater risk was: “Can I ever trust God again?”
In the end—I tell her story in more detail in the book—
—but in the end, she went for a long walk with the Lord, many months after this had been going on and the family had been in counseling, where she just fell on her knees and said: “God, whatever—I don’t understand why this has happened. I don’t know why, but I choose to trust You.” That was a moment of courage. It didn’t take away the pain—there is still a lot of pain / there is still tremendous healing that needs to take place—but when she went before the Lord and said, “I choose to trust You,” she began to get a sense of peace. It doesn’t negate the pain, but God’s peace wraps its arms around the pain.
That was a very big personal risk for her. It was also really a relational risk—she’s still with her husband. They are still going through a tremendous amount of counseling, but her faith in Christ is so deep—.
—I just love to hang out with her.
Dennis: And Susan, you kind of touched on this with that story; but relationships are fraught with risk.
Susan: That’s right!
Dennis: I mean, the only way to play it safe is to not have any friendships / not have any family relationships. That’s the way a lot of people are moving today, because there is a lot of risk in relationships; but at some point, we have to learn how to ask for forgiveness / grant forgiveness. We have to learn how to, maybe, have an intervention in a family member’s life. All those represent relational risk taking.
Bob: And it doesn’t take adultery for somebody to be looking at a spouse and going, “Can I trust you again?” There are all kinds of ways that we violate trust or can violate trust in a relationship. And I think we find ourselves looking and wondering if we can trust one another to go the long-term.
Susan: That’s so true. I think it’s really helpful to distinguish between forgiveness and trust.
God calls us to ask for forgiveness and to grant it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to say to my husband and to my kids: “You know, I shouldn’t have done what I did,” or “I shouldn’t have said what I did, and I need to ask you to forgive me.” I can’t think of a single time when I felt like doing that. I mean, I want to be right—I’m the wife / I’m the mother.
We go to one another, asking for forgiveness, not out of feelings, but out of obedience—that’s the first step—but forgiveness does not automatically restore trust. Trust has to be earned, and it takes a long time for trust to be repaired. Healing is not automatic either, but what opens the door to healing is the going and asking of forgiveness.
And quite honestly, our children, one day in their marriages, are going to need to know how to forgive.
If they don’t grow up in a home, where they see us going to one another, confessing our sins, and asking for forgiveness, they’re not going to know how to do it one day when they are adults. So, it’s a crucial—I think it’s probably the most crucial ingredient in the family. If someone were to say to me, “What is the most important thing in the family?” I think it’s that of forgiveness. It’s also the most difficult.
Dennis: There is not only personal risk taking and relational risk taking, which you just talked about; but there is, also, at the core—there is the essence of spiritual risk taking, where you step out in faith to do something important to trust God in spite of your circumstances. There is a story you tell about your daughter, Libby, who received what has to be some of the most crushing news a young wife can possibly hear.
Susan: Boy! That was a hard time for us, Dennis. You are right.
One of the things that has helped me in seeing how much bigger God is than I presume Him to be—
—is what I call “The Principle of the Other.” It comes from the verse, Jeremiah 33:3, which says, “Call unto Me, and I will show you great and mighty things that you do not know.”
So often, when we pray, we expect God to answer: “Yes,” or “No.” When He answers, “No,” it’s always the love no; and sometimes, it’s: “Wait.” And in the wait, there is a silence. What I have learned to do—in times of being on wait—is to adopt what I call “The Principle of the Other,” which comes from that verse in Jeremiah. I say: “Okay; God, what is something other that You want to teach me? You’ve got my attention about one issue. Broaden my view of You and teach me something else.”
Our daughter, Libby, and her husband McLean had an opportunity to really put this principle to work as their issue was the inability to conceive. With shots, they were able to have one child; and they desperately wanted more. But when Libby went to the doctor to try to get pregnant the second time, she was told that her ovaries were that of a 45-year-old woman; and she was 30 at the time.
The likelihood of being able to conceive was very small.
They had prayed for another child. They began to consider Ethiopian adoption. They went to the Lord, simply, and surrendered their plan for what they thought their life should look like to God’s plan, which was even better. Ultimately, they were shocked when she found out she was pregnant with quadruplets. That was a big shock! [Laughter]
Dennis: No doubt.
Susan: No doubt. And here is what she wrote once God took them through this whole process: “We prayed for a baby and got a deeper marriage. We prayed about an Ethiopian adoption and got a stronger community. We continued to pray for one more biological baby, and we are having quadruplets. We’ve been amazed at God’s leading.
“We have learned to ask boldly and surrender completely. And we pray that we will continue to do so as this adventure continues.”
And you know, Dennis and Bob, they have to continue to do this; because it’s one of the quads, who is six, who has just gone through a liver transplant. So, as we grow in Christ, it’s really all about surrender. It’s far easier to surrender to a God who has become bigger and more known by us.
Dennis: And you pointed out, throughout your book: “All of life is one long journey of walking by faith.” Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith, it is impossible”—I want you to think about that for a second—“And without faith, it is impossible to please God.” He’s spelled it out. What does He want us to do? Surrender, trust Him, and walk by faith.
We may not be blessed with quadruplets. [Laughter] The answer may be, “No,”—
Dennis: —or it may be the Ethiopian adoption; but what God wants us to do is, as we wait—to keep on believing the right thing about Him and to keep on trusting Him.
Bob: Well, and part of that process is learning to believe that God’s answer to your prayer is the better “Yes,” than the one that you asked for. A lot of times, we go in prayer and we say, “Lord, this is what I want.” God may say, “No,” and we’re disappointed; but God’s “Yes,”—we learn later—was a better answer than the “Yes,” we were asking Him for in the first place.
This is where we have to learn to trust the character and the goodness of God. It’s a part of what you point us to in the book that you’ve written that’s called Risky Faith: Becoming Brave Enough to Trust the God Who Is Bigger than Your World.
We’ve got copies of Susan’s book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can go, online, to request your copy; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY. The website is FamilyLifeToday.com.
Let me also mention that your book that you wrote with Dennis’s wife Barbara, which is called Barbara and Susan’s Guide to the Empty Nest, has just recently been revised and expanded and is out as a brand-new book. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com for information about Barbara and Susan’s Guide to the Empty Nest as well. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call if you have any question or if you’d like to order by phone—1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, this weekend is obviously a significant weekend for all of us who are followers of Christ.
It’s the weekend that we set apart annually to contemplate the death of Christ and to celebrate the good news of His resurrection—that death is finally defeated and that there is a way to eternal life, and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ. That reality undergirds everything that we’re about, here at FamilyLife. We believe that spiritual foundation is the only stable foundation on which solid marriages and families can be built. And we appreciate those of you who partner with us to make this ministry possible. You’re helping us reach more and more people in helping us address the subject of how the gospel message actually makes a real difference in all of your relationships—including your marriage and your parenting.
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And with that, we’ve got to wrap things up for this week. I hope you and your family are able to worship together and celebrate the resurrection of the Lord in your local church this weekend. And I hope you can join us back on Monday when we’re going to look at the most important priority we ought to have as parents; that is: “How can we help our children thrive spiritually?” We’ll address that subject on Monday. I hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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