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Nicki Koziarz: The 5 Best Decisions to Make When Life Is Hard

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
August 25, 2022 8:00 pm

Nicki Koziarz: The 5 Best Decisions to Make When Life Is Hard

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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August 25, 2022 8:00 pm

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It's not our questions for God that messes up our faith. It's our questioning of God.

And there's a big difference. So He can handle our doubts. He can handle our questions. He can handle our fears, our worries, our complaints, our grumbling. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson.

And you can find us at familylifetoday.com or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. So according to Barna, guess what percentage of Christians struggle with doubt in their faith? My first thought, and maybe it's coming out of my own personal experience, is it's pretty high. I think it's pretty high. I wouldn't have guessed that it's 65%. 65%. Yeah, I would say at least that. And then listen to this. Millennials, 38% currently experience about twice as much doubt as any of the other generational groups.

And then 23% of Gen Xers, 19% of Boomers, and 20% of Elders. Here's what I would want to know. And we've got in our studio a woman, I think, who can answer this question. Nikki Koziarz is back with us. Welcome back to Family Life Today.

Thanks for having me. And I'm guessing you're sort of quoting maybe some stats from her book, Flooded, which is the five decisions that we all need to make when doubt is rising. That's sort of a rephrase of your subtitle. Here's what I want to know. Nikki, do you remember if you wrote this at all? Men compared to women with doubt.

Is there a difference? I did not study that, but I would be interested to know that. Yeah, I looked it up.

You did? I thought this was interesting. And men are higher. 32% of men compared to 20% of women.

Wow. Which is interesting. Why do you think that is, Dave?

I don't know. You would have to tell me from a woman's perspective, but I know from a guy's perspective, it's all about logic often. Are you saying that we're illogical? No, no, no.

Careful. You got me. You just nailed me. No, I mean, it's like, you know, it's got to make sense.

I got to be able to see it, touch it. It doesn't really matter if I feel. I always say it's because women are so desperate and broken. We're having babies and we can't do it. And we lay before God and like, God help me.

That's because we're so broken. Yeah, but I mean, Nikki, we talked yesterday about, you know, you walk through the death of your brother, now since then, even the death of your mother. And you write about, you know, Noah.

Again, the title is Flooded, which is a perfect title for a book about Noah. But as you studied Noah, did he doubt? Because yesterday you said, no, he just really didn't. So that wasn't really a part of his- Well, it really just says Noah walked with God. Every time I read that, I think walked with God.

We talked about that yesterday. Do you think he never doubted? I mean, he listened, he obeyed God. We get that. But, you know, the Bible doesn't always give us the nuances of in-between, you know, as he's walking to go get another piece of wood and build this ark.

Is he thinking, what in the world am I doing? Again, I'm not saying he did or didn't. But when we go through hard times, doubt, well, you put it in the subtitle. Like, what do we do with that? Okay, let's talk about Noah for a second, because let's process this. And you know what, by the way, there aren't very many experts on Noah.

Well, I am not the expert on Noah. I like that we're processing together. I know, this is good.

This is good. It's like our own little Bible study here. So we don't in the Scriptures see Noah specifically say anything, actually, until the very end of the story where he speaks blessings and curses at the same time, okay? Unlike a story like Rachel and Leah, where there's so many words that, you know, we could study and unpack and, you know, and of course, we never know for sure, 100%, right?

That's exactly what they said. But we know what the Bible tells us, right? Yeah. We have no words from Noah. We just have these actions.

But because Noah had a wife and he had children and he was human, he was not Jesus, let's think about what it was like when Noah came home and told his wife about this assignment, okay? Because, I don't know, have you ever brought home a really big idea? Oh, yeah. Yeah, I've brought a few. Yeah, let's give thousands of dollars away. Let's start a church. That was one of my ideas, that she's like, are you crazy?

I said, do you want me to be a pastor's wife? Are you kidding? So yes, that's a great point. So see, like that probably, I mean, I think it would be safe to assume she wasn't like, sure, this sounds amazing, let's do this. You're going to build a boat? And everyone's going to die?

Okay. And also, okay, if that's not enough, he had children. And these most likely were young adult teenage age because they were entering into marriage themselves.

There was no grandchildren at this point. So it's safe to assume, you know, they were around the same age as my teenagers, okay? And I don't know if you've been around teenagers recently, but they are not the kindest people in the world.

And if you bring an idea that sounds anything uncool or dumb or out there, their reaction is not like, yeah, let's do this. Or all my friends are going to die? Yeah, thanks, Dad. Yeah. So think about the people in his community when, you know, it says that Noah was a preacher of righteousness. And, you know, there's a lot of debate about whether or not, you know, anyone else was going to be able to come into the ark, because God did give him the command that it would only be his wife and their sons and their wives, okay? And let's just say, too, the days must have been incredibly wicked for this to be going on, for God to come up with this decision. These were not moral, good, gracious people at that point.

No, no. Noah and his family were, but I'm just saying the rest. You know, whether or not Noah was telling, you know, like, hey, this is the purpose of this ark, he was preaching, you know, something bad is going to happen and we need to be prepared for this. And so think about the naysayers in his community, like, haha, like Noah over there building that dumb ark, like there was no immediate water like around him, right? It's not like he was going to push it out into the ocean. But I like that point. He's evangelizing.

He's trying to convert people to believe in God. And he didn't build it in a week. No. A hundred years. I mean, this is a long time. A lot of doubt can rise up.

Yeah. Think about all of the community, the family, I mean, the kids, like, just doing it just because, you know, a lot of hard situations that he was walking through. So he at least had doubt thrown at him. You know, I don't know what it was like for him to wrestle with God and to say, you know, God, I don't know if I heard you right about this or not because, again, we don't have that in the scriptures. But there's something about, as we talked about yesterday, when it says that Noah walked with God. There must have been a depth in intimacy with his walk with God that was pretty astounding for him to be so faithful for a hundred years building an ark. And you went to the ark encounter.

I did. What was that like in Kentucky? Oh, my goodness. You know, when we first pulled in, they were so gracious to give us like this behind the scenes tour. And, you know, our study trip was just really deep with them.

The people at the ark encounter sat down with me. I had tons of questions for them. And they did that because you were writing this book? Yes. Yeah. We reached out to them.

My publisher did. And I just remember the first time I stood at the bottom of the ark and realized, like, the massiveness of this assignment. I mean, it's four stories high. I mean, think about the building that we're in right now.

Two football fields long. And the people at the ark encounter, you know, they've taken a lot of creativity, you know, just what they would think. You know, where the animals would go and the water system and things like that. But all of those things had to be thought through.

And so I was overwhelmed when I was there. Like, just thinking about the detail. And, you know, one of the things that God's teaching me right now is that He's a God who is very intentional. Like, there are no coincidences with God. When He says something, when He gives you a plan, it's with great intention.

When I was looking at just all the intentional details, you think through, like, oh, yeah. Like, I mean, we have this farm, right? It takes me 30, 40 minutes just to feed 10, 20 animals every single day, right? Think about 3,000 animals that they had to feed and water in their poop. I mean, it had to smell horrible on that ark. And the food for his family.

I mean, so many details that he would have to think all the way through with that. I'm thinking when you said that, I thought of Psalm 139 where God knits us together in our mother's womb. And as God was knitting Noah, He put in him everything that he would need, intellectually, physically, in order to build this ark. And I think of us as listeners, as people walking with Jesus, the things that you're walking through, whether it's doubt, whether you've lost someone, the hard transitions that maybe you're walking through, God knew when He knit you together what you would face, and He's equipped you to face that. And not only to face it, but to walk through it in victory if we can walk closely as Noah did with God. You wrote in your subtitle the five decisions that help us get through life when it's hard, you know, when doubt is rising. We talked yesterday, walk with God, again, from Noah's life, listen to God, here we are, decision number three is rise above the doubt. I've struggled with doubt, help me rise above. I'm guessing some of our listeners have struggled, maybe are right now just in a period of their life where they're gripped with doubt.

How do we rise above? Well, let's go back to Noah because he's the best teacher on this. When God told Noah, it actually says that He invited him into the ark. Okay, that's a beautiful reflection of what God does with us.

He doesn't force us in, He doesn't push us in, He invites us into His presence, right? So God invites Noah into the ark. And then this is one of my favorite parts of the biblical account of Noah. We see that Noah is standing at this door, and this, for me, would have been the hardest part of all of this, right? Yeah, building the ark was incredibly hard.

Convincing his family to come on there had to be a struggle. But then he's in this place where he really sees the water starting to come, and he sees the rain. This is the part where, can we just be real for a second, this is not a children's story.

Like, I decorated my daughter's nursery in the Noah and the Ark theme. Like, nothing says sweet dreams like mass destruction worldwide, right? Like, not a children's nighttime story.

Exactly. But think about it, the screams that he would be hearing from his neighbors, the people running to the ark, because they realized, like, he really did know. Closing the door to the ark would have been the hardest thing for, I feel like for a human, to see all the people and to hear the cries.

And it says that the Lord shut him in. And I thought, that is such God's kindness in this story. Because see, we can look at this story and we can say, this is just mean. Like, why would God, you know, just wipe out humanity like this?

It just, it feels mean. But this is where we see that it's either we can see God's meanness or we can see God's mercy. And so, he closes the door. He does the hardest part of that assignment. And that is a beautiful reflection of what Jesus did on the cross.

He already did the hardest part for us, okay? So, when we come into the ark, which is our salvation, that moment where we invite Jesus to live inside of us and we decide to follow after him for the rest of our lives, the hardest part is done. But then it's up to us to access the power and the authority that is in the ark, the salvation, right? So, as Noah's in the ark, and all of this doubt is outside of the ark, and the ark starts to rise.

And I'm sure the screams stopped. And it continues to rise and it continues to rise and it continues to rise and rise and rise. And we see that Noah is in this place where everything that tried to knock him down, to discourage him from believing and trusting in God is no longer there. He's in that ark and he's safe and he's rising and rising and rising. And when we start to think about our hard seasons and the things that try to knock us down when it comes specifically to doubt, we've got to make that decision that we're going to come into the ark and we're going to declare God's power and his authority and his goodness and his mercy over our lives and decide to stay put and just keep rising. Some days, it's really hard.

Let's just be really honest. But remember, God shut that door. You don't have to shut that door. He already did the hardest part, and now our job is to stand in the ark and to keep rising above the things that want to sink us. You know, it's interesting when I hear you describe it that way, which is such a beautiful way to describe it. I never really thought the way you just, I mean, I never thought about hearing screams.

I did. I've never thought of that, which is a whole other dimension of the story, but here's what just hit me, is often to rise above the doubts, I don't feel like I have it in me. But if I put myself in Christ, in the ark in a sense, he rises us up. It's like, just trust me, hold on to me, I'll take care of your doubts.

You're not going to be able to muster it up with enough intellectual knowledge. It's just like, would you just cling to me, I'll rise you. Because, I mean, when you said that, this is what I saw. It's like, okay, no, it's just in the ark where you're supposed to be, God lifted above. So, in some sense, that's how we rise in Christ. Okay, so we've got three decisions down. The fourth one is, remember who's in charge. You know, in our Christian culture, we're big on saying things like, God is in control.

And He is. He is sovereign over everything. But I think when we think about control from a human perspective, we think of it like, I'm going to move this bottle here, and I'm going to do this, and I'm going to do that. And it's like grabbing hold of things, right, like in control. But I have really been challenged, especially through that season, because a lot of people said that to me. Like, God is in control.

And absolutely He was, but I was not feeling it, okay. And so I did one little shift in my mind. My husband is a cross-country coach in our little town. And one of the things that I always find very interesting is he goes out there with this plan, and he'll tell his athletes, he's like, okay, you got to go out this time. You got to do this.

You got to do that. Like, he presents the plan to them, right. But they're teenagers, and we're really being harsh on the teenagers, but we love them. But, you know, they get out there, and they're like, I'm just going to do whatever I want to do. And so they take off, and they don't go the right pace, and they're not, you know, hydrated or things like that. And then they get to the end of the race, and they come up to my husband.

They're like, oh, man, coach, what did I do wrong? And he's like, I gave you the plan, and you didn't follow it. When we think about God being in charge, like, God has the plan.

He has already designed everything out. But God is not moving us around like puzzle pieces or chess. Like, we're not in a chess game, and he is sovereign. He is seeing over everything. But he gives us options.

Can I just say that? Like, sometimes God will be like, okay, well, you could do this job, or you could do this job. Like, I think sometimes we get it all messed up in our heads that we think God only has this one way to do everything. But when we remember that God is in charge of the plan, but we're in control of our obedience, that's when the shift starts to happen in our faith, because he gives us the plan through his word.

He gives us options. But then it's up to us to remember that he's in charge, but we've got to obey. What did that look like for you as you were going through this doubt, the grieving, that hard spell? Again, this is where it comes back to that place where our questions for God are okay, but the questioning of God becomes dangerous. And this was one of those places where, you know, I would find myself coming before God in prayer going, this is wrong.

He's got these three kids. We're going to have all these struggles, all these issues. Like, I don't understand this. And we start to kind of tell God, hey, this would have been my plan.

This would have been my agenda. Like, oh, Lord, here it is. Bless it, right? Or if you would have healed them, you could have gotten so much glory.

So much glory, God. Oh, yes, I prayed that. But we have to remember, this kind of goes back to what we were talking about before, that there are things on this side of eternity that will never make sense to the human mind. The ark and Noah's biblical account is one of those things where, you know, we talk about the screams and things like that. That may never make sense to us. But we have to trust that God has a bigger picture in mind. It's kind of like when you're flying. You know how when you look out the window, you look down and you see how small earth really is and how small we really are?

Like, I hope I never lose that perspective. Because when God is looking down on earth, he sees the whole picture and the whole story. And he's got the whole plan. When we remember that he's in charge of the plan, I'm in control of my obedience, I don't want to say it settles our soul, but it can help us to continue to do what he tells us to do.

Because we don't get to that place of unbelief and just go, Well, you didn't follow my plan, God, so I'm out. So walk us through the last decision. Find the familiar faithfulness of God.

That's David Ann Wilson with Nikki Koziarz on Family Life Today. We'll hear about what she calls her favorite part of the book coming up in just a second. But first, our mission at Family Life is to pursue the relationships that matter most.

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Again, you can give online at FamilyLifeToday.com or by calling 800-358-6329. That's 800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word Today. All right, now back to Dave and Anne's conversation with Nikki Koziarz and what it means to find the familiar faithfulness of God. After Noah goes through this long year on this ark, a lot of people get confused and they think it was only 40 days and 40 nights.

He was on there for a whole year. When Noah gets to the point where he's like, okay, maybe we're done here. It's time to start figuring out what's next. This is the part of the text that I really enjoyed studying because this is the part we don't see God come to Noah and give him these very specific instructions. And this is where I kind of go back to that concept of sometimes he gives us options. Noah was a smart guy. He knew how to figure some things out, so Noah knows that he needs to send out these birds. And he starts with the raven, and then he sends out the dove.

And the dove is the one that brings back the olive branch, and he knows it is time to come out of the ark. But let's think about this because let's just go back to the pandemic because I think that's one we can all identify with, even still. Those two weeks when we were all in that total lockdown and it was time to come back out, it was weird, right? We would go to the grocery store and nobody was looking at each other. We're walking down certain sides of the aisle that are marked off.

Those arrows. Yeah, I was on the wrong side every time. Me too. Or I turned the wrong way and I'm like, oh, I got to go the other way.

Yeah. When we went back to church, it was really weird. Do we hug?

Do we handshake? Nothing felt really familiar. In fact, I would say it still doesn't totally feel like it did in 2019, right?

It feels really uncomfortable. But think about Noah when he was coming out of the ark and looking at this world. I mean, we just talked about the whole earth was covered in water. When a flood happens, it destroys everything. So there were no mountains, there were no trees, there was no green grass. I always had this picture that Noah opened up the ark and it was like this pretty rainbow in the sun and green pastures. Yeah, that's what it shows in the little kids' books.

Right, right. But no, there was none of that. It was all mud. And so he's looking out and then the reality settles in that his neighbors are gone. His family is gone, his nieces and nephews, his cousins, his uncles, everyone is gone.

And life as he knew it was totally different. And he's looking out and I'm so challenged by Noah's first reaction because you want to know the first thing that he did? He builds an altar and he begins to sacrifice and worship God. I don't know when I go through something hard that that's my first reaction.

My first reaction tends to be like, I'm going to sit here and cry and I'm going to be really upset and maybe watch too much Netflix or things like that. But what a picture for us of when we go through something hard and to come out on the other side to get to that place of worship and sacrifice before God. And I think that Noah knew, again, we don't see God command him to do that, but he knew I got to get in the presence of God.

And that was how he was going to do it. And so as he did that, we see the rainbow and the promises and everything starts to come to full circle with the story. But he's still left with the reality of what is still to come, this whole new life that he's going to have to build. And when I think about losing my mom and my brother and then my dad moved away shortly after that, that's what the last few years have been like. God, none of this feels familiar. None of this feels right.

None of this feels normal. I just want to be a family again. I just want to have one more Thanksgiving, one more Christmas. And God just keeps reminding me, get back to my familiar faithfulness because that's where the healing and the wholeness is.

And so as a human, we're going to long for those things while we're here on this earth. It's not going to go away, but God's presence, it never leaves us, but it's up to us to find it in every season. I'm just wondering if you would just close by praying for us. Like there's so many that are listening that are probably thinking, that's where I am.

I just have nothing and I need to do that. So will you pray for them? Absolutely.

Yeah. So God, we thank you for Noah's legacy that he has left for us to follow. And I just pray over the listener right now who is looking into the future and it just feels really hopeless. And they're craving that familiar place, whether it's a person or a place or a job or something that has been part of their life and it is no more.

And they're just craving that. God, I pray that right now you would step down and you would fill that craving with your presence. And Lord, I pray that you would remind us that it is our decision to get into your presence and that we have to do our part, God, but that you are always faithful to meet us when we do our part and we show up in your presence, Lord. God, I pray that you would continue to use the biblical account of Noah to encourage us. I'm reminded of the verse in Matthew that it says that Jesus will return as it was in the days of Noah.

And Lord, I'm just going to be honest, it feels a little bit like we're heading in that direction right now. But Lord, I pray that we would not be discouraged and that we would find strength in your presence and in your power in obeying and walking with you, Lord. Thank you that no matter what comes our way, we can always return back to your presence. And I just pray that you would give every one of us today that certainty and that presence that comes when we enter into a place of worship and sacrifice before you.

In Jesus' name, amen. You've been listening to Dave and Anne with Nikki Koziarz on Family Life Today. Her book is called Flooded, The Five Best Decisions to Make When Life is Hard and Doubt is Rising. You can order a copy at familylifetoday.com. You know, I love this quote about Family Life's Art of Parenting Small Group Study. It says, we had a very diverse study group from six different countries. It was an amazing experience of evaluating how culture and upbringing impacts our parenting styles, sometimes in opposition to the truth of God's word. We all agreed that this course was instrumental in reorienting our beliefs and practices toward Christ-centered parenting.

That's incredible. Maybe the art of parenting could sharpen your awareness and tactics too. Well, right now you can save on all of our small group studies with the code 25OFF at familylifetoday.com.

That's 250FF. Now, coming up next week for parents, the teenage years can be frightening. Surges of hormones, body changes, struggling to find identity. The teenage years can be a confusing time for both you and your kids. Well, next week, David Ann Wilson will be joined by Gary Chapman to tell us all we need to know when preparing for teens. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of David Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. . .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-14 08:53:30 / 2023-01-14 09:05:27 / 12

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