Getting Lost in Christ
About the Guest
What is your mission in life? If your answer is anything other than to glorify God you may be headed for trouble. Author Dannah Gresh talks about our natural tendency to look for things other than God to fill us, and reminds us that those things, including relationships, can easily become idols if we're not careful. Dannah encourages young women to reestablish their faith by feasting on God and His word for 10 days. That means taking a break from dating for awhile in order to?focus on the Lord.
Author Dannah Gresh talks about our natural tendency to look for things other than God to fill us, and reminds us that those things, including relationships, can easily become idols if we’re not careful.
Getting Lost in Christ
Bob: In order for our relationships with one another to work the way they were designed to work, our relationship with the Designer has to be working right. Dannah Gresh says there’s a connection between relationships and worship.
Dannah: As an introvert, I worship God in the quiet. The church really is an extroverted experience. The church, of old, respected the solitude—it respected quiet. We don’t really—we like to fill the space.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, January 2nd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. How you worship really does impact your relationships at home. We’re going to talk more about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us.
You know, it is interesting to be a part of a ministry that is involved with marriage and family. Our mission, here at FamilyLife, is to effectively develop godly marriages and families who change the world, one home at a time.
Bob: We want to see every home become a godly home; yet, we’ve talked, often, about the fact that marriage and family—like anything else in life—can be an idol. It can get in the way of your relationship with Jesus. When it does, it’s not a good thing; is it?
Dennis: Marriage and family are meant to be a product of living rightly with God, and walking with Him, and applying what the Scriptures say. We’ve got a guest with us today, Dannah Gresh, who has written a book that doesn’t sound like it’s on the same topic; but it is. She’s written a book called Get Lost. It’s about, really, finding God—and losing yourself, in essence—and finding Him and a right relationship with Him. Dannah—welcome back.
Dannah: Thank you. It’s great to be back.
Dennis: First of all, explain your premise of what the book’s all about.
Dannah: Well, it’s really about overcoming our tendencies to reach out for loves that aren’t enough and to get lost in God’s love. The way that I do it—the process I use—is by asking the reader to submit to ten days of feasting on God’s love. That’s what I call it—The Love Feast—just feasting on His Word / on worship. Feast on what is truly nourishing to our souls so that we can have these other things—these other gifts from God—in proper balance.
Bob: Who was the woman you had in mind when you were writing this book? What is she dealing with?
Dannah: Well, the women I wrote it for were my girls. I wanted them to learn through my wisdom. There are some things I hope my kids don’t learn on the hot pavement of life. Obviously, there are lessons God has for them; but I wrote it for them. So, it’s really for the 20-plus-year-old single woman.
What has shocked me is how many moms have read it before they’ve given it to their daughters and said, “Aww, I have fallen in love with Jesus again! I forgot—He’s enough!” And you know what’s relieving to their husbands?— is it’s frustrating for a man to be in a relationship where—if I’ve tried to get from Bob what only God can give me—he stands there in shell-shock, like: “I don’t know how to help you! I don’t know what to give you! I don’t know what to do for you!” because I need something from God—not from Bob.
Bob: So, if a woman is finding her sense of identity—sense of well-being—in the attention of a young man, or the approval of her husband, or any number of things—
Bob: —this whole issue of ten days on this Love Feast that you’re talking about is really to reprioritize and put Jesus back where He belongs in your life.
Dannah: That’s right.
Bob: Where’s the starting point for that?
Dannah: You know, I think the starting point, for me, is Song of Solomon—the very first chapter. The woman cries out, “Draw me and I will run after you!” The fact is—so many times, we white-knuckle our relationship with God. We just think: “I know I’m supposed to do this. I know I’m supposed to wake up and have devotions. I know I’m supposed to put Him first. I know I’m supposed to love Him.” But we, in and of ourselves, don’t naturally desire those things.
It’s interesting, to me, that in the great love story of the Scriptures—in Song of Songs—we find the lover saying, “Would you draw me?” That’s really where it started with me, when I was a young woman, and where I start the reader in this book. On Day One of The Love Feast, I say: “The first thing you have to do is just pray that prayer of: ‘Lord, draw me.’”
This is where we really start—we get to talk about the Holy Spirit, which is such a controversial—I don’t know why—but we’re scared of that word. We all have different visions of how it works. What we can agree on is that He’s alive and well. It is His purpose to train us, communicate to us, guide us, counsel us, and comfort our hearts. We have to be intimately acquainted with Him. I meet women—all of the time—who are afraid because they’re afraid of: “Well, this person, here, has got it this way,” and, “This person seems to have all these bells and whistles.”
I met this young woman, named Ashley, in my church, who knew God—she was saved—but she didn’t know God’s Spirit. She wasn’t in relationship with Him. I just began to talk with her about the Holy Spirit. I said, “Every day when you wake up, just say, ‘Holy Spirit, draw me.’” She went from a girl, who—her countenance, at church, was one of darkness and sadness—wanting to be there because she knew she should be there—but not really getting anything out of it—not loving it. It was just routine and mundane to her—to—several weeks after asking this: “Draw me, Holy Spirit, and I will run after you.”
She came to church, one day, with a friend. We had watched her countenance begin to lighten up. We didn’t know that this friend was a friend that didn’t know the Lord. Not only did she bring her to introduce her to Jesus; but during the worship time, she knew exactly the moment she was to turn to this friend and invite her to have some prayer time with her. That friend came to know the Lord that night. When I approached Ashley that night, and said: “You know—what happened here?”
She said, “I’m just so full of God’s Spirit—it just kind of spills out of me now.” That’s the experience that many women, who have done the ten-day Love Feast, have written to me about. They’re saying: “It just kind of spills out of me now. I don’t have to force it. It’s not routine. It’s not what everybody’s telling me to do. It’s what God’s Spirit is just welling up inside of me, and I have to do this—whatever it is—go on a missions trip, worship, pray with someone, wake up in the morning and have the first thing on your mind be Jesus. It just wells up out of you.”
Bob: And it just begins with, “Draw me,”—just asking God to draw you closer.
Dannah: Yes. I think it’s that simple.
Dennis: And I’m thinking of two women, right now, who we might be speaking to. One woman, who’s listening to what you’re talking about and she’s going, “I’m not sure I’ve got a relationship with God.” To that person—she or, for that matter, he—needs to understand the love of God and what He did for her, in Jesus Christ.
As you were talking earlier, I thought of First John, Chapter 4, where it says, “In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” He sent Christ to do, on our behalf, what we couldn’t do for ourselves—which is pay the price for all the wrongdoings we have done—and to not only die for our sins but to defeat death—come back from the grave—and He is alive today. He can forgive a woman or a man for whatever they have done.
As you ask God to come near—as you ask God to pursue you—that may be the first step for you.
Dennis: For the other woman, who already knows God, you’re speaking about the Holy Spirit. She has the Holy Spirit within her.
Dennis: He came to guide us into truth, to comfort us, to teach us, and to convict us. I think it’s important for the woman, who wants to surrender to God’s love, to understand His work in her soul.
Dannah: And I would say, too, that the Holy Spirit is a creative love. He comes to us, all, uniquely and differently. When He comes to me, two things tend to happen—one is—I cry, and it’s not pretty. I’m not a natural crier—I’m not a big crier; but when God’s Spirit speaks to me, that’s how He comes. The other way He speaks to me is just the written Word. I can hardly stand at church on Sunday mornings because I love to feast on the Word. His Spirit just comes alive in me in that.
You might be like me. He might just come to you in really normal regular ways, but I’m so sure that He comes. I am so sure that He’s there.
Bob: You talk about worship being one of the things that draws you into this deeper love relationship with Jesus. Are you talking about singing hymns in the car? What are you talking about?
Dannah: Well, I think, there again, the Holy Spirit works in us all so differently. For me, music is a big part of that; and I think it helps. For my husband, jumping on the tractor and being out in the field with God is a much bigger worship experience for him—being alone, out there, with God. I think we have to stop putting each other in worship boxes.
The critical thing is that our heart is set on Him and that, in that worship, He inhabits it.
It says in the Bible that He “inhabits the praise of His people.” He comes into that place. So, when we’re intentional about worshipping—whether it’s jumping on a tractor and being in a field with God or whether it’s turning on our iPod and listening to music in the morning—He comes, and He fills us. He fills us for the day.
Dennis: And I want all three of us to answer this question because I don’t think you can put this in a box. All of us have unique ways of worshiping God. What, for you, creates worship? Bob, how would you answer that?
Bob: Honestly, for me—if I’m reading about the character of God, if I’m studying theology and understanding God better—that’s what draws me to worship. Our friend, Wayne Grudem, in his Systematic Theology, wisely put a hymn text at the end of every chapter—with the idea that, after you read this chapter on theology, the right response is to sing praise to God. I think he’s pretty right.
Dennis: Dannah, what about you?
Dannah: Solitude—just quiet. I’m just coming into the realization, as a very strong introvert, that that’s okay—that I need that. I always felt like that was weak.
To all the introverts out there, listening—the church really is an extroverted experience. The church, of old, respected the solitude; and it respected quiet. We don’t really—we like to fill the space. We like to: “Turn to the person next to you and say, ‘Hello,’ and shake hands, and give a hug.” As an introvert, I do love that in my church because I love the people in my church; but, as an introvert, I worship God in the quiet. I feel Him very actively alive and well in my spirit when I can just get 20, or 30, or 40 minutes, or an hour alone with Him.
Dennis: As I’m listening to you, I think, “What’s your definition of an introvert?” because I don’t think of you as being—[Laughter]
Dannah: Well, you know, I’m reading this wonderful book called Quiet right now. New research really indicates that introversion isn’t necessarily about whether you like or don’t like people so much as it is how much stimulation you’re able to handle around us.
Dannah: My husband’s a man who loves a lot of stimulation all around him. He likes crazy stuff going on. I like quiet.
Dennis: Well, that’s interesting. I’m an extrovert; but I, increasingly, like the solitude. Just give me my chair—and I’ve got a book I’ve been reading through for a long time— it’s Moody’s sermons—and I’ve got my Scriptures that I read there. I just enjoy the quiet.
Dennis: Nothing—just allowing God to speak and being able to pray. Like you, Bob, the character of God brings about worship in my spirit. I need that. I think, also, at points, for worship—I think we have to draw together with the body of Christ. I think we need to get together with other believers—sing those hymns together, participate in the Lord’s Supper, be reminded of our redemption, and hearing stories of other people’s salvation.
Dennis: I think we need that in our soul. That brings worship to me. In fact, one of the most worshipful things, for me, is to be able to see a baptism and to hear the stories.
Dannah: Yes, beautiful!
Dennis: It really is spectacular.
Bob: And, Dannah, you mentioned that one of the things that draws you closer to God and returns the preeminence of God is when you get a right perspective on yourself—when you see yourself accurately, based on what He says is true about you, rather than the lies you, sometimes, believe about yourself.
Dannah: That’s right. Getting lost in His eyes so that you can see what He sees. That’s not easy. You know what? I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s harder for girls than it is for guys. There’s something in us—when we were created in the image of God, part of what we were to portray is the beauty of God.
When women struggle with beauty and believing that they’re beautiful, that it’s not just about what we see in the mirror. It’s very clearly a fist fight between our Maker—the Master artist who created each one of us—and Satan just does not like seeing us embrace the beauty that God has created in us. That’s one of the areas I write about in here because it is one of the hardest areas, for women, to be confident in and to see themselves in His eyes.
Bob: I read an article, years ago, where a number of well-paid supermodels were asked to do a self-evaluation of their own physical appearance.
Bob: These are women who are paid millions of dollars a year to be on the covers of magazines because they are the standard of beauty.
Bob: Most of these women gave themselves a “seven” on a ten-point scale—and could point out to you all of the things that were wrong with them, in terms of their body-image.
Bob: Do you think it’s endemic in every woman that she looks at herself and sees the flaws?
Dannah: She certainly seems to—she certainly seems to have a proclivity toward believing the lies, too, because Eve, at the base of the tree, was the first one to believe what the serpent said.
Dannah: That could probably be a big theological debate; but in Lies Young Women Believe, Nancy Leigh DeMoss and I said we think women probably are more prone to believe lies than men are—and especially, in this area of seeing themselves as valuable, as beautiful, and as having worth. It was a struggle, for me—it was a struggle, for me, for two reasons—one—because I had sinned when I was a teenager. I felt like—I don’t believe it was true—but I felt like I was surrounded by picture-perfect Christians, who never had done anything wrong—
who had never thought the thoughts that were in my head—whose hands had never done the things my hands had done—whose mouth had never spoken the words mine had spoken. Certainly, none of the believers in my church had done those things. So I just felt sinful and dirty—like the sinful woman in Luke 7.
But also, because what we don’t understand, as women, is that our beauty does not come from what we do or don’t do—it doesn’t come from what’s on the outside. The Bible says our true beauty comes from what’s inside. What happened to me, in college, is—I began to get lost—during those ten months of not being with a guy—but just being with God. I got into His Word. I got into His Word because I was desperate to be healed of the hurt and the emptiness in me.
I just realized one day that I was looking in the mirror, and I hadn’t for years. The only conclusion I could come to—I didn’t look in the mirror and say: “Wow, Dannah! You are a babe!”
I mean, it wasn’t like that. It’s just that I was looking.
Bob: You weren’t turning your head away.
Dannah: I wasn’t turning my head away. I wasn’t self-loathing, and hiding, and going into my dorm room in tears. The only difference was that my heart was washed in the Word of God every day.
Dennis: One of the things I wanted you to comment on—you did a survey. I don’t even want to ask the question. I want you to explain it.
Dannah: Well, one of the things that I have studied, in great detail, is a woman’s perception of her beauty; especially, as it relates to relationships and sexuality. One of the studies that I saw done on the Penn State University campus was that college girls—who had their first sexual encounter during school, as unmarried young women, immediately—within the 24 hours following it—had a lower positive image of themselves.
They hated what they saw in the mirror the day after sex. I thought to myself: “That’s interesting because—what I know of the chemicals of sex—that a woman should feel phenomenal the next day—the chemicals of oxytocin, serotonin—and for men, vasopressin. All of these chemicals that wash over you during the act of sex make you feel confident, at peace, and should make you feel absolutely beautiful.”
So what’s happening, outside of marriage, is in complete contradiction of how God designed sex to work. I knew that to be true. So, I went looking for: “What happens in a married woman’s life when she’s intimate with her husband? Does she feel better the next day?” I couldn’t find anything. So, I sent out this Survey Monkey®. I have to say: “It’s not scientifically accurate. It’s just a trend. I’m looking for a trend.”
Dennis: Yes; and we need to explain what Survey Monkey is. It’s an online, inexpensive way to be able to find out what people think.
Dannah: Right. So, I sent out to over 100 of my friends. Now, these were all friends, who I knew to be in a phenomenal relationship with God. I also knew them to be in a marriage relationship that was thriving, in terms of being a picture of God’s love. I just asked them, “How did you feel about your bodies and your beauty before you were married?” Of course, they struggled—many of them struggled.
“What about after you married and you were in this relationship?” Through the roof, 100 percent of these women, almost, said, “I feel great about myself.” And, “How do you feel the day after sex?” “I feel really great about myself.” So what you’re seeing there is the relationship—the craving—being acted out in college—it is not enough. In fact, it has a negative effect on the woman.
Then, inside of a thriving, God-filled marriage, it fills them up and they’re satisfied. One of the surveys—that I always go back to—is scientifically-accurate, out of the University of Illinois, at Chicago. They found that the most sexually-satisfied women are religiously-active women; specifically, Protestant women. Here’s the thing—it’s not really about the relationship between the man and the woman. This survey is indicative of the fact that the woman is already satisfied—that God is enough—that her spirit already has what it needs. So, when she receives the gift of a physical love relationship—of a marriage-love relationship—it’s just a bonus. It’s just more.
Dennis: You’ve just exhorted all of us to seek God and pursue Him. That does make for a much better marriage / family. It doesn’t mean life will be perfect. It doesn’t mean that his flaws / her flaws are going to go away—
but it does mean you will be linked up with the One who understands, and who knows you, and can help you know how to handle life’s ups and downs. I think that’s really important today. We need encouragement. I think you’ve provided that encouragement.
Bob: It puts life in alignment because life was meant to be lived, first, vertically—your relationship with God. When that is what it’s supposed to be, then everything flows out of that the way it’s supposed to.
Dennis: And, Bob, that’s what the Weekend to Remember® does—our marriage getaways—that we have all across the country. Yes, it is a marriage conference to talk about how you relate to your spouse; but it is first-focused on how you relate, rightly, to God—understanding His purposes for marriage. It’s why all married folks really ought to, once a year, get away and invest in their marriage. Certainly, if not at the Weekend to Remember, something else that does fuel it, in terms of your spiritual depth and intimacy with God.
Bob: You can find out more about the Weekend to Remember when you go, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Of course, you and I are going to be together at an upcoming Weekend to Remember in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on Valentine’s night. I mean, how much better can you get than that?
Bob: Hershey, Pennsylvania—on Valentine’s night—with Dennis and me and our wives. Our friend, Dave Wilson, the chaplain of the Detroit Lions, is going to be there, as well, with his wife Ann. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about the Hershey Weekend to Remember or about any of the upcoming Weekend to Remember marriage getaways happening in 2014. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link that says, “Weekend to Remember”, to find out where there’s an event happening near you.
If you’d like information about the book that Dannah Gresh has written about the priority of our walk with God and how that orders all the other relationships in our lives, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. You can order Dannah’s book, Get Lost.
Or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY. You can request a copy of the book, as well. Again, the website: FamilyLifeToday.com; or call, toll-free, at 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
Now, we want to take a minute and again say, “Thank you,” to those of you who are regular listeners—who, during the month of December, made a year-end contribution to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. It really is humbling for us to stop and think that there are listeners, like you, who tune in every day and who spend time with us. We think through about what God’s Word has to say about relationships together. It’s meaningful enough to you that you would make a donation, at the end of the year, to help support this program and keep it on your local station. We do appreciate that. We want to say, “Thanks for that year-end support.”
The mail is still coming in. So, we’re still waiting to have a final number, in terms of how we finished out the year.
Thanks for praying for us. Again, thanks for your financial support. We’ll keep you posted on how things ended up in 2013. We’re looking forward to a great 2014 together.
And we hope you can be back again with us tomorrow. Dannah Gresh is going to be with us again. We’ll talk more about how our relationship with God is foundational to every other relationship in our lives. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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