It was during my last year of college when Ashley Scanlon-Smith passed away. Ashley was one of our amazing and highly involved teens at youth group. It was November 14, 2008. I was studying for one of my classes at the student lounge when I got the call from the Youth Minister saying, “Ashley passed away this morning, and we are having a prayer service for her tonight. Will you be able to make it?” I was in complete and utter shock. “But she was only 17?!” I thought to myself. The whole day, all I could think about was how young she was when she was taken. “Seventeen…only seventeen…”, I kept poring over in my mind. In Matthew 24:44, Jesus urges us to “…be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Ashley Scanlon-Smith’s death was completely unexpected, and to this day, the cause of her death is unknown. Was she ready to go? Was she ready to die? Did she have any regrets? Was she prepared to meet God face to face?
In the eyes of her family, friends and those who were blessed to know her, there is no doubt that she was ready. Ashley Scanlon-Smith truly embodied the love of Christ in her thoughts, words, and actions. Her bible revealed beautiful prayers she has written, verses she had highlighted, and worn out pages from heavy use. Her father shared a story of how she was moved to tears when she saw rows of empty chairs at Adoration. She loved God so deeply and could not understand why the chapel was not filled with people adoring and praising Him. One of my favorite prayers she had written to God revealed the depth of her loving relationship with Him: “You are the reason, I am who I am. Who I am is a gift from you and who I become is my own gift back to you. I will live for you. I will fulfill your will. I will live in you as you continue to always live in me. You are my every breath. Amen.”
The Son of Man will come at an hour we do not expect. Ashley Scanlon-Smith was ready. Are you? How is God calling you to prepare your heart and life for His coming this Advent season?
May we prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ, and may our love for Him be reflected through our thoughts, words and actions this Advent season!
To listen to the song “Ashley’s Prayer,” click on the following link: