A Life that Counted!
Debra Coe (c) 1994 all rights reserved
I have found that history can help give us a better perspective of our lives today. The following is a true story about a woman who was "just a mother." She sometimes wondered if her life was one that made any difference in the world. Reading her story helps me have a fresh, positive perspective on my calling of motherhood.
Susannah Annesley, the youngest of twenty-five children, was born in England in 1669. Her father was a good Christian man and a minister, so the importance of religion was strongly taught to her in her youth. Beginning as a child, she had a strong desire to make her life count in the world through her Christian service.
She lived in an age of religious persecution, with many put to death for their religious views (even her own father had almost lost his life for what he believed). Many confused the practice of true Christianity with politics.
Susannah loved to read. History in conjunction with religion seemed to be a favorite topic of hers. These studies caused her to question many of the practices of her time and she turned to the Bible for truth.
Her deep love for God and the peace she felt from following Him gave her a great desire to start a spiritual fire that would burn not only in London, but throughout all of England and then throughout all the earth. She wanted so much to help others to know Christ rather than just perform the outward appearances of religion. She wanted to help create a better world. Her father had once told her that England needed someone to light a candle and hold it high enough for all to see their way out of the present spiritual darkness. But he said it would be like trying to light a candle and keep it burning in the midst of a hurricane. To this Susannah replied, "With God all things are possible."
Each day she prayed, "Dear God, guide me. Help me do Thy will. Make my life count." But the only answer she got was "WAIT."
While she waited she got married and had children. She gave birth to nineteen children in all, nine of which lived to adulthood. As the mother of all these children, she decided to raise them dedicated to the Lord. She felt that her best way of serving God was through raising these children and educating them. Perhaps some of them would then be instrumental in helping to change the world.
Susannah's husband, Samuel Wesley, was a minister who believed very strongly in preaching the truth as best he understood it -- whether it was popular or not. Together they went through many hard times because truth was not in fashion. But they held to their beliefs and Susannah worked hard raising her children even under the most difficult of circumstances.
At least two sons proved Susannah to be correct in her belief that her purpose was to raise and educate good children for God. John and Charles Wesley became staunch ministers who wanted very much to revive Christianity.
As time went on, John Wesley and Charles Wesley became leaders in what became The Great Awakening. John Wesley was the founder of Methodism and Charles Wesley not only preached, but also wrote many hymns, some of which are still found in our Hymn books today, such as "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing," and "Rejoice, the Lord is King."
The Great Awakening was a major event in history (often skipped in school so you may want to read about it with your children) that had a profound effect on the heritage of the United States. The preaching of this period emphasized that all men are equal in the sight of God. This basic principle shaped many of the ideas that went into the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Both of these documents paved the way for the religious freedom that made the restoration of the Gospel through Joseph Smith possible. John and Charles Wesley truly helped put in place the conditions needed for the gospel to be taught around the world. By teaching her children, and being totally devoted to God herself, Susannah Wesley did begin a great spiritual fire. Elder George Q. Cannon said, "John Wesley. . . was raised up and inspired of God to do a work, and he did it."
John and Charles always gave great praise and credit to their mother for the way she raised her children. She must have been a great woman and certainly a great mother.
Samuel Wesley, Susannah's husband was certainly correct when he told her, "Some of the truly great people are the ones who were faithful in doing simple things." (Susannah Wesley by Charles Ludwig, page 89)
At least three modern prophets, David O. McKay, Harold B. Lee and Ezra Taft Benson, have honored her and have considered her council so to be wise that they have each encouraged all of us to follow some of it.
There is much to be learned from this great woman who had a clear vision of the influence a mother can have for good.
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