Susanna Wesley: Passion of a mother’s heart

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession,that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)

There are stories of Susanna Wesley’s life that may be best left as the stuff of legends, but there are enough verifiable tales that prove her to be a well-educated, well-spoken mother who was devoted to her children and deeply influenced their spiritual lives.

Susanna Annesley was born the 25th, and last, child of Puritan minister, Dr. Samuel Annesley. She received an excellent education and, at the age of 13, decided her parents were wrong in their beliefs and aligned herself with the Church of England.

Susanna married Samuel Wesley in 1688.

There is much that could be told of the marriage. I could talk about their 19 children; ten of whom lived to adulthood and two of whom became the founders of Methodism. I could talk about the two fires or the sicknesses that her family endured. I could talk about her homeschooling efforts or strict discipline with her children. There’s the sad tale of the maid who suffocated one of the children, or the questionable story of a dispute over the rightful king of England that caused Susanna and Samuel to separate for about a year.

But there’s one story that shows a mother’s heart and a passion that all would know the Lord.

At one point when her husband was away, Susanna began holding a family service for her own children. Soon, one young boy who had joined them asked if his parents could come with him. Others were equally disappointed in the preacher standing in for Samuel, and asked to join them as well.

The numbers grew from 30 to 40, and continued to climb until, as she wrote in a February 1711 letter to Samuel, “Last Sunday I believe we had above two hundred. And yet many went away for want of room to stand.”

In that same letter, she explained that she simply could not turn them away, and admitted that a woman teaching such a large gathering did indeed seem peculiar, “and so does almost anything that is serious, or that may any way advance the glory of God or the salvation of souls.”

Susanna died in July 1742, considered by her son, John, to be a “preacher of righteousness.”

Unlike other women, Susanna didn’t seek out the role of preacher. It would seem the only teaching in which she was interested was the teaching of her children. Yet, when people came to her seeking the Lord, she could not help but to obey the path unfolding before here.

What she ended up doing in obedience to the Lord seemed peculiar to her in her day just as the Lord’s call to some of us will seem peculiar to us in our day. Like Susanna, we must be willing to do such things to proclaim the glory of the Lord or to bring the gospel message to those who have yet to know the Lord.

What is the strangest thing the Lord has ever asked you to do?

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This is the 18th post in my Write 31 Days series for 2017 in which I am taking a devotional look at key women in Christian history. For more information, or to start the series from the beginning, visit the introductory post.

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