Saturday, January 28, 2012

On winning hearts

When Hans was my gentleman-friend, our long-distance "dates" would at times include lengthy readings from Jonathan Edwards' treatise on Religious Affections. Little did I know, Mr. Edwards would be a most kind and patient teacher. Years later, these readings proved to be most precious during some of the most difficult trials.

Reading long 18th-century treatises over the phone for hours was an uncommon strategy to win a lady's heart (though I don't think that was his intention). Especially when these readings often brought up difficult subjects, which were followed by painful, ego-shattering conversations.

But, win he did. He had my heart.
What he won me with, he won me to.

With his love for the truth, he taught me to love the truth. He cared deeply that I would remain faithful to Christ, and that I would understand God rightly. By this, I knew he cared deeply for me.

Ultimately, the task of parenting is to prepare the boys for our absence. Our days are numbered; our time runs short. The daily battles of my mind and heart can be summed up with one question: What am I teaching my children to love?

I can think of many answers to this question. Some things are more important than others. Right now, teaching them to love carrots, nap time, clean hands, and the dreaded toothbrush strangely occupy much of our time.

There are other things too. Among which is one of utmost importance: love others. Love the King of glory, love each other, and love our neighbors. This is the fountain from which all else will flow: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. Vitamin A in carrots and cavity-free teeth shall pass, but love is here to stay.

So in fear and trembling, we place these boys in the way of grace. And we point, and we say, "Look! Look at the cross, on which the King of glory died." With much hope, perhaps what we win them with will be what we win them to.

I have three little sisters of my own. Over the years, a few other girls kindly adopted me and made me their own. Little sisters ask a lot of questions. Sometimes, they ask about boys. I am glad that they ask, because I tend to be quite bossy that way.

I think I've found a new answer to their questions. Or rather, a new way of repeating some old answers. I think this sums it up quite well: What you win them with is what you win them to. And, what they win you with is what they win you to. It's good to know where they are taking you.

Speaking of love, here is a most peculiar proposal from Adoniram Judson to Anne Hesseltine. He wrote this letter asking Mr.Hesseltine for his daughter's hand in marriage. His words make diamond rings look like pebbles on the beach, seriously.
I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of him who left his heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with the crown of righteousness, brightened with the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair.
Mr.Hesseltine handed the letter and the decision to his daughter. She accepted.

What Adoniram won Anne with, he won her to. Together, they sailed beyond their deaths, and unto that golden shore, where their pain and tears are no more.


Lily said...

: )

i first read religious affections 5 years ago. it was an abridged version, edited by James Houston who offers wonderful suggestions for devotional reading at the back of the book. i no longer remember what i took away from the first read, but my heart has been gripped by layers upon layers of truths contained therein ever since (perhaps in conjunction with the weekend seminar given by rev. Samuel Ling on the doctrine of salvation). God's patience in gradually working truths "into" our lives is amazing.

your main point was something else, though. : )

E! said...

ah, winsomeness.

Jen said...

Beautiful beautiful post! Thank you!

The Bucks said...

WOW! Incredibly written....beautiful point. Thanks!!!

Michelle @ The Willing Cook said...

What a desire you have given me to focus my son and daughters toward such Earth-shattering, Heaven-bound love. Thank you!

ruth@gracelaced said...

"What you win them with is what you win them to." I don't know who said it first, but I've it's always been a favorite quote of mine from Mark Dever. There's so much truth in it...great application!

thetoddlerwhisperer said...

Very inspiring. I love that..."what you win them with is what you win them to." I must pick up that book...maybe the abridged version. ;)

Seda said...

Thank you for dropping by! =)

Ruth, I've seen it in several places, and as you said, "there is so much truth in it." Thank you for pointing me to Mark Dever. Was it in a book or one of his sermons? I would love to go the source.

Jen said...

Wow! beautiful!

Kevin Chen said...

ahhhh that letter is so good...