Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Day I Met the Woman from the Past

You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view,
 until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1960

I was out driving by myself to go pick up some old bread for the pigs.
It's a rare occasion,
to be out by myself.

I had the radio on and heard this statement:

"Susanna Wesley borne nineteen children, including John and Charles Wesley. One day John asked her to define sin. The following is her definition of sin:

whatever weakens your reasoning,
impairs the tenderness of your conscience, 
obscures your sense of God, 
or takes away your relish for spiritual things;
in short, if anything increases the authority and power of the flesh over the Spirit,
then that to you becomes sin,
however good it is in itself.'

This really hit my heart.

I tend to box sin up and put labels on it.
I can vilify it that way.

It's easier for me to deal with my attitudes and own sense of
personal goodness
when I chalk it up next to my bad.

But this definition,
it knocked all my boxes off the shelf.

When I got home,
I googled this woman,
Susannah Wesley.

I wanted to know who she was.

She was just a mother,
the wife of a preacher,
a man who was dissatisfied with the church of England.
She had been born to a man who was much the same.
Opposition and seeing things for what they were,
accepting the trouble that might come from a different viewpoint
was what she was used to.

And she suffered for it.

Because of the choices her husband made in his preaching,
they suffered the burning of their house and the loss of most of what they owned.
This was partly responsible for putting them into debt
which caused her husband to have to leave for extended times
to find work to help pay off those debts,
and even forcing him to spend some time in prison for them.

Her milk cow's utter was sliced by someone who hated them,
causing them to have no milk,
and she had a lot of mouths to feed.

She had 19 children,
only 10 of whom survived until adulthood.

The rest died under the age of two.

My daughter is two,
so the impact of that I could feel keenly.

I can't imagine losing nine children in infancy,
2 sets of twins in the mix.

She was poor, faced opposition, had a busy schedule,
but the education of her children was important to her.

She educated all of her children intensely,
six hours a day,...

only starting when they turned five
because she felt that they needed to be children before that time.

Susannah made it a point to spend an hour each week
alone with each child,
for the point of getting to know them
and meet their individual needs.

She cared about their souls.

When her husband was away dealing with the debts,
a temporary preacher filled the pulpit,
spending the preaching time
week after week
preaching on the ills of debt.

How it must have burned her heart to hear his words,
her husband bound by debt,
some of it being his own doing
but also because of the persecution he had faced for speaking out
for right.

After a few weeks,
she could tolerate no more.
After the morning service, she gathered the children at home,
reading to them from the sermons her father had written
or her own husband had in his files.
She wanted their instruction from God to be full,
and took the time to fill in where she saw there was void.
Neighbors and friends asked if they could join in on the readings.

Was she perfect about everything?
Certainly not.
Nobody can be that.

But she was...

A woman of faith.
A woman of unmovable determination
to do right for her children.

A woman who was loyal to her husband
and his character
even when he could be somewhat stubborn at times
and his choices in life brought her difficulties.

The following situation
is an example of  her careful evaluation
and her desire to get her children to understand
a sensitivity to the heart of God.

"Susannah Wesley was one of the the great mothers of history. One day one of her daughters wished to do something which was not altogether bad, but which was not right. When she was told not to do it, she was not convinced.

It was late and she and her mother were sitting beside a dead fire. Her mother said to her:
'Pick up that bit of coal.'

'I don't want to,' said the girl.

 'Go on,' said her mother. 'The fire is out, it won't burn you.'

 'I know that,' said the girl. 'I know it won't burn me but it will blacken my hands.'

 'Exactly,' said Susannah Wesley.
'That thing which you wish to do won't burn, but it will blacken. Leave it alone.'

Source: Family of

It inspires me to hear of women like Susannah.

A woman, with a mother's heart and protective ways,
who can pray for wisdom and refine it into steadfast courage
for the benefit of her children
is admirable.

I find myself in this time of life yearning,
asking God daily,
 for that same wisdom and courage to do right for my children.
Reading about women who did so in years past
is such an encouragement.

Susannah's sons went on to be preachers,
and one of them, Charles, wrote over two thousand hymns.

Here are the words to one of my favorites that he wrote:

O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing
by Charles Wesley,

"O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of his grace!
My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.
Jesus! The name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
‘Tis life, and health, and peace.
He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.
He speaks, and, listening to his voice,
New life the dead receive,
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe.
Hear Him, ye deaf, His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy.
Look unto Him, ye nations, own
Your God, ye fallen race;
Look, and be saved through faith alone,
Be justified by grace.
See all your sins on Jesus laid:
The Lamb of God was slain,
His soul was once an offering made
For every soul of man." 


  1. Thank you for this post! I did not know all of this about Susannah Wesley. She is an inspiration to all of us in our journey as wives, mothers and daughters of God. Hope you are having a blessed Sunday!

  2. What an inspirational woman she was. Thank you for educating us about her. When used to teach us her sacrifices were not in vain and she did have sacrifice in her life and she still carried on. Thank you for your column it is beautifully done. I do so enjoy reading it.

  3. What a wonderful mentor she must have been to her children and a fine example to women.
    It is hard to find women today that will be those things...teaching younger women. It is even harder to find younger women willing to take part in biblical womanhood.
    This post was very good, I enjoyed reading it.Thanks for posting it!


  4. What a challenge for all of us who are saved to persevere for God's truth in our own daily walk & lifestyle (or to use the Bible word "conversation"). Your own mother is a great example of a woman who walks with God, teaches other ladies to be godly, and who lovingly supports her husband.

  5. Terrific post. Both interesting and inspirational.


  6. Fantastic post- really enjoyed this-thank you! i would be greatly honoured if you were to choose to include Seasonal Celebration in your linky list. What a great blog you write! Do pop over and take a look, it would be great to see you there!

    Rebecca x

  7. Another wonderful post Tonya. Wow - I never knew of this amazing woman. How can that be? From what you told us of her, I find her fascinating - and incredibly inspirational. I do believe I have some researching and exploring to do. Thank you so much for a beautiful share. Smiles & Hugs ~ Robin

  8. Wonderful post. Thanks for introducing me to this awesome example.

  9. Love to discover inspiring mothers, thanks!


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