Do you ever wonder, “is this as good as it gets?” Maybe on the outside, life seems good (marriage, kids, etc.), but you still hunger for abundant living–a life filled with purpose and meaning. How do we discover abundant living when we know Christ is our true sense of satisfaction and our source of unconditional love, but we don’t feel fulfilled and still feel an ache in our hearts for more?
In today’s episode, you’ll hear from Wendy Pope, a speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries and author of several books, including Yes, No, and Maybe, which helps Christian women rediscover the path to deep satisfaction in God and in life. Wendy has some powerful insights on seeking God, saying no to our self-sufficiency, and maybe to some decision-making aspects of controlling our lives to find that ultimate satisfaction in Him.
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:
- [7:03] Wendy’s journey of emptiness as she asked, “Is this as good as it gets?”
- [14:35] Finding abundant living as we submit ourselves to God
- [23:49] How chasing after God brings the deep satisfaction we seek
- [30:26] Cultivating trust with God as we say “yes” to obedience
- [34:08] Laying down self-sufficiency to discover abundant living
- [43:05] Partnering with God for freedom in decision making
[7:03] Wendy’s journey of emptiness as she asked, “Is this as good as it gets?”
Wendy starts by giving us a complete picture of her background so that we can understand how she got to the point of emptiness in her life. She doesn’t boast but purely wants to set the stage for that moment of revelation in her life. She was born and raised in the church. It took her parents a while to conceive her, so everyone in church prayed over them, her brother, and Wendy when she was conceived.
She grew up singing in the choir, doing Bible drills with other kids, and fully immersing herself in the church. She married the man of her dreams, and they had a beautiful life together down to the home, the fast car (and very soon) two children.
But very quickly, while pregnant with her second child, Wendy began wondering if this was all life had to offer. She was doing all the right things and knew so much about the Bible and church itself – but emptiness crept in. She began asking the question: “Is this as good as it gets?”
Wendy mentions the only thing that will fulfill us is a relationship with Jesus, yet so many miss the abundant life that is possible in that relationship. She mentions John 10:10 in that while Jesus promises an abundant life in Him, many of us don’t understand what it means to really discover that true life abundance in Christ. We don’t understand our part in receiving that abundant life and that it flows from a heart submitted to God.
Wendy wondered: “Am I going to be living the rest of my life like this? Empty inside, but longing for more purpose and meaning?” She found that she’d filled her life with everything the world tells us will make us happy and bring us joy, but still wasn’t satisfied. Wendy shares how her husband said nine words to her that changed her life – she didn’t make their home a place he wanted to be in. Those intense words from her husband did sting, but they caused her to begin questioning her life. She could either get mad at her husband and rip their family apart or let God heal her and help create a better life for her family. She truly believes it was a divine intervention of the Holy Spirit that her sweet, loving husband said those words to her.
[14:35] Finding abundant living as we submit ourselves to God
Given this phenomenon going on in her life, Wendy started looking to the Bible. That may seem like the obvious place for a Christian to go, but that’s not always the case, she says. Often we distract ourselves by going to the store or going online; or we vent our feelings to a best friend for sympathy.
Wendy chose to submit herself to the Lord – even though she didn’t fully understand what that meant at the time. She’s ashamed to admit that, but now 20 years past this season of emptiness – she knows that God has worked a miracle in her life. So even though she had been saved all her life, she wasn’t living in the fullness of what God had to offer her. So she began chasing after God by digging into the Bible more.
Wendy shares that chasing after God isn’t something we can get from just going to church on Sundays and having God’s word preached to us by a pastor. As Wendy calls it, your spiritual tank can’t be filled just by letting others preach and speak to you. We have to step into God's word along with the Holy Spirit leading us to fill up our spiritual tank.
Wendy challenges those reading Yes, No, and Maybe, whether believers or unbelievers, to rediscover your path in life and with God for more profound satisfaction or immeasurably more. She recommends first that we must truly learn to read and study the Bible. This doesn’t mean we have to have a theology degree to understand the Bible. Instead all it takes is reading the Bible and allowing the Holy Spirit to offer understanding.
Wendy started reading Psalm One which talks about how the blessed person plants themselves like a tree by the river. Then Wendy moved to the next chapter in the book of Psalms, which took her 150 days to get through the 150 Psalms. She describes herself as not the best reader and she admits she didn’t want to read the Bible, but she knew that if she wanted to receive God’s abundance and have a more intimate relationship with Him, she had to do the work to submit and obey God’s word.
Because of reading Psalms, Wendy met many people like David and felt like she was reading her own story. In one chapter, David asked God how long he would be in his situation – four times. She met people in Psalm who were coming to God more personally, and Wendy had never done that before. So she started envisioning herself kneeling before Jesus by a chair she called her ‘Jesus chair’. She started talking to him as if He was right there about the things that bothered her – in her marriage, her children, and so on.
God didn’t immediately fix those things going on in her life, but He started holding a mirror to her face and showing her what she needed to ‘fix’ in herself to get back on track with His plan (the best plan for her). She started meeting with God before being with her family because she admits that when she didn’t meet with God she would sometimes show up as the Incredible Hulk. Everyone in her family knew where to find her if she wasn’t in bed in the mornings. She still meets with God, in the same way today, with every morning, spending time with Him.
[23:49] How chasing after God brings the deep satisfaction we seek
Wendy continued to chase after God and to make herself available to Him each day through Bible reading and prayer. She learned that God’s words and commands aren’t burdensome. She mentions how Peter says in the Bible that God wants us to live in harmony or peace with others and to take responsibility for mending fences with people – not to harbor unforgiveness. This is where the abundance in Christ is found, Wendy says, through God and His word. She calls it a ‘beautiful dance’ where you and the Holy Spirit connect through God’s word.
She continues by saying that even though we think things are beautiful during a season of our lives, it is still not as good as it gets until our physical bodies die and we meet God face to face in heaven. So until then, Wendy wants to continue submitting to Christ, talking to Him, and being obedient to Him. Wendy says that often obedience as a path to abundance isn’t a popular topic on a Sunday morning. That’s not to say she’s knocking all churches, sermons, or pastors for the message being preached, but she is saying that it is our responsibility to fill our spiritual tanks.
[30:26] Cultivating trust with God as we say “yes” to obedience
There are three principles mentioned in Wendy’s book, Yes, No, and Maybe about obedience, self-sufficiency, and using our God-given freedom to help Him make decisions in our lives. Wendy says these principles are the secret key to an abundant life by which you seek God and obey His Word.
The first one talks about saying Yes to God, which means being obedient to Him. Wendy mentions how she was conditioned to think that saying yes to God meant He would send you on foreign mission trips or a mission trip to your home. Wendy was stubborn and felt her way was best over God’s ultimate plan, but obedience comes in to work against your nature or manner of doing things and doing things the way God would have you do them.
In her book, Wendy shares that Yes cultivates trust in God. So in her life, God started working on little things like her attitude and how she treats her family. Wendy says that if we can’t obey the first step God gives us, then He isn’t going to provide us with the next step.
Wendy explains that we will get to a point in this first principle of the phenomenon of saying Yes to God where we will enjoy this dance even if the Holy Spirit has us doing things we don’t particularly enjoy; we do them to please your Heavenly Father. Wendy describes this relationship with God as a ‘secret best friend’ because, as we obey him, we deepen our relationship with Him and get to see His humorous side, for example.
[34:08] Laying down self-sufficiency to discover abundant living
This next principle is about laying down our self-sufficiency and our self-centeredness and beginning to become more like Christ. Saying No reveals God and reveals revelation from God about who we are.
We start thinking, “How are we created, and what are we supposed to do with our lives?” This is learned by saying no to ourselves, which is counterculture or counter our nature, and like Louie Giglio says in his book, “I am not that I know I am,” meaning it’s almost like a daily funeral. We no longer exist, but Christ is within us to do His will and glorify His name. Whatever we do each day belongs to the Lord.
So even though God is starting to get in our business about our lives, He is not bullying us. He is revealing to us these things about our life that we need to fix in order to live according to His will. This is where most Christians stop when God tries to show them things they need to improve about themselves. This becomes more about how to live a life like your Heavenly Father, so she says don't ask the question if you don’t want to do that. Obedience is not necessary for salvation, Wendy points out, but it does mean that we can miss out on living a less-than-life.
Wendy says we have to decide to go all in with God! Whatever He asks us to do, we must do it. This is obedience. His word supplies the power in His will for us to obey Him – to be open to His will for our lives. Most people think that life is found in praising God with worship music, having bumper stickers with scripture, and feeling good about God, but it is about meeting with God when we are alone, reading His word, and letting His grace slowly reveal things to us. This kind of living can’t begin until we say Yes to God.
[43:05] Partnering with God for freedom in decision making
One thing that I wasn’t able to chat with Wendy about in this conversation was the third principle of this three-pronged approach. “Maybe” (the third element of how Wendy suggests we step into abundant living) is the freedom to make decisions about your life as you partner with God through the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Maybe allows for the gift of decision-making where God allows us to have some control over things going on in our lives. While we always must make decisions that line up with biblical truth (and we must obey God’s call) “maybe” gives us a permission slip from God to freely choose in those gray areas of life. “Maybe” is the fruit of saying yes to God and no to ourselves.
So whether you have gone to church to hear about God or you haven’t fully decided to commit your life to Christ, I want you to take some time to think this over. What is holding you back from fully surrendering to God? I invite you to get into the word, read Psalms, the Gospels, or any other part of the Bible, and begin to understand it for yourself so that you can have a deeper understanding of who He is and how you can surrender your life to Him. There is so much more on the other side of saying Yes to God, saying no to yourself, and having the freedom to make some decisions about your life with God.
CONNECT WITH WENDY:
OTHER PODCAST EPISODES ON FINDING SATISFACTION IN GOD:
- Ep 150: Rediscovering the Power of God’s Redeeming Love with Francine Rivers
- Ep 147: 3 Powerful Ways Christian Women Can Cultivate Godly Confidence with Trish Blackwell
- Ep 139: How to Break Free From Hopelessness and Find Hope in Times of Despair with Julie Sanford
- Ep 120: The Truth About Finding Contentment in God During Trials with Nicole Jacobsmeyer
- Ep 104: It’s Time to Take Action, Own Your Life + Find Spiritual Transformation
- Ep 90: Finding Joy + Peace When You Feel Stuck in Life
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