I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t convicted over my sin. From a very early age I was deeply burdened and knew that Jesus – the guy everyone tells me about – died because of my sin.
And it broke my heart.
I remember our family talking about Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, and I couldn’t stop crying. I was approximately five at the time and my parents were bewildered by my display of intense emotion and kept asking, “What’s wrong sweetie?” I’m not sure what I told them, but I remember what I was feeling: disbelief and guilt that someone like Jesus would go to a small town like Bethlehem for a person like me.
Fast forward to July 2001. One day I was with my dad at a job site, doing my homework. The homeschool curriculum we used was faith based and in the books were little comic strips. One stands out in my memory. So simple, but the Lord used it. A boy was crying because he wanted to be saved and his mom (I think?) prayed with him. This prompted the question to my dad, “What does it feel like to be a Christian?” I’m assuming I asked this to figure out whether or not I was one.
Well, two and two came together. The Lord opened my eyes to the truth: being sorry for my sin wasn’t enough. I had to follow Him. I prayed and “asked Jesus into my heart”. He came and I’m so glad.
Even as I type this out, I am overwhelmed by God’s grace given to such a young child. It’s hard to believe that I am coming up on my 16th spiritual birthday, praise the Lord.
There was no obvious change or huge transformation. It was just the light bulb turning on for a little girl. It was simply the gifts of Christ’s righteousness, justification, and the indwelling Spirit, bestowed on a little girl who didn’t even understand those words.
God showed His new daughter the next step to take and began a pattern in her life that is still continuing today.
“Ashley, you need to learn about me every day.”
“Yes, that’s why I have given you My Word, the Bible.”
I started reading the Bible daily.
“Ashley, are you willing to do whatever I call you to do?”
“I’m a little afraid.”
“I’ll be with you.”
“Ashley, you need to serve at summer camp.”
“I don’t even like kids. Can you give me a sign?”
“Yes, your faith is small. But I’ll give you a sign and teach you My love.”
“Ashley, you need to forgiven those who have hurt you.”
“I can’t. I’m so angry.”
“But I have forgiven you.”
“Lord, I have a hard time loving people well. Can you help me see them like you do?”
“Look at the cross, Ashley.”
“Ashley, I have plans for you at Bible school.”
“But I have plans. And they are good ones.”
“You said you would follow Me.”
“You need to let go of the things you love too much, Ashley.”
“But Lord! It hurts too much. I don’t think I can.”
“I always have something better for you.”
“Ashley, stop trying to earn your salvation. I already love you!”
“But performing makes me feel good about myself.”
“It’s not about you.”
“Ashley, can you love your son they way I love my daughter?”
“No, I’m too self-centered.”
“Let Me love him through you.”
“Will you endure hardship with joy, Ashley?”
“Oh, anything but that.”
“I will show you how.”
Next (and current) step:
“Ashley, start writing.”
“I’m afraid of not having anything important to say.”
“Write about Me.”
“But I can’t really put the time in.”
“Oh, I can find some dead times. Early in the morning, during Aiden’s naps, in the evenings…”
“But my family needs me.”
“Your family needs you to obey the Lord.”
“What if I fail?”
“You are making it about you again.”
“I guess that is all about me.”
“Remember, Ashley, I am always here to help you.”
“That’s right. Okay, Jesus.”
So this is where the Lord has brought me. He gives me one thing at a time and teaches me step by step how to follow Him. It has been a journey including some painful sacrifices, but blessed indeed. I am thankful to my Lord, who will not let me settle for surviving. He has so much more planned for me than living for myself day to day. And the best part is that is that He is my companion in it all.
Do you know the Lord?