My name is Sheila and I was born a sinner. I grew up in the Baptist faith and attended church sporadically. I was in assorted churches, but from 1970 on, I knew the truth about salvation, Heaven & Hell. My folks and I attended a true Scriptural church for a few years, but then we left that church and I grew up a rebellious teenager. I ran with a rough crowd – smoking, drinking, and drugs.
I was a very unhappy teenager. I had no fear. I also trusted everyone. I was easily led astray. I ran away often. I had a child and married young. I went back to church and made a profession of salvation, but nothing in my life changed except I went to church. There had been no repentance. I went back to my sinful life and left the church again.
I was afraid the Lord would come back and I would be left behind. I remember looking in my baby’s cradle to make sure I was still safe. I also knew I was all right for a while because all of the prophecies in the Bible had not come to pass yet. I was still terrified.
After being in a bad marriage for 7 years, I divorced. I now had 4 children and I still did my own thing at the expense of my children. I got into a legal situation, was arrested, and went to jail for a time. That experience left me with felonies on my record that affected the rest of my life.
I married again, but still lived a sinful life at my family’s expense. Occasionally I would go to church to appease my mom and the Holy Spirit would convict me, but I would try to push it out of my mind. I didn’t want to face the reality of going to Hell if I continued to ignore God’s calling. I made so many excuses to myself: What will people think? I’ll have to give up so many things!
Soon I realized that all of the prophecies had come to pass and I was running out of time. I had wasted more than 40 years and destroyed my relationship with my kids. I had nothing but regrets as I sat by watching them following what they had seen me do for so many years. It was agony. It will always haunt me. I found myself paying attention to sermons on the radio that I used to turn off so I wouldn’t have to think about them. I would sit in my car after reaching my destination just so I could hear the end.
One Sunday morning, I was walking on a treadmill and it was as if a light bulb went off in my mind. I recognized God’s calling. This time I knew that if I didn’t answer, it may be too late. This maybe was my last chance before the Lord either hardened my heart or Jesus came to take the saints home and I would not be going with them. (Mark 13:29-37) I immediately left the gym and told my husband I needed to go to church right then. I went back to the same church I had learned the truth in 37 years prior.
The pastor’s wife was there where she had been all along, patiently waiting for me to come back. She was one of many people who’d been praying for me. I was finally desperately seeking God, but still not quite getting it. One morning, I was driving on a back road to go see my daddy who was in the hospital. I was completely broken, crying on the phone with my pastor. He said, “Sheila, you know what to do.” And I did. I knew salvation was a gift, free for the asking. All I needed was faith to believe Jesus loved me and that He died for me. As I pulled into the hospital parking lot on March 26, 2008, at 10:30 AM, I confessed my sin and thanked Christ for dying in my place. My heart was filled with joy and song with that salvation. Today I am still a sinner, but now I am a sinner, saved by grace.