Guest post by: Ashley Harkleroad
1 + 1 = 2. We are taught this as children and there is no debating this simple fact. Nobody would ever say “I don’t believe in 1 + 1 = 2”, “I believe that 1 + 1 can equal 2, but it can also equal 3, 4, or 5” or “I believe 1 + 1 equals something, I just don’t know what”. This is how I was raised to believe in the stories from the bible.
It is fact. There is no debate. The bible was just another history book. In fact, it was the only history book that ever really interested me! I think the best grade I ever got in a history class was a “C”, but in religion class I always excelled; top of my class even! It was easy for me to memorize the Beatitudes, the commandments and the sacraments (did I mention I was raised Catholic?). But that’s all it really was. Just a list of rules, things to memorize and pretty ceremonies.
In some ways, I am very thankful for this. Never in my life have I doubted the existence of God. Never have I doubted that I am a sinner in need of a savior. Not once have I questioned if heaven and hell exist. But as James 2:19 says “You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that- and shudder.” So I was no better than a demon, but because I didn’t know any better, I was okay with it!
By age 10, my parents separated. My mom, who only became Catholic to marry my dad, started looking for a new church. My dad, who felt too ashamed of the divorce to enter a Catholic church, was as well. My dad started going to a non-denominational church that his new neighbors invited him to. They had a youth program, something I had never experienced before. And it was fun! We played games and sang songs with a beat! (no offense catholic churches, I still adore some of your hymns!) The message there was always entertaining, but also made a point. This was the first time I really enjoyed going to church and actually talked to fellow members other than “peace be with you”.
My mom was being pressured by her parents to move back home since my dad was no longer a reason to stay in California. So we packed up and moved to Indiana, and once again needed to find a church. We had asked the pastor at our old church if he knew anyone in the Midwest, and he recommended a pastor that lived in Chicago. We talked to that pastor and found out he was raising money to plant a church in the same small town in Indiana that we had just moved to!
We officially became members of a church planting team, and I slowly started to learn there was more to Jesus than facts and rules. But at the same time, I was sent to my first public school. I was in shock from how different my Catholic elementary school was from this public middle school. The other students seemed to be so much older than I. They used words people would only spell out at my last school. They talked about thing I had only seen on T.V. I didn’t know how to balance what I was learning at church, with what was going on at school. So I didn’t. I let Satan win. I rebelled against my mother and my teachers. One of my closest friends was on house arrest, the other taught me to flirt my way through life.
Thankfully, neither of them followed me to my high school. Once again, I had a fresh start. I made new friends and the church was finally launched to the public. My new best friend was a Christian, who had just moved to the area. Her family started going to my church. Finally, both my church life and school life aligned. I had to be the same person in both places.
All this time, I had been storing up more head knowledge about God, but still hadn’t formed an actual relationship with Him. For my best friend’s birthday, her parents took us to a three-day long Christian music festival (think Woodstock, for Christians).
One night, while Casting Crowns was playing Slow Fade, I broke down crying. I had finally realized that my knowledge of Him was not enough. I realized that following rules and memorizing facts would not save me. Only a relationship with Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for my sin (my sins!) could save me. I asked Jesus for that salvation. I asked Him to keep me from slow fades. Finally, my heart and my mind both knew Jesus Christ.
About the author
Ashley is a Christian, wife & mom of two beautiful tiny humans. She believes that because we were made in the image of God, we were made to create. It is her passion to help women find a creative devotion that captivates them & inspires joy, and to provide guidance in glorifying God through them.
Website: Created to Glorify