Our culture has things all mixed up. We give teens so much liberty in some areas and expect so little from them in others. One area of low expectations is spiritual experience. Ann Judson turned to Christ at 16, thus beginning her personal relationship with Him. Since her journal has been preserved all these years (since 1830), how she was feeling about this personal relationship is right out there.
Ann grew up in a small town in New England where few people (only 6.9%) joined a church. They had moved far from their Puritan roots. Life was fun and very social in the early 1800’s. (Think no T.V., radio, phones, or computers to interrupt talking to one another.) She loved the parties and the clothes. She thought herself safe because of her outward morality, and this was confirmed at the age of 15 when she interpreted “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan to mean that Christian reached the Celestial City by keeping to the narrow way. Yet, she began to doubt that she was even on the narrow way:
“My heart was filled with aversion and hatred towards a HOLY God; and I felt, that if admitted into heaven, with the feelings I then had, I should be as miserable as I could be in hell.
…I began to discover a beauty in the way of salvation by Christ. He appeared to be just such a Saviour as I needed. I saw how God could be just, saving sinners through him…A view of his purity and holiness filled my soul with wonder and admiration. I felt a disposition to commit myself unreservedly into his hands, and leave it with him to save me or cast me off, for I felt I could not be unhappy, while allowed the privilege of contemplating and loving so glorious a Being… I felt myself to be a poor lost sinner, destitute of every thing to recommend myself to the divine favor; that I was, by nature, inclined to every evil way; and that it had been the mere sovereign, restraining mercy of God, not my own goodness, which had kept me from committing the most flagrant crimes.”
At the private school Ann attended, around eighty young people recorded similar personal experiences. It was happening all across America and became known as the Second Great Awakening. Revival. People of all ages experienced similar spiritual intensity. Why should we not look for that today? Perhaps our low expectations for teen spirituality stem from our need of general revival.
Think about His sovereignty:
“I am the Lord, and there is no other; I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.”
Plead for revival:
“Rain down, you heavens, from above, And let the skies pour down righteousness; Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation, And let righteousness spring up together. I, the Lord, have created it.” (Isaiah 45:6-8)
This is what happened in Ann’s teen years. Her parents and sisters were also saved during this revival. People sought to please God and glorify His way of salvation through Christ. A concern for the lost nations arose. Churches formed a cooperative missionary alliance. Ann became the first American woman to go out as a foreign missionary.
Pray for revival.
You may order Ann’s biography (My Heart In His Hands by Sharon James) at amazon.com or cvbbs.com or alibris.com to find out why her memoirs affected a whole generation of American women.