My Story is God’s Testimony;
Finding wholeness in the depths of His Love.
I clearly recall one of the darkest days of my life.
Yet, it’s not the darkness that left its mark on my memory. That day, 10 years into my Christian walk, was the beginning of my transformation from shadows of doubt and despair into Life marked by Light– full of hope, peace, and certainty in God and myself as His Daughter.
» In 2012, I began the transformational journey of learning to fortify myself by planting myself in His consistent Love, believing the Truth of what Jesus already thoroughly accomplished for me, and living by faith in His Resurrection Life within me.
» But, the real revolution came about once I learned to live from my union with Christ, as one with Him.
Which brings me to YOU!
I created His truly blog for every Daughter of God to know the possibilities of living in wholeness:
» Abundant life unshakeable by circumstances.
» Built on the reality of who God is, what Jesus accomplished on the cross and in Resurrection, & God’s Holy Spirit within you.
» And, what that means for you today and every day for eternity!
His truly blog exists to nourish the hearts of women with the truths, realities, and testimonies that have brought so much freedom and Christ gained Victory to my life.
So, now let me share a bit of my testimony and how God transformed my life by unveiling what was there all along.
… Play …
At the age of 20, I accepted Jesus as my Savior while attending church with friends.
I remember going to work that same evening as a waitress. The patrons asked how I was doing (in typical-small-talk fashion), I smiled from ear to ear and excitedly told them, “I am doing GREAT! I was saved today!”
Obviously, many of my customers asked what I meant by that statement and I replied, “I accepted Jesus as my Savior!”
And… that’s as far as each conversation went as I went skipping through the rest of my bar shift.
Ahh… young love!
Yes, I was “in love” with Jesus!
I stopped doing the drugs and party lifestyle that I now understood did not line up with my new heart and the heart of the One whom I loved.
the question that changed my life
Unfortunately, as it happens too often for Christians:
I was not discipled. (Again- back to the heart of His truly. It is one thing to “become a Christian”- quite another to be discipled into maturity).
I had become quite lonely as I stopped partying and spending time in relationships that weren’t healthy.
Once a week on Sundays was the only time I got to be around other Christians.
Those conversations were surface-level at best.
I joined Bible studies, but, it felt more like I was being taught at instead of gaining meaningful Christ-centered connections.
One consistency about my life is that I will never settle for surface-level; I am most comfortable in the depths.
Authenticity or nothing.
My Love was growing luke warm because I didn’t know how to develop relationship with the One who was supposed to be my whole world. There was a longing for more because of my pure desire as I was awakened to Truth; I didn’t know how to let Him cultivate that hunger so I began to look for other “loves” to fill what I perceived as lack.
Eventually, I returned to the same unhealthy activities that I had stopped when I first became a Christian.
But, this time it was different.
I was behaving the same as I had been before knowing Christ in my life.
Yet, every now and then I would hear a gentle “whisper” in my heart from God, reminding me that I was His girl and I was better than what I was giving myself over to.
I still had a desire to get close to God, and I even went to church services high on drugs.
Finally, at a party while high, I went into the bathroom to wash my hands.
When I looked in the mirror, it was as if I could see Jesus’ eyes within my own.
A loving, yet very serious question echoed deep from within me, “Is this worth it to you?” I was instantly sobered.
I realized that He loves me and paid the deepest price to rescue me. His love would never be taken away from me. The depth of His Love was evident from His stare.
But, I had a choice: allow the very vice He paid to rescue me from keep my own heart in bondage?
In that moment, Jesus presented me with the Truth: I knew enough to be accountable- what I was doing wasn’t right and He loved me too much to let me slip away.
It was His love for me that compelled me to change my life for good: I was no longer willing to trample on the grace that Jesus lovingly gives.
I read my Bible continually and memorized many scriptures; I’ve always been incredibly passionate about the written Word of God!
I went on several mission trips.
I was well-known as the Christian girl at my workplaces.
I married a man who also loves the Lord; our wedding was an invitation for God to play the major role in our marriage.
Many other Christians remarked to my husband and I that they admired our devotion for knowing more about God and living in ways trying to please Him.
exchanging Light for darkness
My dark thoughts were laced with the poison of the loneliness, abandonment, confusion, and lack of trust I had for God.
Little by little the small stones of accusation that I held against God over the years had now become a wall to separate myself from Him- a stronghold “that exalted itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10).
This was a dark day for me; to leave the fellowship of Jesus is to exchange the light for darkness.
My serious contemplation of turning from God was interrupted when I “out of nowhere” remembered the words of apostle Peter when Jesus asked if he would also turn his back on Jesus and stop following Him: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6).
Though these words were recorded in the Bible from thousands of years ago, at that moment I knew the Spirit of God spoke this directly to my heart and it was just as applicable to me as it was to Peter.
This sobering Word stopped me from taking the destructive path I was about to step onto. I believed the Christian walk was difficult, yet, it was better than the life of little-to-no-hope I had left behind 10 years prior. I thought, …”at least from time-to-time I have a good walk with God. That is better than the complete darkness of denying Him.”
Again, it was my personal experience with God that convinced me to continue in His plans for me. However, my heart had not been healed from my past grievances, I was simply choosing the better of the two options.
I know that sounds harsh.
I even cringe writing that here and now.
But, it was “my truth” at the time.
And, if we are honest, » how often is Christianity presented as simply an upgrade to this life and/or the life to come after death?
But, that day stands out for me as the turning point in my walk with God; I was no longer content to live as a Christian under the mask that pretended like living like hell until I got to Heaven was enough.
You see, though I was on the right track, my relationship with God was in a continual high and low pattern.
My “worth” was dependent upon how much I felt I loved God on any given day or how well I did performing whatever standards I created for myself.
I often battled with depression and suicidal thoughts. From what I could see around me, such struggles (to varying degrees) were to be expected from the Christian life- pretty much “the norm”.
drawing a line in the sand
Around this time, my husband and I had a conversation while driving in our car. I said, “I know I’m supposed to be out sharing the gospel with other people… But, I don’t really feel like I have much to offer anybody besides an invitation to give up the life they know so they could live in condemnation and guilt until they finally die, then they get to go to heaven.”
Obviously, this was not Truth.
But, to me it was my reality based on my experiences; we live our lives from the things we hold to be true within our hearts.
By the end of our conversation, my husband and I both stated that we knew there had to be more to Christianity but weren’t sure what it looked like or how to even get a glimpse of what it was that we were missing.
(If I was listening to my best friend share her story like this with me today, I would hold her hand and assure her that the pressure to perform is off.
I would begin to let her know that though Jesus deserves to be shared with everyone, He first wants to be known intimately by her (*eternal life is to know the Father and the One He sent).
I’d encourage her to learn to live from a heart that is deeply rooted and established in His Love and Truth and allow Him to remove lies that misshaped her understandings of Him and replace with the goodness of His gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is then that others will see the God of Love displayed in our motives and desire to be known by Him.
Then, I’d give her a big hug!)
At the end of this car ride, my husband and I prayed and asked God to show us and lead us into His Truth.
We were hungry and desperate enough for Him to receive what He was about to bring us into!
Soon after this prayer, my husband “coincidentally” came across a video of a man sharing the gospel. But, this good news (gospel) was different than the perspective we held.
We were captivated by the way he shared about the finished work of Jesus on the cross, the Resurrection power of the Holy Spirit and what a Christian life without compromise and full of daily hope looks like. We watched more of this man speaking, always going back to the Bible to check scripture in order to protect ourselves.
And, each time we did so, the same scriptures that we read so many times before began to come to Life in my Spirit in a way that produced hope!
I felt Alive in a way that I had never been before.
My husband and I drew a line in the sand and declared that we would believe the Word of God above what we had always been taught or what our experiences dictated. We asked God to remove any and all lenses that we had interpreted the Bible and Him through so that we could see what He really wanted us to get from His Word (this is a prayer that we still pray as we continue in our walk).
The scriptures that were once separated puzzle pieces in my pocket were now coming together to form a picture of God and His gospel, a cohesive foundation I felt secure to stand upon.
what kind of love is this?
I began to see that Jesus dying on the cross was more than Jesus paying my due punishment as a sinner so I could be saved from Hell and go to Heaven.
The cross of Jesus Christ was more about Him and His nature to reconcile than about the shame I felt from how I had lived from my nature.
The depths and lengths He went through to conquer sin were to bring reconciliation to my relationship with Him (effective immediately), not simply just to clean up my mess of a life. I am God’s daughter. ♥
Why, oh why, did I interpret the gospel for too long as:
“‘Ashleigh, you’ve messed up so much.
Will you ever get it right? [SIGH]
I’m gonna send my Son to save you from the fires of hell.
Until then, make sure you focus on what a screwup you are ..’ -God”
× NO! ×
(of course, the above interpretation of how I interpreted the gospel is an exaggeration, but it is consistent with the narrative that continually ran through my mind, how I viewed my role in Christianity and how I viewed God’s patient ‘tolerance’ of me.)
I actually get it now! His LOVE for me compelled Him to save me! When I say “Love” I don’t mean a dry, dull, going-through-the-motions-obligatory-self-serving kind of dealing with each other that is too often passed off as “love”. I mean:
and–eager–to–make–His–Home–within–me kinda LOVE.
† YES!!! †
Yes, it was because of sin (noun) and my sinning (verb) that Jesus went to go to the cross; but, it was His Love for me that compelled Him to do so! These may be “different sides of the same coin”, but when I flipped the coin it sure flipped my Life (pardon the cheesiness of this sentence, but, it’s true)!
Changing our focus from what Jesus destroyed (sin) to His motives and accomplishment (Love and reconciliation) brings about fulfillment of His purposes.
We are what we focus on.
(or… “We are what we eat” … in that case- have Communion! ;))
compelled by Love, not obligated by guilt
I began living empowered by His Love instead of “striving to not sin.”
Ahhh….. Maturing Love!
The more I lived from this as Reality, the more I actually allowed myself to receive the Love of God.
The permeating, tangible, reaching-deep-down-into-my-very-being Love of God began to nourish my heart.
From this nourishment, I began to have more and more seemingly “effortless” victories over battles with the sinful nature that I once considered my “forever-to-be nemesis”.
My passionate “YES!” to God began to grow so much louder that it made my “no!” to sin much easier.
The occasional experiences with God in the past that helped me “hold on a while longer” were now becoming my daily food that sustains me in Abundant Life as I learned to cultivate my relationship with Him. Eternal Life is knowing God and the One He sent. It is my pleasure to seek God with all my heart and find Him daily, already there, expecting me.
It is when I truly receive and remain in His faithful, unwavering Love for me that I am empowered to live Christlike… to be an imitator of God (Ephesians 5:1)! This was a core value that shaped my transformation.
I was beginning to live out of His Love for me and I was finally able to start loving God the way I had always desired I would!
I began to love myself. And, in turn, I was able to love others more authentically.
I began passionately telling others about God’s love for them and what Jesus did on the cross to demonstrate that love and bring about reconciliation with the Father; I am a minister of reconciliation! I was sharing all of this because I am now convinced that the gospel actually is good news!!!
My love for God & His Love for people overflows onto others as I desire deeply for Jesus to receive the “joy” He paid for on the cross: for each of us to turn from the defeated power of sin, return to the Father and to live abundantly from that reunion!
Jesus states that eternal Life is knowing the Father and the one whom He sent. I now understand that God is invested in my in-Him-day-to-day life just as much as He cares about where I go when I die.
I began to experience eternal life when I received Jesus as Savior – The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has made His home in me. It is my choice to enter into that invitation for eternal life through relationship. It is my privilege to know God more deeply and profoundly each day; this is where experiencing abundant Life stems from. God is my best friend and I steward our relationship for the highest treasure that it is!
Why did I share my story in such depth with you?
I do so because I’ve come to realize that much of my story is not unique to only me. The details may be different, but the answer is the same.
There is a deep cry for more, a “knowing” at the very fiber of our being that there is more to knowing, loving and being loved by God than has yet been experienced.
I am passionate about testifying of the works of God in order to bring hope for that heart cry- to help women step into and abide in the reality that is union with Christ!
If any part of my story resonated with you then I’d love for you stick around His truly, becoming part of our community.
» Because YOU, lovely daughter of God, are who this blog is for. Throughout my desperation, pain, loneliness, seeking and ongoing transformation, I would have loved to have someone encourage me so I could build endurance, for the pure motive that I grow in Christ-likeness and bring glory to God in so doing………
And this is what I desire you realize from my testimony :
And, this is why I created His truly for you: to help you cultivate the soil of your heart so that Christ in all His fullness can be known to you and through you.
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