Peace For Guilty Mrs. Edwards
"On the glorious splendour of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate." Psalm 145:5
Jonathon Edwards once observed a remarkable spiritual transformation in the life of his wife. She had become so affected with the things of God that he asked her to write down what had happened. She tells of a particular occasion when she had become disappointed and convicted over particular sins in her life and had lost a sense of the peace of the presence of God. However, after seeking God's face, she came to a happy awareness that God was indeed her Father on account of the forgiveness offered to her through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is a bit of her joyous testimony:
"I cannot find language to express, how certain this appeared—the everlasting mountains and hills were but shadows to it. My safety, and happiness, and eternal enjoyment of God’s immutable love, seemed as durable and unchangeable as God himself. Melted and overcome by the sweetness of this assurance, I fell into a great flow of tears, and could not forbear weeping aloud. It appeared certain to me that God was my Father, and Christ my Lord and Saviour, that he was mine and I his. Under a delightful sense of the immediate presence and love of God, these words seemed to come over and over in my mind, ‘My God, my all; my God, my all.’ The presence of God was so near, and so real, that I seemed scarcely conscious of any thing else. God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, seemed as distinct persons, both manifesting their inconceivable loveliness, and mildness, and gentleness, and their great and immutable love to me. I seemed to be taken under the care and charge of my God and Saviour, in an inexpressibly endearing manner; and Christ appeared to me as a mighty Saviour, under the character of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, taking my heart, with all its corruptions, under his care, and putting it at his feet."
It is my contention that while we all have different stories and some of our testimonies may not sound as dramatic as others, it is necessary to our vitality and progress in the Christian life that we have an encounter with the reality of God, the majesty of His character, and the wonder of His works. This encounter or awakening does not necessarily have to be at one particular moment in time. It may be gradual and progressive. Nonetheless, we need to be able to say with sincerity that God has become to us as real as anything physically placed before us. God's work of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ is singularly our greatest blessing. God Himself has become to us as Mrs. Edwards repeats: "My God, my all; my God, my all."
Nothing of this experience is a ground for boasting. It is a gift that God extends if we seek Him like Mrs. Edwards with an awareness that we have no claim upon any of these blessings. Without a doubt, the thought that God is truly her Father and that she is under the care of Jesus as her "mighty Saviour" is exceedingly sweet to her. She knows her own unworthiness but His love is greater.
Until we personally appropriate the promises of God in the gospel as unshakeable and certain, we will waver wondering if everything between God and us is okay. That restlessness is only helpful if it drives us to the ultimate conclusion that God and His promises of forgiveness are infinitely more reliable than all reasonable self-doubt and accusation. We are sinners but God is a great and trustworthy Saviour.
When we can say, based on His word and not our own, "My God, my all...", then our viewpoint on everything changes. As Sarah Edwards testifies "My safety, and happiness, and eternal enjoyment of God’s immutable love, seemed as durable and unchangeable as God himself." That is extremely helpful. Sarah's peace only appears unshakeable when she believes that God and the gospel promise are absolutely certain. When she can see Jesus her Saviour "taking my heart, with all its corruptions, under his care, and putting it at his feet," then she is filled to overflowing with joy and peace. She is not sinless but nonetheless, Jesus is truly her Saviour and God is truly her Father.
I encourage you to read through Psalm 145 and contemplate God and His character and His saving works. Read and pray and consider until you believe God to be all that He promises to be to undeserving and needy sinners like you, me, and Mrs. Edwards.