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Beauty from Ashes - Beauty from Ashes, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
May 12, 2023 6:00 am

Beauty from Ashes - Beauty from Ashes, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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May 12, 2023 6:00 am

Do you really believe God has your best interests in mind? That He is actually good? In special program, guest speaker, Ryan Ingram, answers those questions through a touching interview his mom Theresa. She shares her story of coming to know Jesus and how she navigated challening and painful circumstances by trusting in the unfailing goodness of her Heavenly Father.

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Do you really believe that God is good? I mean, that He has your best interest in mind?

I mean, even when circumstances and relationships are really, really hard. Well, stay with me. You won't want to miss today's message. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram.

Living on the Edge is an international discipleship ministry focused on helping Christians live like Christians. Today we're interrupting our series from Ryan Ingram on prayer to share something special with all of you. In fact, Chip's joined me in studio to quickly tell you what we're going to do.

Thanks so much, Dave. You know, Mother's Day weekend is coming, and of all the people that need encouragement, I think it's mothers. And recently, my son Ryan interviewed my wife Teresa, and they share a story that is so deeply encouraging, especially maybe for moms that have been through some hard times. I think our listeners are really going to be blessed by it.

I agree, Chip. So let's dive right in as Ryan begins with a little setup to why Teresa's story is so meaningful. You know, as I was studying and wrestling with the goodness of God, I was talking to a friend, and she said, you know, yes, God is good, even when all evidence points to the contrary.

A.W. Tozer, in his classic knowledge of the holy, we've been traveling through that writes this, The goodness of God is that which disposes him to be kind, cordial, benevolent, and full of good will toward men. He is tenderhearted and of quick sympathy.

By his nature, he is inclined to bestow blessedness, and he takes holy pleasure in the happiness of his people. I asked my mom to join me, which is really fun. And mom, why don't you come on out today. This is the first time we've ever gotten to share a stage. Thank you for welcoming her. I have this.

You can go ahead and grab a seat. A major reason was, as I thought about the goodness of God, while all evidence points to the contrary, you can look back at your life right now and go, wow, God has been so good. Four amazing kids, I might add, that you had. All married.

One in particular is really great. Annie, the daughter. You have 12 grandkids. God's using your life. You just wrote a book as well, Precious in His Sight. And yet, the beginning of your story, I would say all evidence pointed to the contrary. And I would love just for you to share your story. How did you come to know Jesus? What was a little bit of your background?

Well, my life has been really interesting, and it certainly is a lot different than I thought it would be. I grew up in a very small rural area in West Virginia. I can hardly explain it to you because most of you wouldn't be able to relate.

It's in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. A lot of the people in my town, which was very, very small, lived up what we called hollers. And there were a lot of poor people and just people that were struggling a lot.

And that was my environment for 12 or more years growing up, going to school. So it was a lonely life for me. My mother didn't drive, so we were stuck at home all the time. And she was a fearful person. She was very quiet. She didn't talk very much, and she was afraid to go out and do things. In fact, she would send me, when I was old enough, to go and do some of the things that she didn't want to do. So she's a sweet, sweet mom, and I love her dearly. But she really never expressed to us outwardly in her words or with hugs that she loved us.

And I'm not sure why, because I knew that she did because of the way she took care of us. And my dad, it was a totally different story. My dad was an alcoholic.

I would see him drinking as soon as he got up in the morning. Every morning, he had to have a drink to start the day. He was very strict with all of us.

There were three girls in our family, and he was very strict. We had to stay home almost all the time. We lived away from people.

So we didn't have a lot of interaction and a lot of opportunities. I hear about all the opportunities that young people have today, and I just feel like, oh my gosh, what would I have been if I had had those opportunities? But the thing is, I was right where God wanted me to be. That's where he brought me into this life, and I learned, and I grew.

I learned to work hard. And my best friends were my dog and the animals. We had farm animals, and I loved books. That's how I spent my summers, was waiting on the bookmobile to come through so I could get books to read. And I would read, and I loved music, and just things that I could do alone.

And it was all those things that really soothed me during those times. Well, as I went through high school and under such a strict father, who I was terribly afraid of because he would punish us over the least little thing we did wrong. We felt like we had to be perfect all the time, and I couldn't be.

No one can be. And so when I graduated from high school, the first thing that I wanted to do was get away from there. I really rebelled in my heart.

I wanted more, and I knew that there was more out there for me, but I couldn't find it where I was. And so I fought with my dad that he would allow me to go to college. And so I won, and I got to go to Fairmont State College. And while I was there, I started dating a young man who loved me, or I thought who loved me. And he was what I built my whole life upon at that time. He was going to college, and I went two years, and then I took a job at the college so I could support him and put him the rest of the way through school. And I had all these dreams of what life was going to be like, that I was going to be married, I was going to have a home, I was going to have children, life was going to be wonderful, and I was going to just be so happy.

And so those were the dreams I had. But I didn't know the Lord. I didn't grow up in a Christian home. We went to church, but it was just a place to go.

I never heard the scriptures during all that time. But after we got married, I worked and he finished college, he finished college, and he got a job right away. And I had gotten pregnant. And about three months after he graduated from college, we had twin boys. And I was shocked because at that time, they didn't do sonograms. And I didn't know I was having twins until they were born. So it was a real shock. But they were just the sweetest little babies.

And I'm so thankful for them. But my husband just was so self-centered. He was so into his life, what he wanted, what would make him happy. And he became very involved in alcohol, just like my dad. And he became involved in some drugs and partying a lot.

And he started going out at night and partying with friends. And I didn't feel like he really was taking care of us or that he cared about us. But my dreams were still, oh, this is going to change.

We're just in this new season, and it's going to change, and everything's going to be great. Well, I found out that it wasn't going to be great. When my little boys were about six months old, he packed his bags, took everything out of his closet, and he left us. He had gotten involved with another woman. And I found out. He had been lying to me, and I found out.

And I confronted him with it, and he just left. And I didn't have any support. I lived in a little apartment with a broken-down car. And I had to quit my job because I had two babies instead of one, and I wasn't able to take care of them when I worked. And so I felt like I was left with nothing. It was nothing. And I didn't know the Lord.

I didn't have the help of Jesus in my life. So he left at first, and he moved down the street with this lady. So I had to drive past that place every time I went out because it was a one-way street. And it was just really difficult. I was devastated. My heart was broken. And I just, I felt like my life was over.

I don't have a life anymore. And I became really, really depressed, very discouraged. But I look back now, and I see God was at work.

And he was searching for me and calling me all that time. So I went back up to the college, and they had a job opening. And I took it, and I was able to find child care for my little boys because I had to work. I had no money.

I didn't have family that could help me in that way. And so I went back, and I ended up working with the director of admissions at this college. And he was a godly man. He loved the Lord. And I knew nothing about, I knew the little stories about Jesus from going to Sunday school, but I never read the Bible. I knew nothing about the Lord.

I didn't even know what being saved meant. And so I would go in his office. We would work together on sending out letters to the students. And so I would be in his office every day for a little while. And I went to work, and I wanted to be strong. And I didn't share anything to anyone about what was going on in my life because I guess I was too proud.

I didn't want people to know that my life was falling apart. So I would go in his office, and one day he asked me how I was doing. And I just started crying right in front of him.

I thought, this is terrible, just boo hooing right in front of your boss. And he was so, so loving. And every day after that, when I would go in, he would tell me about the love of God. And I heard it over and over. But I didn't know him. I didn't know the Lord.

And so I was thinking about this for weeks, actually. And he kept telling me that God would take care of me, that he would take care of my children. I'm so sorry, Ryan. I can't keep from crying.

No, you're great. So after hearing this for a while, I thought, well, I know if my friend, who had become my friend, says that God is real, and he's a educated man. I mean, there must be something to it. And so he invited me to church to go with him one night to this little church in the country. He was a lay preacher sometimes at a free Methodist church. And he would go around to some of these little churches when they needed a pastor, and he would preach. And he was preaching at this little church out in the country. And he asked me, he and his wife asked me if I would go with them. So I started thinking, because I didn't know where God was. I didn't know how to find him. And in my mind, I was thinking, well, if there really is a God, he must be at church.

He's got to be at church. And so I went with them, and I really was expecting something to happen. And my sister, my younger sister came, and she was helping me with the boys. And so we went to church, and I sat through this church service. It was just a typical free Methodist church service.

And my friend gave the message. They sang hymns. They prayed, and nothing happened. And I was distraught. I just remember walking out of that building thinking, this isn't real.

There really isn't a God. And as I was out getting in the car, putting the boys in the car seats, and a little old lady out in the parking lot, and I didn't know any of these people, she came up to me and just said, do you want to be saved? And I didn't know what saved meant, but I said yes. And it was, to me, it's a miracle.

She didn't know what was going on in my life, and God just led her to do that. And so I went back into the church, and everybody in the parking lot got out of their cars and went back in the church and went to the altar with me, and we prayed. And I came to know Jesus that night as my Savior. And when I went home, I didn't know scripture. And the only verse that I knew was Psalm 23, which I had memorized in Sunday school, and that's, the Lord is my shepherd. And so I just remember the next morning getting ready for work, and I was having such a battle in my mind, and I just kept saying Psalm 23 over and over. And I wasn't aware of spiritual battle at that time, and I think I was really having a spiritual battle for my soul. And I kept saying Psalm 23 over and over and over.

And then I started to get involved with, or I want to say I didn't start getting involved. People got involved in my life and helped me and supported me and helped me to grow during that time. And I'm just, to me, it's just a miracle of the Lord that He would choose me. And it's even more of a miracle that I'm up here on this stage, and my son is sitting right here. But that's what my early days were like.

And I was 25 when I came to Christ. Thank you for sharing. And this is fun to get to be on the stage together. Hopefully many more times ahead.

We'll see. I have to pass the test first. Oh, he already passed it. You know, one of the Psalms, as we're talking about the goodness of God, is taste and see that the Lord is good.

Psalm 34a, blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. And so now you're a single mom with twin babies, which are my brothers, by the way. So if you're wondering, oh, is Ryan a twin? No. We have adopted the boys after we got married. So we are a family.

Absolutely. And so how in those early days and early years did you begin to taste and see that the Lord is good? You know, we're going to sing a song after this that says you keep on getting better. And it's not that God's getting better. We've talked about this, but the more you get to know God and His goodness, the better He becomes to you because you're experiencing more fully who He is. How did you begin to taste and see His goodness through those next years?

I have to say it's a slow process, but also for some it's a fast process. And I began real slowly, but when I really grasped who God is, then that was all I needed. I really grew spiritually during that time, but I have to say it was people in my life that helped me. It was my friends who helped lead me to Christ, who encouraged me to go to church. They encouraged me to get into the Word, and they helped me. They brought things that I needed, brought food, took care of helping with my kids.

It was people. It was the body of Christ who really loved me, that got me off in a good way. And just having that reminder, even when I didn't want to go to church, having that reminder of someone calling and saying, we'll pick you up.

We'll help you, but we just want you to be there. And so I would say that was number one. And then I learned to get in the Word of God, which was, you know, God says that His Word is a refuge, that He is a refuge, and His Word gives us strength, and His Word gives us hope and gives us direction. And as I began to get in the Word of God, it was like a light went on. When you come to Christ and you're saved, you have the Holy Spirit.

We have Christ living in us. And it was like my eyes were opened. And when I read the Bible, it would just jump off the page, and God would speak to me. And it was such a precious time for me, especially in those years of being a single mom and just feeling alone and feeling desperate. God's Word was my delight. And I'm very thankful that I learned. Even the people that helped me just to get going in my Christian life helped me to get in the Word. And they spent time with me, and they taught me.

And I'm very grateful for that. And I learned how to pray, the same people. I went through a prayer class early on, very early in my Christian life, with a group of five ladies in the basement of a free Methodist church. And what's amazing to me, you kind of think in those little obscure places that God's surely not working there and that there's not godly people there.

But I'm telling you, there are. God has people everywhere. And these five ladies taught me to pray. And I learned to pray my first out loud prayer with them. And I learned to believe. As I watched them pray and I shared my very first prayer request, these ladies believed. They believed that when you pray, God is going to answer.

And he did. And so that was my first introduction to prayer, which has carried me through my whole life. Another thing that really helped me was God just kept showing up.

You know, as I was in the Word, as I would cry out to him, he just kept showing up all over the place. I just remember a time that I had a car that broke down all the time, and I was driving along, and I had the boys in the backseat, and my car broke down, and I never knew what to do. And there just happened to be a mechanic right behind me. And he got out of his car and helped fix my car and get me back on the road. And another time, I was so lonely on the weekends, just I had too much time to myself, and I liked being busy.

I could get through the weeks, but the weekends were really hard. And I was sitting on the floor in the living room one time. It was after the boys went to bed.

I do everything after the boys go to bed. But I was praying. I said, Lord, I am so lonely.

Will you please send someone to my door? And it was the most amazing thing. There was a knock at the door a few minutes later, and it wasn't my knight in shining armor. It was my friend Edith who was next door.

And she was just a lovely, older lady. And she came to the door, and we sat, and we became the best of friends. And I had the opportunity later on to lead her to Christ. And so God just showed up in just amazing ways. I was praying for a husband, and my friends were praying that God would give me a husband.

And I wanted my kids to have a dad. And so as I prayed, my friend suggested that we go to this Navigator meeting, which was a college ministry meeting that was hosted by this Navigator group. And Chip, my now husband, was leading that group. And so it was a Bible study.

It was singing and worship, and it was just for college kids. But I went just to meet him, because my friend was telling me about him. And so I went to meet him, and I did. I saw him, and I was really, really attracted to him. And I thought, oh, maybe he's the one. Maybe he's the one God has sent here for me, because I haven't met anyone else. And so the next thing- He's literally the only one.

He's the only one. And so the next week, I thought, well, I'm going to go back, because who knows what God is doing. And I really believed in the power of prayer. And so I took my little boys with me. So they were babies.

They were like two years old, and I took them in their little pajamas with feet on, that have the feet. And so we walk in this rally with all these college kids, and I just sat down and act like I'm a part of it, and had these two little boys, because I thought, if he's the one that God has for me, he needs to know I have kids. And so then he didn't pay much attention to me.

I think he might have said hi or something, but he didn't particularly notice me. And so I went home that night, and I was so distraught again. And I thought, I'm not going back there. And that was the first time in my life I surrendered something to God. And I remember sitting on my bed that night, and I just put out my hands, and I said, Lord, I'm not going back there. And if he's the one you've brought here for me, and see, I still was thinking that, then you bring him to me. I'm not going to do anything. If you want him to come to me, you bring him to me. And so a few weeks went by, and nothing happened.

And I just thought, well, nothing is going to happen. But then one night, Chip called me, and he had been thinking about me this whole time. And he went through the pages of the, they had a roster where people that would come would put their names and their telephone numbers, just so they could keep track of who was coming. And he flipped through the pages until he found my name. And he called me. And that was the beginning.

I was in shock. And that was the beginning of a relationship that grew into just what we've shared for the last 43 years. And then he became the father of my children.

And then we had two more children. And that was just one of the most amazing answers to prayer that I ever had. You're speaking about prayer. And I just can tell you that my mom is a prayer warrior. And one of my fond memories growing up as a kid is I would wake up in the early mornings, you know, to go use the bathroom. And she would always be up, and she'd be on the couch, and the lamp would be on, and she'd have a hot cup of coffee.

And she'd just spend hours in the morning with Jesus. And, you know, it's been said that God doesn't have favorites, but he has intimates. And you are an intimate. And I think that model, for me, it was always so powerful in a picture.

Sorry, I don't mean to make you cry. And I love the Psalm, Psalm 73, where it says, But as for me, the nearness of God is my good. And then when it's talking about the goodness of God, you see this repeated, is that when you really believe that God is good, you make him your refuge.

You make him, he is the true safe harbor. And so instead of trying to navigate on your own, you run to him. And I think that's the story that I've seen over and over, is that the nearness of God is your good. And you've made him your refuge just because you've learned that intimacy with Jesus. How did that foster?

How did that develop? I think it happened because I was desperate. And I needed God at a time when I felt like I had nothing to give, that he came to me. And I learned that I could pour out my heart to him. And he's carried me through all kinds of trials of life.

And we all have those. But he's with us all the time. And he cares. And I've learned that he listens. He cares about what we say. He cares about what we think. And he wants to hear us.

He wants us to talk with him. And he wants to speak to us through his word and through nature and through people. And he speaks to us in many ways to give us hope and encouragement. And so I think I was really blessed that it was through difficulty that I came to know the Lord because I realized that he was all that I needed. And one thing I've always thought about is when you realize that God is all you have, then you realize that he's all you need in whatever situation that you're going through.

So that's how it all started. And then the hunger for God's word, as we're in his word, that hunger develops and you develop a relationship with him. And it's a treasure, those treasured times to be able to spend in God's word and prayer. And when I was a single mom and I was hurting so badly and I was learning to pray when I would come home from work, the first thing I would do because I was hurting so much. And I had read in the Bible that, well, you don't have to do this, but I thought you did, that you go into your closet and pray.

I took it all literally. And so I would run into my little closet. There was hardly room for me to get in it.

It was so tiny. But I ran in there and I get on my knees and I just pour out my heart to God. And he met me. And I've spent my life, fortunately, with a wonderful husband, to be able to express to other people that God has the same for you. That when you cry out to him, he will meet you in your need. Doesn't mean everything will change, but he's with you and he gives you all that you need in that moment. So I think for me, God became so real that it was like he was my friend walking beside me. And I just, as we're talking about the goodness of God, that verse that most of us know is that all things work together for good to those who love him.

And I can verify that, that we may not see it all in this life, but whatever we go through, that God is working for good in our lives. Thank you so much, Mom, for sharing. Can we thank my mom for being with us? Really powerful. Would you mind just praying for us and maybe moms in particular and moms who are, this is a very painful Mother's Day? I have to be so emotional.

Yes. Heavenly Father, we come to you today. We approach your throne with confidence because of Christ, because of what Jesus has done for us. And Father, we are so grateful that you care about mothers. It always impressed me how you cared about your mother, Mary, when you didn't leave her alone after you went to the cross, and that you care about every mother. So Father, I pray today that you would give strength to each of these moms, some that are hurting, some that, there's some that just really want to have children.

They want to be mamas. Would you give them strength? Would you give them perspective? Would you, those that are in the midst of caring for little ones, would you give them great wisdom, help them to lead their children in a way that's pleasing to you?

Will you provide their needs? Father, will you just do a great work in the women in this room that they would just multiply little warriors for Christ all over the place? And Father, thank you for, thank you for these women, and will you bless them today?

An insightful end to this Edition of Living on the Edge. Our guests have been Ryan Ingram and his mom, Teresa. And if you'd like to learn more about Teresa's resources that were mentioned today, go to livingontheedge.org and search for Precious in His Sight. You'll find her book, the broadcast series she taught, and her affirmation cards, which is a helpful tool packed with daily biblical encouragement. Learn more about these resources when you go to livingonttheedge.org and search for Precious in His Sight. Well, for Chip and all of us here, I'm Dave Drury, reminding you to cherish and love the moms in your life this weekend. Join us next time for another edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-12 05:45:41 / 2023-05-12 05:57:13 / 12

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