Modern culture has stripped its children of the need to look up to someone else. Autonomy and individualism runs rampant with the mantra, “Look to yourself! Be who YOU want to be!”
The Bible teaches that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. How foolish is it to say, “Child, look to yourself, a fool, to become wise and of noble character.” Character is like a vineyard. It needs to be cultivated and cared for with precision to produce the best fruit. In order to have a well shaped character, it is important, if not vital to have a living example. In the same vein, it is helpful and encouraging to look back in time to those who have gone before and glean intangible treasures. The woman of whom I would like to commend to my readers: Sarah Pierrepont Edwards (1710-1758), wife of the infamous theologian Jonathan Edwards.
I had the immense pleasure of reading a book written by Elisabeth Dodds entitled, “Marriage to a Difficult Man.” As I read about Sarah Edwards, admiration was welling up for this dear woman. I began noting ways that I wanted to be like her, for there were many indeed! As character constantly develops and gets sharpened over the years, it is always a humbling experience to see someone’s life in view. Because of Sarah Edwards’ example, I want to:
- Make Simple Things Beautiful
- Be my Husband’s Number One Fan
- Be a Dependable and Hospitable Hostess
- Make my Husband Look Good
- Stand on the Rock, Christ, and Lean on My Husband
Making Simple Things Beautiful
Creativity is not my strong suite. I admire those who can make something out of scraps and turn that which is ugly to a work of art. Sarah Edwards had the knack to take the mundane and bring life to it. She took that which was bland and added artistic flavor. For example, Sarah impressed a design on her home churched butter. Where other women would roll out of bed in the morning, Sarah ensured that she was presentable looking, tying a pretty ribbon in her hair. She would also put garnishes on plates to brighten the dreary New England day. Sarah was thoughtful, creative, and went out of her way to make the ordinary special.
The Number One Fan
‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’ is one of the most famous sermons in the United States. Could you imagine not only being in the presence of this pastor but being married to him? You, knowing everything about him-his flaws, his fears, his dreams and aspirations. As great of a man as Jonathan Edwards was, he was a man. And he needed a tremendous wife in order for him to be able to do what he did. There were times where Jonathan Edwards needed an audience to practice his sermons and speeches and his wife was his solo audience. She would sit there by the fire, knitting, while listening and critiquing.
And then there were those romantic times where Jonathan and Sarah would go horse back riding together and he would bounce ideas off her and she conversed with him because she was his number one fan. She desired his success and loved him so deeply. He was her rock, her encouragement, and her guide. Like her, I want to my husband’s number one fan; cheering him on to take dominion in his garden of life.
In colonial times, doors did not have locks but only latches on the front door. There would be a string that would hang on the outside of the door giving the signal to visitors when it was suitable (or not) to come inside. Another snippet of the past is there were no inns for travelers in every city. People traveling through would be at the mercy of the citizens of the town. Usually what ended up happening was the travelers being directed toward the minister’s house. Sarah Edwards had the amazing ability to be a fantastic hostess and was well known throughout their area. Clergy from other towns would time their travels to traverse past the Edward’s home around dinner time. Sarah was extremely hospitable and kind to her guests. I would love to be that kind of woman where people would feel comfortable in my home and enjoy their time visiting. The Lord has blessed my family so abundantly and I want to bless others just like Sarah Edwards had the gift to do.
Making Husband Look Good
Reading about the famous Jonathan Edwards could leave one scratching their head. He was so impactful with his pen, but in person, it was hard to figure him out. The man of the house was not social. A large complaint from his church was that he did not go around making social calls to the congregants. Edwards spent the majority of his days and nights studying. But his wife made up for awkward social failures. Because of her work ethic, her well behaved children, and hospitality, she made her husband look good. When I meet someone and converse with them, I want them to think well of my husband because of my behavior.
I confess that I, out of my wicked heart, tend to be relieved when I see a woman who has it all together fail. I do not compare to some of these women, but deep down I want to be like them. But when reading about Sarah Edwards’ trials, I was not relieved but extremely sad for her. She was all too human like us all and had her difficulties. A few nervous breakdowns and emotional upheavals cast her down a few times. But, by God’s grace and mercy, I was thrilled to see her rise again out of the ashes of despair, wipe her dusty clothes off, and get back to life. She stood firm on her Savior and she leaned on the strength of her husband. She loved her husband dearly and trusted him. Jonathan was her rock, her guide, and her comfort. I want to trust my husband and lean on his strength like Sarah did.
It has been my pleasure and enjoyment to read this book on Sarah Edwards. Not only was I able to dip into history, I was able to glean wisdom and encouragement from this saint of old. I now have another example to look to and to follow in my journey through life as a woman, a wife, and a mother. I tremble at the thought of asking the Lord to cultivate my character like He did with Sarah Edwards. The fruit of her life which came from the well pruned branches by the Master Vinedresser certainly made an impeccable vintage. I am thankful for this example who has gone before.
For Further Discussion:
Noel Piper on Desiring God: Sarah Edwards: Jonathan’s Home and Haven