“To Hold Myself in Readiness”

By Evan D. Burns

In 1826, God’s bitter providence had called Ann Judson to her heavenly home and left Adoniram Judson to mourn and continue on in his missionary labor.  After her death, in a letter on December 7, 1826, to Ann’s mother, Adoniram’s heavenly-minded piety shone through the dark night:

I will not trouble you, my dear mother, with an account of my own private feelings—the bitter, heart-rending anguish which for some days would admit of no mitigation, and the comfort which the Gospel subsequently afforded—the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which brings life and immortality to light.  Blessed assurance—and let us apply it afresh to our hearts—that, while I am writing and you perusing these lines, her spirit is resting and rejoicing in the heavenly paradise—

“Where glories shine, and pleasures roll That charm, delight, transport the soul, And every panting wish shall be Possessed of boundless bliss in Thee.”[1]

And there, my dear mother, we also shall soon be, uniting and participating in the felicities of heaven with her for whom we now mourn.  Amen.  Even so come, Lord Jesus.[2]

Approximately six months after Ann’s death, their two-year old daughter Maria was also called home.  In a letter to Ann’s mother on April 26, 1827, Judson recounted his horrible grief and his heavenly hope.

All our efforts, and prayers, and tears could not propitiate the cruel disease; the work of death went forward, and after the usual process, excruciating to a parent’s heart, she ceased to breathe…. The next morning we made her last bed in the small enclosure that surrounds her mother’s lonely grave.  Together they rest in hope, under the hope tree, which stands at the head of the graves; and together, I trust, their spirits are rejoicing after a short separation of precisely six months.  And, I am left alone in the wide world.  My own dear family I have buried; one in Rangoon and two in Amherst.  What remains for me but to hold myself in readiness to follow the dear departed to that blessed world, “Where my best friends, my kindred, dwell, where God my Saviour reigns?”[3]

[1]From a hymn by Isaac Watts.

[2]Middleditch, Burmah’s Great, 222;  Wayland, Memoir, 1:420-421.

[3]Middleditch, Burmah’s Great, 230.


Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.