“…I did have a lot of fun when I was out with my friends, I felt the opposite when I was home by myself”

“…I did have a lot of fun when I was out with my friends, I felt the opposite when I was home by myself”

I grew up going to church every Sunday without fail. Unfortunately, God and the Gospel did not permeate the home where I grew up. I came to believe that being a Christian was more about following the right rules than about having a relationship with God. I learned that Christians shouldn’t swear, listen to secular music, drink, smoke, or have sex before marriage. I have no doubt that good intentions lay behind these rules, but they sucked all the life, joy, and personal nature out of knowing and loving God.

Not surprisingly, I graduated from high school, went off to college and rebelled, doing all of the things on the “forbidden” list. While I was at first extremely wary of the students who spent their weekends partying, I realized that they seemed to be having a good time and I soon joined them. My party girl lifestyle continued for several years, and while I did have a lot of fun when I was out with my friends, I felt the opposite when I was home by myself. The fun quickly fizzled and left me feeling alone and unsure of what to do about it.

That is when God intervened in a miraculous way. A friend of mine from college called me up and invited me to go out dancing in the city one Friday night. We got dressed up, headed into town, had a couple drinks and hit the dancefloor. I saw a guy there that I thought was good looking and gave him my phone number, which was something I had never done before. A few weeks later, that guy called me up and brought me to Pastor Mark’s church. It was there that I heard the Gospel for the first time despite having grown up in church. Suddenly, my life made sense. I understood why my life was a wreck and I couldn’t seem to fix it. I needed Jesus to fix it.

That was many years ago. I am now happily married and a mother of four awesome kids. In the years since I met Jesus, he has brought me on a winding journey. I have been through seasons in which God taught me about who He is and how much He loves me. I have also been through seasons in which I’ve dealt with pain from my past. These have been seasons where God has graciously walked with me while I forgave people who I had been bitter against and learned to love and bless them instead. As difficult as these seasons were, I am thankful for God healing my past and giving me a future of freedom in Him. I am still amazed at the about-face that my life took on that random Friday night in a bar. I was headed for certain self-destruction, but God stepped in and drew me to Himself, and I am looking forward to the day that I will see him face to face and be forever and finally home.

Grace & Ashley