Sheila Walsh, All That Really Matters

Well, good afternoon everybody. This is your friendly guide thanking you for making me part of your afternoon. And we’ve got a real treat for you right now. Our guest is a Christian who communicates through broadcasting, singing, writing songs, writing books, through speaking. And in her books, Honestly and Living Fearlessly, she revealed her own journey of faith in an unusually unguarded way. She’s been doing this same thing through the Women of Faith Conferences.

Q. Her latest book is titled, All That Really Matters, published by Waterbrook. And it’s good to talk to Sheila Walsh. Sheila, how are you doing?
A. Hi Dick, good to talk to you again.

Q. Man, I’ll tell you. Now, I was just mentioning to you that Brendan Manning was just here. And Brendan says about this book, in one of the chapters in particular, that “You are a woman incapable of mere theory and abstraction. You’ve walked the long, lonely road to Calvary, thereby you lay claim not only to credibility but to our hearts as well.”
A. That’s really¢â‚¬¦ I mean, that-that meant the world to me. I think when you respect someone ¢€œ I’ve always been a huge fan of Brendan’s writings ¢€œ I mean, his books are just¢â‚¬¦ I find them so, so challenging and so tender. And he just¢â‚¬¦ He tells the truth. And so when he was willing to take a look at my manuscript and then share his thoughts, that just meant the world to me.

Q. How did you first meet him?
A. Oh gosh, I met him years ago at Praise Gathering, you know, the event that Bill and Gloria Gaither put on?

Q. Yeah.
A. And I didn’t know who he was, but it was just something¢â‚¬¦ If you’ve met him you know this, Dick.

Q. Oh, yeah.
A. But there’s just something about his slightly crooked grin and his sparkling blue eyes ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ and his accent. And I thought, I don’t know who you are, but I know I’m going to like you.

Q. What is it that he¢â‚¬¦ He connects really well with a lot of musicians and artists. What is it that he has that connects?
A. He’s just not pretentious at all. He’s not preachy, but he¢â‚¬¦ I mean, it’s interesting. He was in Nashville fairly recently, and a bunch of my friends, a bunch of muso’s went, musicians who kind of¢â‚¬¦

Q. You call them “muso’s”?
A. Muso’s, yeah.

Q. There you go, folks, now we’ve got a whole new vocabulary. All those muso’s out in Nashville.
A. Yeah. They’re kind of jaded, you know, they’ve kind of seen everything and heard everything, and some that weren’t sure they wanted to go.

Q. Yeah.
A. But-but they went and they just kind of sat around. And Brendan has a way of making himself very vulnerable. And yet he has such insight and such ¢€œ insight into the human condition. He reminds me a lot of the writings of Frederick Buechner.

Q. Yes.
A. You know, I mean, in one of his books, Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale, he talks about that really our call is to-to give voice to the inner events that are happening in our life. And Brendan has a way of doing that, of putting words to what’s going on inside.

Q. Yeah, he does. And the other thing about Brendan, and I’ve-I’ve thought of this when I thought about your book, Honestly, is that there is a kind of an unguardedness about everything he writes. There is a willingness to talk, very openly, about his-his failings and mistakes, and his depressions and his alcoholism, and all this stuff in his life. And that’s disarming because we’re really not accustomed to that kind of honesty. Unfortunately, we’re not accustomed to that in the Evangelical community, and Brendan kind of rolls in and just starts talking, and next thing you know you’re finding yourself totally connecting to somebody that’s honest the way you wish you could be.
A. I know, and I really understand that. There’s something about facing the worst that’s true about you and, even at that moment, realizing how much you’re loved by God.

Q. Yeah.
A. It’s a very liberating thing.

Q. Yeah.
A. Because so many of us still are hiding behind masks of, you know, hoping that people are buying into our publicity.

Q. Yes.
A. But when you finally hit rock bottom, as I did in the psychiatric ward, and accept that at your worst moments, you’re ridiculously, extravagantly loved by God ¢€œ

Q. Yes.
A. ¢€œ you don’t believe anything like that. Right?

Q. Now, here’s what’s interesting, though. A lot of times people write a book like you did, or write some of the — or Brendan’s earlier books, and then they’re kind of perceived as people, but-but they went through that phase, but now they’ve gotten straightened out, kind of thing. And there’s something about being willing to stay in the moment of honesty that is-is very difficult. I mean, it’s one thing to come out and be honest one time in a book or in a record.
A. Yeah.

Q. It’s another thing to maintain it as an ongoing way of life. He’s done that. How’s it working for you?
A. Well, it’s really important for me, Dick. I mean, it was 12 years ago that I was in the psychiatric hospital, but this year at all the Women of Faith Conferences I talk on Friday night about the fact that, you know, many of you know I went through that experience and struggle with that. But what you might not know is I’m still on medication.

Q. Yeah.
A. It’s an ongoing battle for me.

Q. Yeah.
A. I’m not fixed.

Q. Yes.
A. And¢â‚¬¦ But I find that really delightful that God uses our brokenness to be a bridge to other people. Because a number of people who have written to me, after conferences and said, Look. I’ve tried to be okay. I came off my medication. I’ve been really in trouble. How do you talk? And I thought, You know what? It’s okay. God can¢â‚¬¦ The thing that surprises people is you could be involved in something, and God can still use you and you’re not perfect.

Q. Why does the church have such a difficult time handling honesty? I mean, the point is, Jesus can only love us the way we are. We can’t be loved the way we pretend we are. And-and unfortunately, in churches, people get loved for who they pretend they are instead of who they really are.
A. I know. And that’s never satisfying because you think, there’s still this little echo inside where you think, if you knew the real me ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ then I wouldn’t belong here.

Q. Yeah.
A. And that, to me, is such a shame. We should be able to be the most honest people.

Q. Yeah.
A. The most vulnerable, the most transparent.

Q. Yeah.
A. But because we think¢â‚¬¦ You know, it’s kind of a strange thing. We know that we come to the cross because we’ve blown it, because we’re sinners, because we’re hopeless.

Q. Yeah.
A. And then we spend the rest of our life trying to prove to God he probably didn’t need to do that anyway because we’ve got our act so together.

Q. You know, John Ortberg has a new book out, Everybody’s Normal Until You Get to Know Them. And in that book he tells the story of deciding, after a ten-year friendship with a guy, to be absolutely, brutally honest about who he, John Ortberg, is. All of his deepest secrets, things he had literally never told anybody. And he says he goes into the conversation with this tremendous sense of vulnerability and fear. And he gets to the end of everything he’s saying, and he looks at the guy and there’s this pause. And he’s afraid of what the guy’s going to say. And the guy says, John, I’ve never loved you more than I do right now.
A. Oh, wow.

Q. That’s what you want to hear¢â‚¬¦ That’s what you hear from God. That’s what we need to hear from each other, isn’t it?
A. Absolutely. And the sad thing is that’s not always going to be true. And I think you have to make peace with that, too. Because one of my ¢€œ someone who used to be a very dear friend of mine ¢€œ hasn’t spoken to me until and since the day I told them I was on medication, because he thinks that I’m a bad witness to people, that if I¢â‚¬¦

Q. No. No, no, no, please tell me this isn’t a true story, Sheila.
A. Oh, absolutely. And someone you actually know, someone respected, someone I still respect for many other areas of their life, but their thing is, you know, if you really trusted God you wouldn’t need this.

Q. Yeah.
A. And the thing that’s troubling about that to me is well, a) it’s ridiculous. I mean, it’s like saying to somebody with a broken leg, Well, just get up.

Q. Yeah.
A. And b) I ache for that person because I think, I wonder what there is in your own life that you cannot make peace with.

Q. Yes.
A. Because it’s as we accept our own brokenness we can accept other people. You know, we talk so much in our culture about self-esteem ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ there’s nothing in the Bible about self-esteem, but there’s a lot about self-acceptance.

Q. Yes.
A. And then we can accept one another.

Q. Well, we really¢â‚¬¦ All of this conversation is a nice way to get into the new book, All That Really Matters, because your very first chapter focuses on moving from a performance mindset, as a Christian, to understanding what really matters to God.
A. Yeah. I mean, it’s¢â‚¬¦ To me, 2,000 years ago a man asked Jesus a question that absolutely — if we got how Jesus answered, I mean, if we understood that ¢€œ it would transform the way we are living our life right now, whether you’re in Chicago or New York or here in Nashville. And that is, this guy said to Jesus, What’s the one thing? What’s the one thing, amongst all the things out there, that really matters? Because they had 613 rules ¢€œ

Q. Yes.
A. ¢€œ they had to keep every day. 248 things to do, 365 things not to do.

Q. Yeah.
A. And Jesus said, Look. There’s only one thing. Love God with everything you have and are, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Now, I’ll tell you what. We’re going to pick up there when we come back because most of us have heard those verses before, but just like a lady that approached Sheila in a store and asked her the question, Well, what’s the key to this? A lot of us know this verse and yet we don’t, we really don’t get it. It’s like the Sadducees and Pharisees. Though they studied scriptures carefully, they didn’t get it about what was the one key thing. We’re going to pick up there with Sheila Walsh when we come back right after this. Her new book is All That Really Matters, published by Waterbrook. Don’t go away.

(Break)

Well, this is Dick Staub back with you, with Sheila Walsh. Her newest book is All That Really Matters. And we were talking about how she suggests that we need to move from performance mindset, as Christians, to understanding what really matters. And Jesus was asked that staggering question, What is it that really matters? And he talked about loving the Lord your God, and loving your neighbor as yourself.

Q. Now-now, you were approached by somebody in the store, I think it was, who recognized you and they said, Yeah, I’ve heard that. I understand that. But what’s the key? Which is kind of funny that they still are¢â‚¬¦ We’re looking for something more than what it is that Jesus says is the heart of the matter.
A. Absolutely. And I think our contemporary Christian culture has endorsed that. You know, we want to think there’s something we could do or there’s just, if there’s one speaker that we could hear¢â‚¬¦

Q. Yeah.
A. Or one church that we could go to where it seems like God’s doing something special, then suddenly we would get, we would get it.

Q. Yeah.
A. You know, that our kids would love God, our husband would come back, our-our¢â‚¬¦ You know, all the little things in life that are not working would suddenly fall into place.

Q. Yeah.
A. And-and that’s such¢â‚¬¦ It’s settling for so much less than Jesus actually, the plan that he offered for us.

Q. Yeah.
A. You know, loving God with everything. He not only¢â‚¬¦ The thing I think is outrageous about God is that he looked down and saw that we have no idea what he’s like. You know, even in our best moments we don’t have a shadow of a glimpse of what he’s like. So the God of the universe, I mean, entered our stage in the womb of a teenage girl to show us. So everywhere Jesus went he was saying, Look at me. This is what God is like.

Q. Yeah.
A. This is what it looks like, to love God with everything, and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Q. You tell-you tell a story about one of the Women of-of Faith Conferences being double-booked with a dog show. And you wandered down and heard a conversation that really illustrated the performance mentality we have with these poor best-in-show dogs that-that in fact really, really connected, as far as I’m concerned, with the way most of us as Christians operate, in-in how we try to please God.
A. Well, it was so funny because I watched this woman working with a very small dog. And she was saying to the dog… And I mean, the arena is full of all sorts of dogs and handlers and trainers and they’re saying, Come on. Look at me, look at me. You want this, don’t you? You want this. This is your time, this is your moment. We’ve been training for this. And this dog looked absolutely paralyzed with fear. And I went up to her and I said, You know, Ma’am, that’s a lot of pressure for a little dog. And she said, This is his moment. He’s got 30 seconds in the ring and if he blows it there, he’s blown it.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I said, Well, gosh, we live our Christian lives as if we have to keep our tail up in the air. If we drop it, we’ve blown it. And I thought, how did we get so stuck in that kind of thinking? If I’ve have a great day today, if I fit in time with the Lord, if I listen to worship music in the car instead of, you know, the oldies station, if I did all the things that I think would make God happy, God loves me more today.

Q. Yeah.
A. If I had a terrible day, I swore at my husband, you know, I-I drank too much last night, or did all the things that we might think that we think God would love us less, and neither is true.

Q. Yeah. You-you have in your chapter, “We Yearn for More,” and you go into a discussion of some of the squalls in our life. And-and they were triggered by Roy Carter who, in the acknowledgements you say, “preached a sermon that ignited a flame in your heart.” And it is kind of the flame that is lit up in this-in this book? What’s the greatest sin?
A. Yeah. It was such a simple question. I mean, he asked ¢€œ we’re a fairly large congregation, maybe like 3- or 4,000 people ¢€œ and he said to them, I’m going to give you a couple of moments and I want you to determine what you consider to be the greatest sin. And I mean, depending on our background or our own prejudices, I’m sure many people thought, Well, it would be homosexuality or child abuse or witchcraft or, you know, yadda yadda yadda. And then he said, The greatest sin is not loving God.

Q. Hm.
A. And it was¢â‚¬¦ I mean, I can’t even explain what it was like. I sat in the church long after the service was over thinking that what he said there was so simple, but I need to get it because it’s huge.

Q. Not loving God.
A. Not loving¢â‚¬¦ And so I bought the tape and I listened to it over and over again. And I thought, you know, that is it. Because if you love God ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ it changes everything.

Q. Yes.
A. And you can’t love your¢â‚¬¦ You know, so often we think¢â‚¬¦ I got an email from a woman who said, Well you know, I’ve been thinking about what you said about loving your neighbor as yourself. And if my husband is my neighbor, the reason I’m not able to love him is I don’t love myself. So I’m going to work on me this year and then see if I can love him next year.

Q. Lucky guy.
A. Which is such a mistranslation.

Q. Yeah.
A. Jesus said, love your neighbor as you already love yourself.

Q. You tell, what I thought, was a very revelatory story about yourself and-and your husband and your family in a book, in a squall that you called “The Dream House.”
A. Oh gosh, yeah. I mean, we¢â‚¬¦ When my mother-in-law died of liver cancer, my father-in-law, William, moved from Charleston, South Carolina here to Nashville here to live with us. And he sold his house and we sold our house. And they wanted to find, Barry and his dad, wanted to find a real southern home. So they looked around and then they found this one place that they thought looked like Tara, you know. And it had the pillars and the whole kind of, you know, I’ll-never-be-hungry-again look.

Q. Yeah.
A. And so I wasn’t sure about it, but we went ahead and we bought the house. And it’s just, it’s like this big empty¢â‚¬¦ I mean, it’s a huge house. And there was something about it that I thought, We make our life so very complicated, you know, we get stuff and we accumulate stuff, and yet inside there’s this restlessness that we think this is not what I was longing for.

Q. Yeah.
A. I mean, there’s something about the American Dream where we think we need to find the right person, own our home and our own piece of land ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ and that will quiet any of the squalls going on. And it doesn’t do it.

Q. Yeah. As a matter of fact, in a certain sense, American culture should be ripe for spiritual renewal because so many Americans have achieved so much of what they had thought was going to bring them happiness. They’ve got their family, they’ve got their marriage, they’ve got the big house, they’ve got the-the two or three cars, they’ve got-they’ve got, you know, all the private lessons. They’ve got everything and they still wake up feeling empty. And I’m not talking about just people in the culture, I’m talking about people sitting in pews ¢€œ
A. Oh, absolutely.

Q. ¢€œ who-who¢â‚¬¦ As a matter of fact, in a certain sense, it’s even sadder to see it in the church where we should know better, but we have, in fact, tried to fulfill our spiritual longings with that kind of stuff.
A. I was reading an article in last month’s Christianity Today, where Tim Stafford said that, you know, when he looks around the church what he sees is unhappy ghosts. And I thought that was such an interesting illustration of the fact that it’s, to me, that picture conjures up people that are there but not quite there.

Q. Yeah.
A. You know, who are disillusioned by what’s outside the church as they are by what’s inside the church.

Q. Yeah.
A. And we keep going because we know we’re supposed to, it’s where we belong.

Q. Yeah.
A. But we don’t connect with others or with God, we just kind of wander around wondering what went wrong.

Q. So we-we-we recognize that the performance mindset is not what God has called us to, we-we find in the-the things that we try to substitute in our life for God that it always leaves us yearning for more. Where do we go from there, once we recognize that I’m on the wrong track? How do you get on the right track knowing that you already know what is the one thing that really matters?
A. Well for me, part of it is in my own life has been getting to know who God actually is ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ as opposed to who I think he is. You know, because I grew up with a very¢â‚¬¦ You know, my father died when I was young and it was a fairly traumatic experience for me. And I projected all those ideas and pictures onto God. And so one of the ways I began, just a couple of years ago, was I actually studied, you know, God, what have you told us about who you are? What have you revealed about who you are? Because in my own strength I can’t change anything about me.

Q. Yeah.
A. I totally get what Paul said when he said, There’s nothing good in me.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I used to think, Well, how modest. You wrote half the Bible. But I totally get it. There’s nothing good in me. And so my only hope is to ask God to pull back the curtain a little bit and let me see who he is because that will make me want to change. We think, we’ll give people a bunch of rules and that will pull their heart along.

Q. Yeah.
A. But Jesus said, No, give me your heart and the rest will follow.

We’ll pick up there when we come back. And you know, it strikes me that what Sheila is saying is particularly true of those of you raised with a certain understanding of who God is because of your church upbringing and maybe never really expanded beyond some of those childlike understandings of God that-that have not been sufficient in your life. We’re going to find out more about who God is right after this. Sheila Walsh is our guest. The book is All That Really Matters. Don’t go away.

(Break)

Well, this is Dick Staub back with you. In a sense, we’re talking about Following Jesus 101 this afternoon. And yet, you know the old saying, When all else fails, you know, read the instructions, get back to the basics. We say we’re followers of Jesus, Well, what did Jesus actually have to say?

Q. And I like it, you tell the story of some woman trying to introduce Patsy Claremont who didn’t actually know who she was. And that’s kind of the way a lot of us are in our relationship with God, you say.
A. Yeah. She thought that she wanted some handle to introduce Patsy, like some big degree, or some award she’d been given, or was she president of something. And my thought when Patsy shared the story was, if you’d actually ever heard Patsy speak, you wouldn’t have needed that. And it’s kind of the same with God. We have no clue. But I read ¢€œ I don’t know if you’re a fan of A.W. Tozier’s writings ¢€œ

Q. Oh sure, big time.
A. Well, in his book, The Knowledge of the Holy, there’s this one sentence that, it’s one of those places where you just have to keep going back with a packed lunch and sitting there for a while because he says, “What comes to our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

Q. Hm.
A. That’s pretty huge. “What comes to our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” But if you think about it, Dick, it is. I mean, if you think God is cruel or vengeful or preferential ¢€œ he likes her but he’s not so keen on me ¢€œ that will absolutely effect the whole way of our Christian life.

Q. So talk a little autobiographically here, because you go through a lot of aspects of God, controller of all things, righteousness in all things, Lord of all things, brings peace to all things, Prince of Peace. How did you begin reconstructing your understanding of God? And kind of, how did your understanding of who God was change as you began trying to get a clearer picture of God?
A. Well, it’s funny because when I¢â‚¬¦ I’ve been saying recently, the revelation that was given to John. And I’ve always avoided it because it’s so complicated and so difficult to grasp. But the one thing that I find is fascinating is like the whole way through the New Testament you hear talk of what it’s going to be like at the end of the age, you know. And Paul tells us, you know, at some point, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. But John got, for a minute, to see what it’s going to look like. He saw the last paragraph and absolutely, totally changed the way that he lived his life. Because he saw that every single person above the earth and below the earth was doing one thing, and that was that they were worshipping.

Q. Uh-huh.
A. Now, that would not always have been good news for me. Because to me, I’ve never quite got worship. You know, I used to think my idea, my picture of heaven was of bunches of people kind of jockeying to get a better position, to get a better look at Jesus on the throne.

Q. Yeah.
A. And singing, you know, Kumbaya, one more time. And so I can’t honestly say I ever used to look forward to heaven because I thought that just sounds incredibly boring to me.

Q. Yeah.
A. But what I discovered is that worship actually changes everything about who we are. It came through a very simple thing. I had to go for a routine heart scan. I get one every couple of years because my father had a massive heart attack in his 30’s. And my last scan came back good, but my doctor called me back and said, Look. We’ve picked up a spot on your liver ¢€œ

Q. Uh-oh.
A. ¢€œ and you need to be at the hospital tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM. And so I went through the usual, you know, the CAT-scans and all that kind of stuff and we had¢â‚¬¦ I had nursed my mother-in-law through liver cancer and I knew that it was-it was not a good prognosis. And I found myself in the middle of that thinking, Okay, what do I do here? Because I-I don’t know what to do. All my mind kept thinking when I was laying in that kind of surgical coffin, you know, where everything is whirring around you was, What about Christian? You know, he’s just a little boy.

Q. Yeah.
A. And what about my husband? And I couldn’t come up with anything that was helping me.

Q. Hm.
A. And so when I got home, and you go through this waiting process, which I just hate ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ I began to worship. Now, initially I think I did it because I thought if I’m really good at it God might keep me around for a bit longer. You know, like, look at her, this is great. I’m loving this.

Q. Yeah.
A. But worship changed me because it was like I began in just simple ways. I did what the Old Testament people used to do. I mean, I got the Psalms and I walked from my bedroom and I read them out loud. And when I came to ones that were praise psalms, I praised them out loud. And when I came to ones where David’s heart was breaking, I found myself on the floor weeping along with him.

Q. Uh-huh.
A. And I just¢â‚¬¦ I began to sing, and I began to say what I believed to be true in the matter what I could see in my own heart.

Q. Uh-huh.
A. And I realized the more you get to know God, it’s like, you know, perfect love casts out fear, in fact, the more God fills your heart with his love, it’s just there’s not that much room left for fear and dread. And it doesn’t mean that everything changes, but it means that you have this bigger picture of who God is. So no matter whether you get the good answer or the bad answer, I was very blessed. I got the good answer. It turns out I have a birthmark on my liver.

Q. There you go.
A. But-but it absolutely made a huge impact on me that continues to this day. Worship is now a huge part of my everyday life because I know it’s the only way that I can live in this world.

Q. You know, Brendan Manning said that your¢â‚¬¦ The chapter that most effected him in this book was the chapter on-on “The Prince of Peace: Keeping Our Eyes On Jesus.” You talk in that chapter about our culture as “physically full” and “spiritually empty.” And yet the temptations of Jesus were all about being spiritually full. And-and what have you been learning about keeping your eyes on Jesus? Once you begin to get this bigger sense of who God is and-and the importance of keeping your focus on the one who we say we understand we are following, what have you learned about keeping your eyes on Jesus?
A. Well, it’s probably about one of the most revolutionary things I’ve ever done. I mean, I’m 46 now and I gave my life to Christ when I was 11. And I don’t think I’ve had a day in my life, since 11, when I’ve not been on talking terms with God, you know, when we¢â‚¬¦ It’s not been a broken relationship. But as I began to actually go back, and I got as many translations of the New Testament as I could, and read through the gospels of what it actually looked like for Jesus to walk on this earth, it was just amazing to me. And I don’t know if you’ve ever read The Brothers Karamazov?

Q. Yeah.
A. By Dostoevsky. There’s a really interesting part in there where Satan takes Jesus back to that place in the world that is good. Basically what happened in the wilderness was just very basic. Satan said to Jesus three different things. “Look, there’s stones, you’re hungry, Why don’t you turn them into bread.

Q. Uh-huh.
A. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. He wasn’t saying turn it into heroin. Turn it into bread.

Q. Yeah.
A. But Jesus said, No, God’s going to provide for me. And the second one was, Why don’t you throw yourself off the pinnacle of the Temple? Now, that was a good thing because people who were expecting Messiah were told he will come on the pinnacle of a Temple ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ not in a stable somewhere. You know, he will appear in the pinnacle of the Temple. And Jesus refused to start up his ministry with signs and wonders with the big circus that’s in town.

Q. Yeah.
A. And then, I’ll give you everything you want in this world. I’ll give you all the people and it won’t cost you a thing.

Q. Uh-huh.
A. And Jesus said, No. And in saying no to every one of those, he was saying yes to the Garden of Gethsemane and yes to the cross. But in this book, The Brothers Karamazov, Satan takes Jesus back to that experience and he says, You know what? You really blew it there, but don’t worry because the church has fixed it. All the things you said no to, they now are obsessed with. Meeting their own needs, chasing the spectacular, looking for signs and wonders, and looking for a way to live where you get what you want and it doesn’t cost you anything.

Q. Hm. Yeah, man. I’ll tell you. You’re really-you’re really saying something that’s so important here because we’re-we’re a culture that wants to be spiritually full but we don’t want to serve.
A. Yeah.

Q. We want to be served. You know, we want to-we want to have our, you know, all of our needs addressed, but we don’t follow Jesus, who made it very much about how we lay down our life for other people. And there’s a counter-intuitiveness to what it is that Jesus calls us to. But it is what he calls us to. Man, I’ll tell you.

We’re going to be back with some concluding comments from our guest, Sheila Walsh, right after this. Her newest book is All That Really Matters. It is published by Waterbrook. What a wonderful, refreshing reminder of what is at the core of the gospel, what is at the core of being a follower of Jesus. We’ll be back with some concluding comments from Sheila Walsh right after this. Don’t go away.

(Break)

Well, welcome back everybody. This is Dick Staub, your host, talking with Sheila Walsh. I always enjoy talking to Sheila. I knew when I looked at the schedule this week and saw her name on the list that this would be one of those good days ¢€œ not that they’re not all good ¢€œ but she’s somebody who’s on a journey and is willing to tell us a bit about that journey. And I really appreciate that.

Q. You know, we-we-we recognize that we’ve got to move from a performance mindset, we understand that we yearn for more spiritually, we understand that that means really coming to know who God is and worshipping God. And by the way, you have an All That Really Matters worship CD coming out. Right? Is that out yet?
A. Yeah. It just came out, I think, last week.

Q. Oh man.
A. And the other thing I’ve done, which is really kind of a first for me, I’ve done an online Bible study.

Q. Wow.
A. So that people can go to my website, sheilawalsh.com, and download this Bible study, which is a very interactive thing of, you know, okay, here’s a book, you know, great, lots of great thoughts, but how does that work in my life? How does that work in my community? How does that work with my family?

Q. Yeah.
A. And with the women or the men I’m associated with. So that’s been really fun to do that, as well.

Q. Cool. Well folks, I had in my schedule here that that wasn’t coming out until this summer, but it’s out now. All That Really Matters is a worship CD, and that means that it’s available at your local stores or online, as well, which would be a really nice companion CD to use as you begin to get into the book All That Really Matters, and understanding the importance of worship in your life as we’ve been describing. Now we get to the place where we can start acting on-on our understanding of who God is more completely, and here’s where you start talking about what it means to love the Lord with your heart and with your soul and with all of of your strength and with your mind. And for goodness sakes, folks, one of the things I also like about Sheila is she’s as eclectic in her reading and thinking, as I am. So we go from Ruth to [Bolka] the dog in one of the chapters. And then she describes Barry as a character out of Greek mythology. There’s just a lot of interesting things going on here. Talk-talk about what it really means to love God with our heart and soul and mind and strength.
A. It’s¢â‚¬¦ For me, it’s bringing everything that’s true about us into everything that’s true about God. I mean, I’ve been such a tightrope walker most of my life. You know, I want to get it right, I don’t want to fail God, I want to be approved of, not realizing that’s already a totally done deal and there’s nothing I can do but not enjoy it or enjoy it.

Q. Yeah.
A. And so at this point, from this point on in my life, particularly with having a six-year-old son, I want to know what¢â‚¬¦ That’s actually what started this book was my thought of God, what matters for me to pass on to Christian, not my own prejudices or what Scottish Baptists do or, you know, what I want him to do and then pretend it’s in the Bible but I just can’t find the verse ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ what actually matters to you. What can I pass on to this child that he can build his life on? And so I say to him every morning when he’s going off to kindergarten, You know, darling, here’s the deal today. All you’ve got to do is love God with everything you’ve got and allow God to love other people through you. You don’t have to be first in class, you don’t have to win the race, you don’t have to do any of that stuff. If you do, it’ll be fine and we’ll celebrate. But all you actually have to do to make today a good day is love God with everything. Invite God into all the parts of your life. When you get stuck in some dumb math test, invite God into that process. And it does not mean that God will come along with fairy dust and suddenly you know all the answers.

Q. Yeah.
A. It just means you’re never alone in anything you’re walking through. You have a constant companion in all the moments of your life.

Q. You know, you ask a really provocative question in the chapter on loving God with your mind. You say, Why, in the midst of so much information, are we spiritually starved? I mean, people have got conferences, we’ve got bookstores, we’ve got Christian cruises, we’ve got Christian broadcasting, we’ve got music, we’ve got¢â‚¬¦ We have more things to prop us up spiritually than any group of Christians since the first century, and yet we seem spiritually starved. What’s going on?
A. Well, I think that we want other people to access God for us and then give it to us in a 30-second sound byte. You know, it would be much easier to read Max Lucado’s latest book than actually spend time with God ourself. And yet we’re really robbing ourself of what God wants us to have. God wants our intimate friendship. And I love reading other people’s books. I love going way back into past generations too and reading. But there’s no substitute for me having that real, ongoing, not this weird thing that we think, Oh, it’s going to be awful but it’ll make God happy. I’m supposed to be this, talk to him all the time and, you know, sing weird songs all the time and jump up and down. Not that. But having this intimate, awesome companion and getting rid of some of the stuff. Simplifying your life.

Q. Yeah.
A. That’s why we’re selling our house because it’s like, let’s simplify and reduce ourselves down again to what we’re sure about. We’re sure that we love each other, we’re sure we love God, let’s just get small again and start there.

Q. Yeah.
A. And build things into our life that matter, not things that just add more baggage.

Q. You had a young woman ask you whether you’re happy now, after she read Honestly. And you quote Walt [Rheingren.] And I was thinking of this where you were talking about we want somebody else to do it for us and then hand it to us. And the reality is, the spiritual life is the stuff we have to personally go through, it’s the stuff of our life. And Walt [Rheingren] says, “The difference between shallow happiness and a deep, sustaining joy is sorrow. Happiness lives where sorrow is not. When sorrow arrives happiness dies. It can’t stand pain. Joy, on the other hand, rises from sorrow and therefore can withstand all grief.”
A. Yeah.

Q. Wow.
A. I mean, I know that’s thinking about a book on the passion of Christ and that’s an excerpt from it, and it’s just absolutely so, I mean, wonderfully illuminating really as to what it really looks like. And I’ve heard people say that I can’t go through this, I don’t think I would survive.

Q. Yes.
A. And you know, part of that is true. The old you probably wouldn’t survive.

Q. Yeah, it’s got to go.
A. And that’s a good thing, that there’ll be a new you born in it that will be a different you.

Q. Yeah.
A. I love the way that Eugene Peterson translates, you know, we know the verse that perfect love casts out fear. But this is how he says it in The Message: “God is love, for we take up permanent residence in the life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way love has the run of the house. There’s no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. And that’s my heart, to take up permanent residence in the life of love.”

Q. Wow. You end your book with a chapter on transformation. And when you think about your own life and the way God is transforming your life, what-what stands out the most to you?
A. Well, I guess it’s God’s persistence in coming back with the same truth over and over and over and over again when I don’t get it. And whispering to me kindly over and over and over again his passionate pursuit of you, Dick, and me, and of anybody who’s listening into this, because God can’t/won’t force himself on us.

Q. Yeah.
A. But I just don’t want to get, you know, I don’t want my life to be over here and to get home and suddenly think, Oh man, what an idiot.

Q. Yeah.
A. I mean, I could have lived like this down there and lived ¢€œ not a happy life, because that’s what the girl wanted to know, well, are you fixed now? Are you happy? ¢€œ but-but a deeper life than that, where there’s moments of true joy ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ and true sorrow and you don’t run from any of them.

Q. Yeah.
A. You embrace them both because God’s in both of them.

Q. What are you learning about the needs of American women by speaking at the Women of Faith Conferences?
A. How incredibly lonely women are. I mean, very busy, very over-committed, that’s why I think Women of Faith is very different than Promise Keepers. Women don’t need to be asked to commit to one more thing. I mean, they’re over-committed. But so often they feel disconnected and as if they’re not meeting anyone’s standards, not their own, not their husband’s or kids, the church, and certainly not God’s. And what we try to tell them¢â‚¬¦ We get criticized at Women of Faith for not making more bold statements as to, Here’s ten things you should do. And we refuse to do that. Our thing is, No. Come to the throne of grace and let God love you. And if he’s got something to say to you about some issue in your life, or me about some issue, he’s well able to do that.

Q. Wow. I think that’s kind of Biblical. I wouldn’t want to go there.
A. I mean, it says love your neighbor as you love yourself, not fix your neighbor.

Q. Yeah, exactly.
A. You know, we think that’s our job. I’ll fix my husband, I’ll fix myself.

Folks, you can spend more time with Sheila Walsh by picking up your own copy of the book, All That Really Matters. It’s published by Waterbrook. There’s also a CD out of worship songs called All That Really Matters worship CD. We’ll be back right after this. Don’t go away.

Posted in DS Interview, Staublog in April 28, 2003 by | No Comments »

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

− 3 = 2

More from Staublog