In June of 1970, I was born into the home of a Christian mother and soon to be Christian father. My first memory was around age 3. There are several things that year that I can recall in a hazy manner. I remember lying to my mother while I stood atop her commode and painted lines on her bathroom wall with black liquid eyeliner. She stood in the doorway and asked me did I paint on her wall. I lied quite blatantly while my tiny hand froze holding the liner in midair. I also remember going to check the mail at our little house in Gainesville, FL that year and jumping over a green grass snake. But a very strong memory was when Mama would pull me in a red wagon to and from my older sister’s elementary school. We were poor as dirt and I remember Mama telling me to pray with her that God would provide us with money for milk and bread. A few minutes later as she pulled my wagon down the sidewalk, we found some money on the ground (I think it was $5) and we were able to buy the milk and bread. That is the VERY first time I considered God.
My mother would read the Bible and share Scripture with my sister and me every day. She was concerned that we should know who Jesus was. Daddy had gotten saved and we began attending church regularly. My older sister, Stephanie, prayed at age 5 and asked Jesus into her heart. Mama was so happy that I decided I needed to do the same thing so she would be happy with me, too. I knelt down by the white popcorn chenille bedspread and prayed a prayer, but I really didn’t know what I was doing, nor did I understand what faith in Christ meant.
For years I always told that story as my “testimony”.
Fast forward to high school in the 80’s. I was a rebellious, mean spirited, angry teenager. I was the daughter of a Christian School Teacher and a Deacon. I went to church every time the doors were open and I sang the hymns in church by heart.
I had messed up thoughts, I felt ugly all the time, and would get into a fight at the drop of a hat. I wanted to be tough and I wanted to prove that no one could defeat me in anything; and if they did, it made me so mad I could have spit nails. I was a terror. I would sneak in my room and turn on angry music real low so my mom could not hear it on the large stereo that was in my bedroom. I would press my ear against the speakers and listen, and think of all the girls and boys who had made me mad that day. I would envision what I would say to them the next day and mentally hurl insults at them. I was just so angry.
My sister was smart, quiet, and beautiful….and we absolutely hated each other. We were daylight and dark. Stephanie was the cheerleader, and I was the tomboy. She wanted little to do with me and I wanted nothing to do with her. I was so jealous of her back then that I would do anything to make her mad. It actually gave me pleasure to see her get upset with me. It was like a mission accomplished. All along though, I knew something was wrong deep down inside of me. I claimed to be a Christian, I even read my Bible from time to time, but I had not come to the point where I was willing to place my faith in anyone, let alone a far-off distant God.
All the ugly things I did, thought, and said made me a miserable young person. I think I would have run away if I had not lived so far from town. I was scared of the dark and too afraid to head out on my own in the woods, so I remained at home under the strict rules of my parents. Yet it was here, where God made Himself known to me by crossing my path with people who loved me. Yes, my parents loved me, my grandma Miller and my Aunt Nita loved me, but they were family, and I did not realize how much they genuinely cared for me. I believe God knew this about how I thought and processed information so He sent a Youth Pastor named Greg Kent and his wife Collene into my life. These two people were instrumental in showing me that I was worth something. They saw past my rough exterior, and even though I cannot remember all the details and moments, they accepted me just like I was. I still tried to make them hate me, but they did not. They just kept spending time with me and loving me. It was the beginning of me formulating an opinion about God as a teenager. I knew He was real, but it was at this stage that I considered for the very first time that maybe God actually loved me - mean, ugly me.
And then God brought a new family to our church. The husband and wife were both basketball coaches and I was on the girl's team. I was actually a terrible basketball player by any standards, but I was fast, and I could steal a ball, and get down a court and pass it to someone who could shoot. No matter how often I practiced layups, I could not make them to save my life. Oh sure, I would score, and one time I made one of those last second shots to win a game, but I knew I was not the best player. My poor shooting ability did not stop me from acting like I was Larry Bird though! I was such a jerk in those days. Well, my coach, the new lady in church, Mrs. Lillian Sivley, was not scared of me. She saw something in me and worked with me to become, not just a better player, but a better person - and I noticed it. I would push her buttons, but she would never push me away. She, like the Kents, accepted me just like I was.
One day while sitting in Coach Sivley’s office upstairs in the gymnasium of Ocala Christian Academy, I was lacing up my Converse high tops and listening to her drone on about teamwork etc. Then she shifted gears and said she wanted to share something with us. I pretended to be uninterested as I slouched in my little corner in the back, but I listened. She began telling how she had lived a long time thinking she knew the Lord, but one day she realized she was not saved. Now, the term "saved" made sense to me because I had grown up in church and I knew all the lingo, but that day when Mrs. Sivley used it in her speech, I began thinking about when I was 3 and had “gotten saved”. Everything else she said blurred out as I began to wonder if I really even knew God.
For the next several days I was tormented in my mind. I know now, after years of studying God’s Word, that the Holy Spirit was convicting me and drawing me to Him. The following Sunday I got dressed for church. We drove towards Ocala to Central Baptist Church where we had been members since I was 12. I tried to behave in Sunday School and in the morning service, but the whole time I sat through the messages, all I could wonder about was if God would save me. I wondered if it would embarrass my parents if I went to the altar. I wondered what the boy I liked would think if he saw me walk the aisle. I wondered what my friends would think of me and if they thought I was going to turn into a "goodie-goodie two shoes". I worried if my dress would ride up, if I would fall, etc. So, when the invitation hymn, “Just As I Am” began to play, I gripped the wooden pew in front of me and I froze to my spot.
I went home that afternoon in November of 1985, and I considered God as I sat in my room. For the first time I thought about all that I had heard about God from the perspective of someone wanting to know Him. I didn’t "need God as a crutch,” I was tough enough to survive on my own. I didn’t feel pressured from family. No one had “shoved religion down my throat,” as some are quick to say; but for the very first time as a human being, I considered if I needed God.
I spent the entire afternoon thinking about what it would mean if I “got saved.” I knew that being “saved” meant that one would realize they were a sinner and destitute without God. I knew that Heaven was only attainable by placing my faith in what Christ did on Calvary and being raised from the dead. I knew these things because I had read about them in the Bible, but I considered it all that day and wondered if it were all true. Could a person actually just place their faith in Jesus and be forgiven of their sins? Did I truly need that forgiveness in order to live a successful life as a human being? As I pondered all of these questions, I kept coming back to the fact that I wanted to know God on my own. I didn't want to know God because of what my parents had said, or what the preacher had said, but because I wanted to know and understand God on my own. This was the way I had always done everything - by myself.
That Sunday evening I got ready for church, ran outside, and sat in the back seat of my parents' car. I knew I was going to make a decision one way or another. I was either going to reject Christ that night or I was going to put my faith in Christ as my Savior, which is something that makes absolutely no sense to anyone who does not know Him. The church service ran like any other. There were announcements, 3 hymns and a special. Then the preacher stood and began preaching. I honestly do not know what he said that night. I do not remember any of it. All I remember was sitting on the left side of the pulpit in the pew where our family always sat, and I waited for the invitation.
I know now that I didn’t have to wait to make this decision, but I thought that was the proper way to care for such matters in my young mind. As soon as the Preacher ended his message and asked us to stand, I bolted. I went down that aisle as fast as my feet could take me. I didn’t care what anyone thought, I didn’t worry about my dress or falling, I just went to the altar. I bent down and I began talking to God on my own for the very first time. I told Him I knew I was sinner and He knew I was a sinner and I was sorry for all that I was and had done. My mind quickly ran through so many things I had done in my life up to that point. I told God I believed what His Word said was true. I believed that Jesus had died on the cross and shed His blood for me. I believed God raised Him from the dead and that He was the only way I could have peace. It was in those moments that I decided to place my faith, whether I understood it all or not, IN CHRIST and Christ alone. I knew for a fact during my prayer that Jesus had heard me and saved me. I had accepted Him, by faith, as my own personal Savior.
As I finished my prayer, I noticed my mom, as well as my coach had come and knelt on either side of me. I told them through tears what I had just prayed, and they hugged me. Those were the very first moments of my new life in Christ and they were spent in complete freedom from all the weight I had felt in the days and years leading up to it. I was finally saved. God was writing my name in the Book of Life and angels were rejoicing because a lost sinner had come home.
Why have I taken the time to write out my story you may ask? Is it to brag that I have a wonderful life? No. Matter of fact, from the time I placed my faith in Christ instead of myself, I have had some pretty rotten moments. I have also had some pretty great ones. That is just life. The difference now is that I firmly believe in God and have had His guidance and help through it all.
Is He an emotional crutch? Absolutely not. He is Almighty God. He loves mankind and wants everyone to know Him and spend eternity with Him. We are ALL of us going to spend eternity somewhere. We will not just become worm food in the ground. Either we will reject Christ and spend eternity in Hell, tormented forever because of our faith in ourselves, or we will decide to place our faith in Jesus Christ and spend eternity with Him.
Science always tries to explain away faith, but the fact is, it cannot explain it. But God is real. Jesus is real. History proves He walked on this earth. The Bible proves why. I found peace with God on the day I decided to accept His Truth. I want everyone I meet to have that peace as well. I have dedicated my adult life to sharing Christ with others in several countries. I live in Brazil, thousands of miles from family and friends so that I can share Christ with others. That is how much I believe that God wants to save anyone who would place their faith in Him.
The Bible (God’s Word) says, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17
So in the end, what we listen to and choose to believe matters because it will determine what we place our faith in to live and die by in this life. We can listen and believe:
1. Philosophy (the use of reason in understanding such things as the nature of the real world and existence, the use and limits of knowledge, and the principles of moral judgment)
2. Science (knowledge from the careful study of the structure and behavior of the physical world, especially by watching, measuring, and doing experiments, and the development of theories to describe the results of these activities)
3. Psychology (the scientific study of the way the human mind works and how it influences behavior, or the influence of a particular person's character on their behavior)
We can hear God’s Word, Believe it to be the Truth and let it effectually work in us.
Each one of us has a decision to make because we are choosing to place our faith in SOMETHING.
I choose to believe God. It is as simple as that. I have studied the other things I mentioned. I have thought on it all over the years as I have sought to make sense of life at certain hard moments. But you cannot talk me out of believing in God. After all, He created the ones who developed all the afore mentioned ideas, so I would rather go to the Main Source when it comes to what happens to my spirit and soul after my physical death.
Because faith comes from hearing, I am going to type out Scripture from which I have my faith:
Titus 1:2 “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;”
So if God cannot lie….then I am going to believe what His Word says.
Matthew 4:4 “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
1. He is the Creator of Earth, Man, and Woman
Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
Genesis 1:27 – “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
2. Man sinned. We ALL have sinned.
Romans 5:12 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”
Romans 3:10 “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:”
Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
3. Sin carries a penalty. That penalty is death.
Romans 5:12 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death;”
4. God loves sinners. God loves the entire world. God IS Love.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
1 John 4:16 “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”
5. Because God loves sinners He made a way for us to have peace with Him THROUGH JESUS CHRIST.
2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
1 Peter 2:24 “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”
Isaiah 53:5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
Ephesians 1:7 “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;”
Colossians 1:14 “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”
1 John 5:11 “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”
6. God says that if we want to be forgiven and reconciled with Him, we need to repent and believe on Him. Repent means to change our mind and agree with God, acknowledging that we are sinners and God did raise Christ from the dead.
Acts 17:30-31 “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”
2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Romans 4:24-25 “But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
God tells us plainly how to be saved; saved from eternal damnation and separation from Him in eternity.
John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”
Romans 10:9-13 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
I’ve shared these Scriptures in the hopes that it will either strengthen the faith you have already placed in Christ, or show you plainly how much God loves you and wants you to believe in Him.
Mark 8:36 “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
You can follow teaching of fallible men and women, study all the religions of the world, research all there is to know about the human brain and why it functions the way it does, but without God, you will never find true peace.
The Bible tells us we CAN KNOW that we have eternal life.
1 John 5:13 “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
When I was that mean girl who was angry at the world back in the 80’s, I didn’t understand what faith was or what would happen in the moment I decided to believe on Him as my own personal Savior, but I trusted Him. I trusted God with my soul and my eternity. He didn’t leave me there without a response! Nope! He kept His promise as I reached out blindly towards the reality of Who He was, Who He is, and Who He continues to be and He saved me. It wasn’t an emotional response, it was a blind leap of faith.
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Jesus came to earth for us all. He came for you. Won’t you decide today what you want to put your faith in for eternity? You don’t have to wait. If you want to be saved, it is as easy as calling on Jesus to do so.
Call me, message me, or email me if you need help or want to ask questions.
Jesus wants you. Do you want Him?
This is me.
This is my testimony.
I hope it has helped you in some way today. I love you.
Who am I?
I'm Sheri Edwards.