"Growing up in a loving, Christian family, I was taught about Jesus Christ from the time I was young. I came to know Him as my personal Savior in first grade, after hearing the Gospel. I realized that I was a sinner and needed Jesus to save me from my sins. I always had a desire to do what “was right,” and most people considered me a “good girl.” However, God had more in store for my life than merely being a good Christian girl. Patiently and lovingly, He began drawing my heart to Himself when I was in elementary school, giving me a desire to read His Word every day and seek to please Him. In junior high, He brought a handful of Godly young women into my life who graciously took the time to invest in me. I learned much from their examples of joyfully walking with the Lord one day at a time, and trusting Him to take care of the future. God continued to give me a longing for Himself as I entered high school, challenging me to gladly laid aside everything I was holding on so tightly to, and follow Him down the narrow way.
During my high school years, I was very aware of the fact that God was calling me to live a life beyond what society presented as normal. While the world claimed that clothes, accessories, beauty, popularity, and male attention would bring confidence and fulfillment, the Lord promised me that time in His Word, prayer, and ministry to others would bring me what I was searching for. It seemed like a backwards philosophy on life, but as I began to seek Him with all of my heart, I found that I was fulfilled. I didn’t lack any good thing. My life was abundant, not because of anything I had done or anything the world had to offer, but because Christ had become my life.
Had I been asked 2 years ago to write about the life God created me to live, I would have been able to share a sweet, nice-sounding paragraph with little hesitation. I thought I had everything figured out when it came to living the Christian life. I had a strong relationship with Jesus Christ, knew what I believed, had all my standards and convictions in place, and had great plans for the next few years of my life. And then... certain circumstances took place where, suddenly, I found myself in a place (even though I was amongst other believers) where I found my every conviction and belief being tested. Every standard I had stood so firmly upon in high school was questioned. I found my relationship with the Lord faltering, yet I felt helpless to do anything to remedy it. I didn’t know who I was anymore, or how I was supposed to live as a daughter of the King.
In His lovingkindness and mercy, God began stripping away every part of me in order to re-build my life upon the Truth of His Word. This process continues to this day, and I am far from finished learning the lesson. However, the Lord has done much in my heart, revealing to me how crucial it is that my life is based upon the Gospel - that it’s Cross-centered. Growing up in a Christian home, my understanding and daily application of the Gospel was rather shallow. I knew that I was a sinner and that I needed Jesus to save me from my sins so that I could go to Heaven when I died, but that was the extent of my comprehension of the Gospel. How much I was missing! God began opening my eyes to see that He chose me before the foundation of the world, predestined me in love to be His daughter, loved me even when I was dead in my sins, redeemed and forgave me by His precious blood, lavished His grace upon me, and sealed me with the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1-2). I realized that I was struggling to live the life He called me to live because I didn’t really know Him! And I didn’t know Him because I didn’t understand the Gospel. I’ve found that daily meditating on the Gospel is crucial to living the life God created me for. Reading Ephesians 1 and 2 has been immensely helpful on this journey. Additionally, spending time every day with God alone in prayer and in His Word is vital if I want to know Him and live the life He created me for.
Although I am still sorting through many different things, this I know for sure: a life lived wholly for Christ is the only life worth living. My quest is to know God, and find Him to be more than enough. Only He can satisfy the deepest longings of my heart, only He is true Joy, and only He is the One who will never fail me. My prayer is “that I might be weaned more and more from things material - even good, legitimate things - and have my affections set more firmly on Him whom to possess is to have everything. Who could ask for more?'” (Jim Elliot) ~ Ashley