by Becce Bettridge
What was it like for Sarah to be the wife of that famous (infamous) colonial pastor, Jonathan Edwards? What was it like to sit every Sunday, with your 11 children, in the “assigned pew” facing the congregation, seeing every frown, look of puzzlement, half smile, and those piercing eyes which took note of what you were wearing and how your children behaved? What was it like to host house guests at a moment’s notice because the pastor’s home was the place to stay when notable people came to town…not to mention the many young men under Jonathan’s tutelage spreading themselves out in a small house the way young men tend to do? Having been married to a pastor for many years, these questions and more have always fascinated me. How did other women face the challenges of this life and still thrive as Christians, partners in ministry, and human beings? And then, one day I came across an intriguing book entitled, Marriage to a Difficult Man: the uncommon union of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards, by Elisabeth Dobbs. THIS I HAVE TO READ!…so I did…and Sarah has been one of my heroes of faith ever since.
When you are married to the pastor, and that is the person you hear preach year-in and year-out, it is paramount that you have a robust spiritual life beyond the Sunday morning experience. Sarah Edwards had just that kind of active relationship with God which carried her through the best of times, as well as the difficult seasons. Sarah was very human and struggled, as we all do, with human weakness. At times, she was overcome with depression, fear of criticism, and loneliness. Yet, throughout her life, it was said that she was of a “good disposition” and “did all as a service of love…with cheerfulness, peace, and joy.” But there came a time in Sarah’s life when she experienced an intense spiritual crisis from which she later immerged with a greater assurance of God’s love and favor.
During the Sarah Edwards: Pursuing an Authentic Faith workshop we will meet Sarah through video in a one-woman play, written and acted by Maggie Rowe. Sarah pursued God, and God pursued Sarah. In many ways, Sarah’s story is not too different from our own…for God is pursuing each of us as well. During our session together, time will be given for each of us to ponder aspects of our own experience of God’s pursuit.
Sarah’s life verse was Romans 8:38-39, For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us (me) from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our (my) fears for today nor our (my) worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us (me) from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us (me) from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our (my) Lord.
This is as true for us, today, as it was true for Sarah in 1742.