Ashley Harp was a curly-haired tomboy when our friendship took root many years ago. Today, she is a twenty-year-old young woman with a heart for Christ, a love for her family, a talent for art, and still very curly hair.
Since those early teen years, Ashley has experienced much and discovered truths that have shaped her life in immense ways. Her testimony is one that I hope will inspire the next generation to live intentionally for God’s glory.
Unlike many young people today, Ashley is a Christian who desires to live a life radically set apart by submitting to God and her parents’ authority. But this hasn’t been easy. It is often still a struggle for Ashley to respect those in authority over her.
“There was a point where I just didn’t want to talk with Mom and Dad because I knew they were going to point me back to God,” Ashley recalled. “And at the time, I didn’t want to be pointed back to God.”
Yet even the struggles in Ashely’s Christian walk have worked to ingrain key truths into her heart. One of these would be the importance of not only obeying her parents unconditionally, but seeking a relationship with them.
“You can obey [your parents] but really not know them or have a relationship with them… It takes effort and you have to be purposeful,” Ashley shared, but she knows the work is worth it.
Instead of waiting for her parents to initiate time with her, Ashley tries to intentionally weave her busy schedule into theirs by spending extra hours with her dad in the car or stepping in to serve her mom at home. Relationships matter to her, and by growing closer to her parents, Ashely’s relationship with Christ has burrowed deeper too.
“I never regretted time spent working on relationships with people,” she said in retrospect of her teenage years.
Using Time Intentionally
There are other aspects of her life as a young person that Ashley never regrets. One is taking the time to try new things.
A church internship, ministry projects, and computer coding were all activities Ashley tried her hand at as a teenager. And even if they didn’t lead her anywhere specific or successful, she’s glad she stepped down those roads to experience something new.
Yet there are also habits and hobbies during her teen years that Ashley looks back on with remorse.
“Our family didn’t watch a lot of TV and we didn’t do a lot of video games,” she said, “but I do regret all the time that I spent on that.” And while there is a balance to be found here, Ashley personally feels that her hours spent in front of the television were not used intentionally or wisely.
Accepting God’s grace for misused time, Ashley strives today to carefully choose how her days will be spent. Especially when it comes to seasons of waiting.
“I often ask myself, ‘Is this the best use of my time?’ And I really don’t know what the best use of my time is,” Ashley said. “I have to remember that God can use any decision. Therefore, if my options are in line with Scripture, the only wrong answer is inaction.”
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil (Eph. 5:15-16).
An Intentional Christian Walk
It was only several years ago that Ashley wrestled with the issue of communication. By nature an introvert, she struggled to build friendships or even converse with others, despite her hunger for relationship. Through years of growth, the Lord has revealed to Ashley her deep love for people and enjoyment of working among them. Today, she has a degree in Communications.
Even now, though, Ashley often fights the desire to find fulfillment in people rather than God. She must remind herself that her thirst for human friendship is satisfied in him alone, the greatest Friend.
“God is the only one who can fulfill the desire I have at the moment.”
And she is convinced that spending regular time with God in his Word is key to living intentionally for his glory. Ashley’s advice to her generation proves this:
“Be very much in the Word and seeking God yourself.” This means persevering even when it’s difficult. “There are still lots of times now where I don’t feel like it, but being consistent and doing it does make it easier and you do start to enjoy it.”
Ashley knows she is different. She knows that the difficulties of living life this way can prove discouraging. But she also knows that it’s all worth it. Jesus Christ is the one who has made such an eternal difference in Ashley’s life, and it is he who inspires her to use her years as a young person intentionally and for his glory.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).