Supposedly, these housewife tips were circulated in the late 1800s:
“Have dinner ready, prepare yourself, be fresh-looking, clear away the clutter, prepare the children, minimize all noise, be happy to see him, listen to him (remember his topics of conversation are more important than yours), make him comfortable, take off his shoes, be a little gay.”
If that was the prevailing attitude, we might smugly comment, “That advice had to be written by a man. As if the woman of the house hasn’t put in a long day already, cleaning, cooking, laundering, ironing, taking care of the children, and more. Now she gets to wait on her husband? Ridiculous!”
If exposed to enough old nonsense, such as the above, we’re likely to miss true gems. We see an old picture, a copyright date from decades ago, and we think the article or book will be as worthwhile as those housewife tips. But that’s not necessarily the case.
For example, do you recognize this gentleman?
Allow me to introduce you to Desiderius Erasmus, born around 1467 in Holland.
Erasmus was a teacher, theologian, and author, critical of the Catholic church and its abuses of the time. One belief held by the church hierarchy: Scripture is much too complicated for the common man to understand. Only priests should have access to the Bible, and they are the only ones qualified to interpret for the masses.
Erasmus wrote: “I disagree very much with those who are unwilling that the Holy Scripture…be read by the uneducated, as if Christ taught such intricate doctrines that they could scarcely be understood by very few theologians.”
Such writings helped prepare the way for Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation.
The common sense of Erasmus becomes obvious in more quotes such as these.
- “If you keep thinking about what you want to do or what you hope will happen, you won’t do it and it won’t happen.”
- “Prevention is better than cure.”
- “A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit.”
Good advice, even if it is five hundred years old.
Throughout the centuries, women, too, have acquired wisdom to share. Unfortunately, most was never published. In the male-dominated world of past generations, women were not offered that privilege.
One exception is Julian of Norwich, born 1342. She actually prayed for a serious illness to help her understand the sufferings of Jesus. At age thirty, the illness came, accompanied by sixteen visions. She spent the rest of her life meditating on her visions and writing about them. Her book was the first written in English by a woman. Here are several of her truth gems:
- “The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.”
Sounds like an addendum to Paul’s instruction to rejoice always (Philippians 4:4). I appreciate the sweet motivation she offers for finding joy in each day.
- “Truth sees God, and wisdom contemplates God, and from these two comes a third, a holy and wonderful delight in God, who is love.”
Oh, yes. The more we know of God, the more we direct our thoughts to Him, the more we enjoy Him!
- “Of all the things our minds can think about God, it is thinking upon his goodness that pleases him most and brings the most profit to our souls.”
Again, such astute observations. Even if formulated six hundred years ago.
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Thank you, Father, for preserving a wealth of evidence, confirming your presence and inspiration throughout the ages. Thank you for the testimony of thousands of the saints from ages past. Their perseverance and faith continue to inspire us centuries later. May we not be among those who ignore the wisdom you have already revealed.
(Art and photo credits: http://www.bjws.blogspot.com; http://www.individual.utoronto.ca; www.trinitystores.com.)