“For Ten Years I Played a Game” ::: Shannon’s Story

shannon sargent

I was born into a good family…

…my dad was a Naval officer and my mom was a stay-at-home mom.  While both my parents taught me good manners, a good work ethic, and respect for others, it was solely my mom who faithfully took me to church.  While at church I learned who Jesus Christ was.  I knew He was the Son of God and that He died on the cross for all of mankind.  I knew that calling on Jesus to save me would keep me from spending eternity in hell (Romans 10:13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”), so at the age of sixteen I did just that—I called on Jesus to save me from hell.

Less than a year later, I began to have serious doubts about my salvation.

The peace that passeth all understanding eluded me and I was terrified, so I did the only thing I knew to do:  I began to pray.  In my prayer I asked the Lord to show me verses of comfort from the Bible if I was saved and verses of conviction if I was lost, and then I faithfully read His Word each day.

shannon 2Very shortly after praying, the Lord showed me Luke 13:3, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”  Within a few months I came across Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent…every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission (forgiveness) of sins….”  Very clearly the Lord showed me I had missed the key ingredient of “repentance” in my life – Repentance is simply a change of mind that leads to a change of actions.  In other words, it’s a conviction that your ways are wrong and God’s ways are right, coupled with a desire to follow after God’s ways.

I had believed that Jesus died for me – Romans 10:9 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.” – and called on His name, asking for salvation (Romans 10:13), but an essential key of salvation was not there.

Instead of following such clear guidance from the Scriptures and settling the matter of my eternity, I began instead to try and convince the Lord—the Author of salvation—that I was saved.  I even used scripture to prove my point whenever the thought of salvation popped into my mind!  Then, because of the conviction I felt, I would promptly try to dismiss any thought of my salvation altogether.

For ten years I played that game.

Meanwhile, I sang in our church choir, worked with the youth group, taught a Sunday school class, helped in the nursery, gave money to the church, prayed and read my Bible daily—but I was as lost as could be and I knew it.

Whenever I shared my salvation testimony with others, I use the following story to illustrate my life-situation:  Imagine that I took a black Sharpe marker and scribbled all over a nearby wall.  After a very satisfying few minutes of fun, reality begins to sink in as I realized that the owner of the wall would be none-too-pleased once they realized what I’d done.  In an attempt to cover my impulsive acts, I paint the wall and restored it to its original appearance.  Most people who would pass by that wall would think, “that’s a pretty nice looking wall!”… but I  would know there were a myriad of black marks hidden beneath the glossy coat. 

And that was my life for 10 years.  I had “painted” my life over with good works so that the shannon 3average person who looked at me would think, “She’s a wonderful Christian!”

But I Samuel 16:7b gives the chilling reminder that, “…man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”  God was not fooled by my good works; he saw only the black sin-stain that those good works were trying to hide.  He saw my lies, my idolatry, my pride, my covetousness, my rebellion against aspects of His Word.  Just as a person needs the right element to remove that Sharpe marker from the wall (soap and water won’t work!), they also need the right element to remove their sin-stain, too.

Baptism, church attendance, good works…none of these remove the stain of sin from a person’s heart; it’s through the washing of the precious blood of Christ alone that will do the greatest – and most important – stain-removal known to mankind.

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, – Revelation 1:5

And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. – Hebrews 9:22

During church on September 21st, 2003, the pastor used Acts 2:38 as a scripture reference for his lesson—the same scripture that the Lord had already used to speak to my heart multiple times.

Something inside me broke.

I was tired of struggling with my salvation.

I was tired of trying to convince myself that I was saved.

I was tired of losing sleep as I tried yet again not to think of where I’d end up if something took my life the next day.

I was tired of wondering what people would think of me—a person so active in her church who still needed salvation.

At that moment, I didn’t care what people thought. I stood as a sinner—humbled and broken before a holy and righteous God.  Instead of simply asking Jesus to save me from hell, I finally acknowledged that my ways were sinful and His way is right.

I asked Christ to cover my sins with His blood and invited Him into my life to be my Savior.

Instead of picking and choosing which of God’s steps of salvation I wanted to follow, I applied them all to my life.  And from that point on, I possess (current tense…even 11-1/2 years later!) the peace which passeth all understanding that I so desperately sought after.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7

My prayer for you is that my testimony—coupled with scripture from God’s Holy Word—will cause you to reflect on your own salvation testimony and help you become excited once again about what the Lord did for you on that most precious day!

OR…if you doubt your salvation, my prayer is that you’ll turn to the Lord and His Word for guidance. The Lord promises to reward them who diligently seek the Truth (Hebrews 11:6).  I honestly believe there are many people who are faithful church-goers, but are still spiritually lost.

My heart’s desire for you is twofold: shannon 1

1) That you would remember that good works cannot get a person into heaven. We can fool others with our outward actions, but God cannot be deceived.

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us… – Titus 3:5

2) That you would understand fully that God’s plan of salvation is not a recipe with suggested ingredients from which to pick and choose and apply at various times throughout your life. Salvation requires a simultaneous application of all of the elements He reveals through His Word.  It is purely based on repentance of your sin, faith that Christ took sin’s penalty on Himself, and asking to personally receive that precious gift.

Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Acts 20:21

His part on the cross is finished, His gift of eternal life is offered to anyone who would accept it.  All that is left for you to do is accept this precious gift as your own!

shannon smallShannon lives in Lubbock, Texas with her husband, Jeremiah and daughter, Danielle. One of her main passions is teaching! She enjoys doing disciplining lessons with ladies, homeschooling her daughter and visiting with elderly people and shut-ins. Shannon loves her God-given role as Pastor’s wife to the dear folks in her church at Tabernacle Baptist Church.


Got a Story? Got Questions?

If you have any spiritual questions and need some answers, please email us – we’d love to help you! OR If Christ has changed your life as He did Shannon’s, please share it with us! You can email your story to graceandhonor@gmail.com


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