October 16, 2017

Sarah Edwards (Heroes of the Faith)

Mentors don’t have to live in our community, or even in our time period. They could be people from history, men and women we can only read about. They might be from other countries or even continents, speak different languages, and have completely different lifestyles than we could ever imagine having ourselves.

That’s why I enjoy reading biographies — I like learning from people who have gone before me.

We can find at least a few points of commonality with almost anyone . But those we read about, and think “this could be me!” — those are the ones who become my mentors, my role models of what it means to be Christian in this sinful world.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss is one such mentor. I know that whenever I dig into one of her books, it’s guaranteed to be packed with sound biblical doctrine that will help me mature in Christlikeness.

Joni Eareckson Tada is another of my role models. Through the horrific accident she suffered that left her paralyzed for life, she has allowed God to reach hundreds of souls for Himself through her testimony and ministry of encouragement.

Sarah Edwards is a more recent addition to my list. Of course, we know Jonathan Edwards, famous for his involvement in the First Great Awakening. But what about his wife? Why do we never hear about her?

A single chapter in Noel Piper’s Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God (affiliate link) introduced me to Sarah Edwards. As I read about her personality, her challenges, her delights, her life experiences — I immediately, and intensely, identified with her. She sounded like me (even my husband said so!), or at least the me that I wish I could be. The ideal me.

Faithful Women & Their Extraordinary GodI could understand the things that made her tick. I could feel her struggles with physical weariness. I could relate to her love of communing with God in nature. I could sense the camaraderie of being a ministry wife to a very busy husband.

But one detail of her life outshone all of that…

Sarah Edwards was “only” a wife and mother.

Sarah Edwards was never famous for writing books (though she did write one) or pioneering on a mission field, or anything else that would make the world sit up and take notice. We probably wouldn’t even know her name, if she hadn’t been married to such a famous preacher. She doesn’t even have her own Wikipedia page!

Did she have dreams of doing more? Perhaps.

But she was faithful where God placed her. 

She was faithful to do the mundane tasks of managing the home, to be the “unseen” half to her husband’s fame, to work daily at those things which take a lifetime to complete. And because she was faithful —

  • her husband was free to preach (and thus hundreds of souls have been saved),
  • travelers were welcome to stop and visit (many of whom were encouraged by Sarah to go on in Christian service),
  • and her children grew up to be mature Christians and well-respected members of their communities.

Some days I yearn to be more than just a wife — and hopefully a mother. I don’t want the publicity that travels with fame, but I want people to know me as a great Christian, or a highly influential author. I want to make a difference in people’s lives. I want them to write a biography about me when I’m dead and gone. I want my own Wikipedia page!

But I don’t have any great opportunities staring me in the face right now. My book isn’t a best seller. My blog doesn’t have thousands of readers. My ministry is small. I haven’t been called to travel to some third-world country as a missionary, or become a highly visible public speaker, or create some product that will make millions.

I live a small life, one that isn’t likely to garner much attention from the world.

But I can be faithful where God has placed me — as a wife, a sister, a friend.

I can faithfully love and serve the people God has placed near me — my family, my church, my coworkers. I can faithfully pray and read God’s Word and progress in sanctification.

And you know what?

If that’s all that God wants me to do with my life, then my life will make a difference!

It will make a difference to my husband, as I practice humility, faithfulness, submission, respect, and loving kindness. It will make a difference as I pray for him, support him, and cheer him on. It will make a difference to my family and friends, as I pray for them and encourage them and walk with them in Christlikeness. It will make a difference (hopefully) to future generations as I obey God’s will, and serve Him faithfully, and love Him completely.

I don’t need to be a great writer, or a great speaker, or a great anything.
I just need to be great at knowing God. tweet this

That’s the truth I saw validated in the life of Sarah Edwards. And that’s why she’s a great role model for us “average women” today. Because she chose to know God and love Him above all else, even in the mundane ordinariness of life.

 

For more about Sarah Edwards, check out Elizabeth Dodds’ classic biography — Marriage to a Difficult Man: The Uncommon Union of Jonathan & Sarah Edwards (affiliate link).

 

Comments

  1. I relate 100% to this post, and my normal, un-extraordinary life has been on my mind and in my prayers. Just this morning, I was thinking about a book I recently read called Radically Normal, about how we are called to the same standards of faithfulness whether we are a 3rd world missionary or a wife in a U.S. suburb. No matter what we do, we have the Gospel to live and proclaim, and we will be influential-either to ten people or to thousands-if we faithfully live our Christian lives in love and service.

  2. Hey Elizabeth! It’s been a long time! Anyway, just reading through your blog today and this post really encouraged me. I haven’t read this book, and I confess I know very little about Sarah Edwards, but you make some very good points. It’s our faithfulness in the roles God’s called us to which make up a life well-lived. And knowing God, through it all, is really our chief aim. Thanks for sharing, friend. Great writing!