You are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of victory.
The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”
Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord. So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!
We have been working through a sermon series on Family in recent days at Wanamaker Woods. We have been learning about how God can work through our families, warts and all. His transforming power can reach down and make changes in the midst of the dysfunction of our family lives, leading us towards greater spiritual health.
Susanna Wesley, mother of John and Charles, the founders of Methodism, certainly was a great example of how to be a change agent in her family even in the midst of a dysfunctional atmosphere. She endured a difficult marriage to a husband who was imprisoned twice for financial mismanagement. Their home was burned down twice. And tragically nine of their nineteen children died in infancy. Somehow Susanna raised their remaining ten children almost single-handedly, regarding motherhood as a vocation from God.
Susanna took education seriously, home-schooling her children for six hours a day, teaching her seven daughters the same as her three sons. She also gave an extra hour of exclusive time to each child each week. “I look upon every soul under my charge,” she explained, “as a talent committed to me under a trust.”
One of the questions I would ask is how she was able to deal with so many of the stresses going on around her. She had to find creative ways to gather resources from her heavenly Father. With nowhere at home to pray privately, Susanna’s children quickly learned that when her apron was over her head, their mother was not to be disturbed. In this unusual posture, she would pour her heart out to God, and pray for each of her children by name.
Susanna Wesley was a world-class leader, educator and prayer warrior, but her main mission field was her own family. She applied herself to this task tirelessly, praying faithfully for those ten children, and teaching them diligently. She was a housewife with a hard life from a small town in rural England, but she became the mother of some eighty million Methodists in more than 130 nations today.
As we think of how we can minister to those under our charge today, I would like to close with a prayer written by Susanna Wesley.
Help me, Lord, to remember that religion is not to be confined to the church, or closet, nor exercised only in prayer and meditation, but that everywhere I am in Your presence. So may my every word and action have a moral content. May all the happenings of my life prove useful and beneficial to me. May all things instruct me and afford me an opportunity of exercising some virtue and daily learning and growing toward Your likeness.
Notes from the Staff @The Woods