Friday, October 15, 2010

Your best conversationalists.

During the Great Awakening, Edwards took the time to write a lengthy letter--full of intense counsel yet gentle personal concern--to a young Christian woman from a Suffield congregation he had visited.
Always consider your best conversations... to be the ones that produce the following two effects: first, those conversations and experiences that make you least, lowest, and most like a child; and, second, those that do most engage and fix your heart in a full and firm disposition to deny yourself for God and to spend and be spent for him.
It's remarkable how he receives and responds to a young convert's request for pastoral guidance with not less urgency than the other Great Awakening duties he must have been swamped with at the time... like drafting "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" which he would deliver a month later, or corresponding with ministry colleagues, or shepherding someone from his own Northampton congregation. What humble obedience it takes to walk joyfully alongside our people!

Although this story I tell, sifting through the dates and writings like souvenirs that aren't mine and lending significance here and there, may be more the story I've chosen to imagine than the one they actually tell... I can praise the same patient precious discipling in someone else who might have in reading Edwards unwittingly molded his past to her own ends on a sentimental search for the man in shining orthodox armor--I mean, she was reading his biography in the rain under a tree when our paths crossed.

O hai der.
I didn't know then just how dear a gift it was that she would draw up her chair or pick up an oar or a pen to attend to my grief and fear, to refix my sights so "earnestly, affectionately, and thoroughly." She is precious to me. Happy birthday, soul-friend.

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