This is not Jonathan Edwards, the great puritan minister, this is Jonathan Edwards, my friend, pastor, and author. Jonathan loves investing in people and uses his gifts of conversation to pour into others. Jonathan has learned to ask a great question of those around him, “Tell me what’s new?” And then, he listens.
His book, Left, was born out of his brokenness when his father left. Through that experience, his wisdom and insight give readers hope that there is faithfulness amidst the pain.
Jonathan, in your own life, tell us how you have wrestled with brokenness
“From a very early age, I knew something was messed up. I knew my father wasn’t supposed to leave; my family wasn’t supposed to break. In God’s economy, the family is so important and it caused anger within me. From an early age, I was vulnerable because I didn’t want my father to think it was ok to leave. I didn’t want him to think I didn’t need him. There were times throughout my schooling where I would choose to read something to my classmates and I would lose it in front of my class. My mom always taught me to be open and honest before the Lord. She showed us what it meant to cry out to the Lord, ‘I need you!'”
We gain hope by recognizing our brokenness and filtering it through truth. How did you learn to filter your anger through truth?
“After my freshman year of college, I was sitting in a Hardee’s with a friend and we talked about that very thing. The last time I talked with my father, I told him how angry I was and how he had hurt me. My father looked at me and said, ‘Your dad is responsible for leaving his family. You are responsible for everything from here forward.’ My dad’s sin against my family doesn’t compare against my own sin against God’s holiness. It’s not my dad’s sin that’s keeping me from the Lord, it’s my own sin. I needed Christ as much as my dad did. It forced me to pray my heart off for him.”
Once we have wrestled with our brokenness, it is our responsibility to be a light, to invest in other people. Tell us how you are doing this today.
“A huge part of that is seeing brokenness within our church body. I sit across from people daily whose parents have left. I have been trying to ask, ‘How am I using my time to invest in those people?’ How can I help people bring hope into their family?
Just like the woman at the well: we know about your past, but we’re not going to condemn you.”
Jonathan, talk to us about gratitude.
“The gratitude comes in when, in 2010, I was on staff at Summit, I decided to be baptized. For the longest time, I had identified with the brokenness of my father leaving. I complained about what my dad had done, not what the Lord has done and how faithful my mother has been. That shift caused me to reconsider gratitude within my heart. Yes, things have happened, but the Lord is still faithful. Instead of being angry at the father who left, be grateful for the mom who stayed.”
How have humility and confidence danced together in your life?
“I have to remind myself that I am sinner first and sinned against second. You talk about me breaking my pride with my dad, wow. This did it.
It is a daily reminder that we have to learn.”
You guys connect with Jonathan and take a look at his new book!
Connect with Jonathan on Twitter - @Notthepuritan Jonathan's book, Left - www.left-book.com Jonathan's church - www.borocitychurch.com JONATHAN EDWARDS earned his BA from East Carolina University and his MDiv from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He currently serves on staff at City Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee just outside of Nashville. He and his wife live in the Murfreesboro area.