October 12, 2008

My Most Important Post

Yes, the title is true. This really is the most important post I will put on this blog. Don't panic, this is not bad news! It's quite the opposite.

I have recently gone through what I expect every person does at some point in their life: I really examined my spiritual life. I accepted Christ when I was 6 years old, and I remember being as "broken" and understanding as a child can be. I grew up in an incredible Christian environment, and so this was a natural process for me. When I was about 12, I started to question my salvation, because I couldn't specifically remember every minute detail. I remember praying about it, but never told anyone; I kept it private, because there wasn't truly a significant change in my walk.

Fast forward 11 years. Over those years, I truly loved the Lord. I never resented church or Christianity. But in my personal life, I found it difficult to have a committed prayer life, and struggled to maintain a consistent quiet time. Being a people-pleaser and extremely hard on myself, I just constantly felt inadequate. This was a very private battle for me, though. I continued to give godly counsel to people, encourage them, worship, and I tried to grow deeper. I believe that when you're truly saved, the "kindling fire" or "small flame" of desire for Him should always be there. The strength of our "fire" may come and go, but the flame should always consistently be there. I felt like my flame would light for awhile and then go completely out. When my circumstances in life were good (which they really always have been), I'd feel fine about my life and go about my business, with the Lord on the side. I never realized that I was doing this until recently.

A lot of things started to happen to make me think. I heard about a few people that I know that re-committed their lives, or got re-baptized, however you want to word it. I contemplated the difference in "re-committing" my life to Christ and never having been saved in the first place. I started my Beth Moore Bible study, which challenged me so much in the first day I was blown away. And then I became overwhelmed with the concept of parenting and how it will be my responsibility (with Kurt) to lead our children in the faith and teach them to have a passionate walk with Christ. How could I teach them to be truly passionate when I was just managing "so-so?"

All of these things contributed to a very unsettled feeling on my part. And then today, of all things, the sermon was about confirming your salvation and evaluating your experience to make sure that you are truly saved. Because of pride, I actually got nervous at first, but then it was like the Lord said to me "Just calm down and listen." So I did. Sometimes we hear things over and over, but only when our hearts are ready does it take effect. During the invitation, I quietly prayed to secure my salvation and to claim it for myself. I believe that my heart was "good" for all of these years, but my faith was carried moreso by my family and several spiritual high's. And I do believe that my heart was in the right place when I was a child. But every person's salvation experience is different, and it took me until I was 23 to get serious and claim it, not just sail along and hope that I had really been saved. Life is too short to not be fully right with the Lord.

If this had happened earlier, I think I might've been too prideful to even share this or be transparent about my spiritual life not being where it needed to be. Like I said; when your heart is ready and right, pride goes out of the way and you're proud and excited to share. My main reason in writing this is not to say "Look how spiritually developed I am"---that is NOT the case! I am sharing this because if anyone doesn't feel settled with the Lord, on any issue, confront it and deal with it. You will feel lifted and secure in your relationship with Him.

I am so thankful that God put so many situations in my path in the last months to bring me to this point. I am also thankful that my family didn't shove this under the rug and say "Oh you're fine, you don't have anything to worry about." They are understanding, supportive, and grateful that my walk is now my own. Some people that read this may be shocked, surprised, or even feel like I've been dishonest about my walk with the Lord. Please know that this is not the case. I'm on a journey like everyone else, and sometimes God gets your attention enough that you have big changes to make. Thank you for understanding this, and I hope I've encouraged you in some small way. :o)

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lilly said...

It is ironic that you posted about this because this is something that I have also been struggling with. I was also very young when I accepted Christ into my heart, and in college I truly realized that maybe I didn't know what I was doing at that age. My flame has not been a constant, strong light instead it's been a flicker here and there. I have wondered should I walk down the aisle again, and commit my life to Jesus again? Of course, pride comes right in embarrassed to walk down that aisle again.
Thank you for posting this because I know I need a strong constant flame in my life. I can't live with having a so-so life, or putting God to the side. Thanks for the encouragement!!

Tiffany said...

Way to go Ashley! I'm excited for you! Any step we take toward our Heavenly Father in our Christain walk is a beautiful thing. The heavens rejoice, and so should we as brothers and sisters in Christ. I'm here to suuport and cheer you on! ~Blessings!

Christy said...

First of all, I am very proud of you. As a pastor's daughter I completely understand the pressure, expectations, ect... that come with that. It is easy to put those on yourself as well! I was also saved at a VERY young age and was carried from then on by "expectation" and my head knowledge. I think that is very true for many people who accepted Christ when they are little. It is just easy to coast and assume that it is good enough.
It is so awesome that you have the courage to share with everyone that you are claiming Christ for yourself now-to live your faith and have a true relationship with him. I have been there as well as an adult.

I don't think it is dishonesty at all-you have simply, like you said, claimed your faith as your own. We ALL have to do that at some point.

I am happy for you :)

Ro said...

Ashley, I am so thankful that you posted this and so happy that you confirmed your salvation in your heart. This was a struggle for me too. Now as a mom, I want Rivs faith to be her own...not her parents/ friends/ LIFEgroup leaders faith. I pray she accepts Christ's gift when she grasps it not out of feeling needing to do what we want her to do or because her friends have. This may sound over the top to some. I think my commitment early own was out of pure motive but I don't think I grasped my own real need for forgiveness. I believed that Jesus was God's son and that He lived a sinless life and died and rose again, but my relationship with Him did not really take seed and begin to grow until much later. In a church like ours, children often make professions of faith very early because we have a proactive preschool program and they absorb so much! I just want her to KNOW that she KNOWS....

Rebecca said...

That was very encouraging. Thank you for sharing!

mrs.leah.maria said...

Ashley, this is absolutely beautiful. Growing up in a Christian family, accepting Christ at a young age, I know all too well your struggles. It becomes far to easy to lead a "good" life, and talk the talk while forgetting the all important relationship. I'm so happy for you!!!

Ashley said...

Ashley, thank you so much for posting this! It is helpful to know that I am not the only one struggling with this right now. I appreciate your honesty and openness about this very important subject!

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