Prior to this week when I thought of Jonathan Edwards (well to be totally honest, I don't recall ever thinking of him), I could only associate him with what I learned in 8th grade US history class. Mainly, the hell-fire and brimstone preaching from the pulpit in "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." Edwards, a British-American Puritan who started the "Great Awakening," a time of spiritual revival for the American frontier in the 1730-1750's. Personally, I have never responded well to this style, those who use fear and guilt as a tool proselytize, or for that matter really any purpose. Think: scared straight, but instead of prison, you burn in hell for all eternity. While the message may be true, the delivery, in my opinion, is lacking. Ask any parent--motivating with fear and guilt may cause action momentarily, however it's fleeting. It only lasts as long as the emotion is there. Demonstrating love, grace, and mercy tend to have a much more lasting impact on people.
However, this week I read a bit more of his writings, amazingly from his early twenties, that are as far from hell-fire and brimstone as they can be. He wrote seventy personal resolutions between 1722-1723, these were the road map for how he wanted to live his life. While reading them I could not help get a feeling of familiarity with things I have written down in journals or jotted notes in the margins of book. The words he wrote three centuries ago may be a tad different than the vernacular of today, the message is remarkably something we can all relate to.
He started his resolutions with acknowledging that he is incapable without God, but also that he won't be able to keep these resolutions if they aren't agreeable to God. How many times in our life have we tried to force things to happen that we knew were not the path we were supposed to take? The other part that struck me was that he resolved to read over these once a week. How often do we write down a goal or a vision, only to look back at it six months later? He knew that keeping them in the forefront of his mind would be the only way he would achieve them.
While all seventy are packed full of wisdom, I went through and pulled out a few that I thought were relevant to our message here at #liveitfull.
Here is a website that has all the resolutions and breaks them down into categories;
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
Time is our most valuable resource, he was resolved to maximize his use of it. It is like nothing has changed, they had distractions back in 1722?
6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
Pretty simple. He said he was resolved to LIVE IT FULL.
16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.
Don't talk bad bout people, that's it. Build people up, or stay silent. You know what your momma said about it.
17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
No regrets right? When we are on our deathbed, how we will feel about out lives?
41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.
Nightly, weekly, monthly and annual reviews of progress and evaluating how to improve. How do we achieve our goals? By checking our progress daily. The vision doesn't change but the plan to get there does.
56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
Never give up the fight against our shortcomings, no matter how much we struggle.
My biggest takeaway from his resolutions is that no matter what happens I know I'm not alone in my struggles, I'm not on an island. It made me think of a scripture;
Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
Jonathan had the same struggles that we have with time management, being kind, and feelings of wasting his life that we have today.