Did you realize that a woman who took part in influencing the history of Christianity in modern western society is someone you’ve likely never heard of?
She lived in the rural village of Epworth, England in the 1700s, and her name is Susanna Wesley. For those of you who don’t recognize the name, (and I don’t blame you) you may at least be thinking that her last name “Wesley” seems familiar – the same as some famous Christian influencers that you’ve heard about before: John Wesley and Charles Wesley.
If your brain was trying to associate them, then you are headed in the right direction!
John and Charles were two of the ten children that Susanna Wesley raised. John Wesley was a preacher who is estimated to have taught nearly a million people in his long, fruitful ministry. It is hard to overstate the impact John has had on theological thought and denominations in the western world. His brother, Charles Wesley also made a significant impact as a musician and lyricist. He wrote more than 6,600 hymns, many of which are still sung today. Two accomplished world changers, but it was their mother that helped shape their faith.
Though Susanna was a woman who crafted an impressive legacy, it didn’t come without its trials. Susanna’s husband, Samuel Wesley, was not particularly good at his job. Nor was he good with money. This left Susanna and her children to fend for themselves, working hard just to have enough for their large family to stay fed. On top of that, Susanna was responsible for all of the household duties and managed to provide a world-class education to her children through homeschooling.
Despite difficult circumstances, Susanna always trusted in God and never let her busy schedule keep her from praying.
Susanna was sure to schedule two hours of time with God every day, even amidst the most complex and busy years of raising her children. She was known to go to her favorite chair in the living room with her Bible and throw her apron over her head to allow for some “privacy” so she could spend time in prayer. Her faith and consistent prayer life obviously left their mark on her children, as we can see through the faith legacy of her sons! What a seemingly simple act – carving out time for prayer – yet it was more powerful than she could imagine.
Prayer can be a difficult thing to value these days. In a world of endless busyness and the constant bombardment of distractions, it’s hard to set things aside and just be in the presence of God. Yet prayer is one of the most influential things any of us can do.
Susanna created a legacy of prayer and faith that lived on long after her time on earth. We each have the opportunity to invest in the eternal an, in a sense, “outlive our lives” by doing so. What can you invest your time in today that will matter in eternity?
To follow the stories of other women like Susanna who have used their “every day” to shape an eternal legacy, you can pick up the book that I co-authored with my mother, Jackie Green! It’s called Only One Life: How A Woman’s Every Day Shapes An Eternal Legacy, and you can get a copy at www.onlyonelifebook.com.