While Whitney and I have been waiting for our new copy of Stepping Heavenward to arrive in the mail, we have been reading Beautiful Girlhood, by Mabel Hale. Both of the girls have read this book on their own, but I thought it would be nice to pull it out and review some of my favorite chapters together with Whitney. I recently posted a chapter titled, “The Strength of Obedience”. Below is another chapter I found exceptionally good titled, “A New Awakening”. It is about being born again, and would be so helpful to a young girl (or anyone!) to understand the process of conversion, and what may take place in a young girl’s heart as she goes through it.
After we read this chapter, Whitney and I talked about how neither one of us can quote the exact day or time we were saved, like many people do. Because this has troubled me personally at times, I decided to share with Whitney the following excerpt from my 1901 copy of Stepping Heavenward. The main character, Katie, is talking to her pastor, Dr. Cabot:
“There is one thing more that troubles me,” I said. “Most persons know the exact moment when they begin real Christian lives. But I do not know of any such time in my history. This causes me many uneasy moments.”“You are wrong in thinking that most persons have this advantage over you. I believe that the children of Christian parents, who have been judiciously trained, rarely can point to any day or hour when they began to live this new life. The question is not, do you remember when you entered this world, and how! It is simply this: Are you now alive and an inhabitant thereof?”
I believe the truth we read together in this excerpt was a blessing to Whitney, as it has been to me.
Note: I hesitate to post a book chapter again, but it’s not too long, and in case there is someone who would like to read it, here it is. Copyright is public domain.
“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth. Ecclesiastes 12:1
Every girl who has had ordinary religious training knows that there rules a God over all who is all-powerful and is called our heavenly Father. She also knows the story of Christ’s life and death, why He came to earth to suffer and to die. She has heard and read of Heaven and the angels, and our future home. She has also been taught that we owe our service to God, that we ought to do right and not evil all the days of our lives. She has been made to feel that when she does wrong it grieves God and brings His displeasure upon her. With many of a deeply impressionable nature has come a desire to profess Christ, and to serve Him fully, while they are yet but little girls.
As the child passes into her teens there comes a deeper awakening, and sometimes this new awakening seems to bring the girl into the presence of God Himself. Somewhere along in these years the child who felt responsible only to her parents for her actions now begins to realize that she must answer to God Himself. Before, this child thought of wrong only as something forbidden by her parents, but now she begins to answer to a higher court. It is in this sense a solemn time.
When the girl reaches the age where she feels accountable to God for her own actions, she begins to feel the need of higher help in order to do right. She looks with a new questioning upon the conduct of others, even of her parents, and sees in their lives a lack of true conduct or motive. She finds herself unable to do what she knows she should do, and realizes that her help must come from a higher power.
This change of attitude toward God does not come instantly, but as the trees bud and leaf in the spring, every day bringing a gradual change until they stand in full leaf, so the girl week by week develops and gains knowledge and experience until she stands a woman grown before her God. At first there were only glimpses of character and purpose to which she wished to attain, now she understands fully what her duty is before God. And as she saw her duty clearer and clearer before God she realized more and more her shortcomings. Then came the natural cry of her heart for God, the longing of her soul for help from above.
The young heart thus first really awakes to its needs, finds the simple story of the cross and power of Christ to save easily comprehended and embraced. The mind has not been filled with the doubts and questionings that often hinder those who are older, and the truths of religion are quickly grasped. This is the time when the greater portion of those who later are faithful, earnest Christians begin their service and feel the first touch of divine forgiveness.
This awakening of the conscience toward God is a wonderful thing. It brings a vague uneasiness that causes the young heart to stop to ponder and consider, and turns the thoughts naturally to holy things. If our girl will open her heart at this time, it is to ask of someone whom she trusts, many questions about God and religion, and when she sits under the preaching of God’s Word she feels a strong impulse to give her life to Him. This will appear to her to be her duty. She will feel a shame and remorse for the wrong she had done, and sorrow that she has not been a better girl. Compared with the new life she beholds in Christ and His love, she sees herself a sinner, lost, and without home of Heaven. And when opportunity is given, she comes to God with her dear young life. With many girls this first impulse to divine service is dulled, and she slips back into her old ways; but it is her privilege to go right on in the service of God, learning more and more of Him every day.
This awakening of the heart to its sins and the need of the forgiveness of God is called conviction. That causing conviction which whispers to the soul, pointing out its needs, is the voice of the Spirit of God, and she who hardens her heart and will not listen is shutting her door to Christ. He will come again and again, knocking louder and louder as her need is more clearly understood. But if she continues to reject the wooing of the Spirit, He will go away, leaving her heart harder than before.
When conviction is yielded to it brings the girl to repentance. Anyone is sorry for wrongdoing when caught or about to be punished, but the sorrow that brings repentance comes because God has been grieved. And true repentance will make a person quit his evil ways and make right his wrongs so far as he is able. When a girl has wronged someone, or been deceitful or dishonest in anything, repentance will bring this all to her mind and make her willing to ask forgiveness. And repentance will also make her willing to forgive others as she wants to be forgiven. When she has done all that she can do in forsaking her sins, and calls earnestly on God, she shall be forgiven, the Bible tells us. She will know in her own heart that she is forgiven. The Spirit, who so faithfully warned her of her sins and God’s disapproval, now whispers to her heart that she is forgiven and is an adopted child into the family of God. The burden of sin and guilt will go away, and in its place will come a feeling of peace and quietness. From this time on our girl should seek to do those things that are pleasing to God. She will find it easier to do right, and will find a joy in the service of God she never knew before.
This experience we have just been describing is in the Bible called “conversion,” and being “born again.” To be converted means to be changed from one thing to another. The converted man is changed from a sinner to a Christian, from being guilty to being innocent, from the wrong path to the right one. To be born again means to become a partaker of a new life. The one who is born again begins a new life in Christ. This experience is for every seeking heart.
Jesus said, “Ye must be born again.” Every person who fails to come to Christ repenting and seeking forgiveness, will at last fail to have a home in Heaven. There is no way into the favor of God and the path that leads from earth to Heaven, but the way of the cross.
The Christian life is the only perfect life, and that can be attained only by coming to Christ, forsaking the things of this world, which are contrary to His will, and following Him all the way. Beautiful girlhood must make room for Christ and the precious Word of God. There is beauty untold in God’s service.