Thursday, February 26, 2009

Marriage to a Difficult Man

What a good book. Truly. When I started it, I knew little to nothing about the Edwards', only that he was a Puritan preacher and they had a lot of children. What a blessing this couple was, not only to those they directly ministered to, but to us, who enjoy the fruit of their ministry hundreds of years later!
Two most common questions I'm asked is, "Why are you reading this book?" (with a pointed look at Toby) and "What made him so difficult?". As to the first, you quickly realize it's not a self-help book (regardless of what the Barnes & Noble clerks think), but a love story - between a husband, a wife and their God. It's also the story of the massive impact they made on generations of believers - they children they trained in godliness, the countless guests they ministered to, and the unpacking of God's truth for those who believe.
As for what made him difficult, it seems that Jonathan Edwards was not blessed with certain social graces that one would expect in a man of his position. He was not harsh or demeaning; he adored his wife and children; he had a great love for the people of his flock. What he did not have was the desire to impress or the interest in meeting social expectations for their own sake. He didn't sit and make small talk with parishioners, he studied. He travelled to preach when it was considered extravagant to do so. He told his church what they needed to hear, not what they wanted to hear. But when a travelling minister needed counsel, they got it. When a church memeber lost a loved one, he wept with them. When his family needed him, he tended to them with joy.
In all of this, I think what made him "difficult" was really Sarah's ability to tend the social graces her husband was so lacking in. She was well aware of and cared what others thought, so when her husband made choices or delivered sermons that were not popular, she often felt the community's displeasure in a way that Jonathan did not. Yet God was faithful (as always) in refreshing and preparing them both for the difficulties that would ultimately remove them from their church in Northampton.
I shall not share any more, for it would likely spoil the reading for you. You'll have to get into it yourself! My mom got me my copy from Vision Forum (thanks Mom!). Check it out and let me know what you think!

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