Revive Our Hearts Podcast

One of Us Is Gonna Die

Leslie Basham: Marcia Arnel suffered years of abuse. While in high school, she decided to abandon God and take things into her own hands. Here's Marcia.

Marcia Arnel: It was finally in my sophomore year that my dad went to raise his hand at me. I had determined already that something was going to happen between the two of us. As my dad raised his hand, I looked him straight in his face and I said, "Dad, if you ever hit me again, one of us is going to die."

Leslie Basham: It's Thursday, January 29; and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Let's join Nancy as she introduces our guest.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We've been listening this week to a very painful and true story of the testimony of my friend, Marcia Arnel. She has been sharing with us something about the abusive background that she grew up in--the domestic violence, the drug and alcohol abuse that her dad was involved in. Now as she is getting into high school, she finds herself living out the immorality--making her own choices in some of these areas that she had been exposed to as a child.

As I hear some of these details, part of me says, "Why share all this? Is there any purpose or value in bringing these things to the surface?" Let me just say, first, that, Marcia, one of the reasons I appreciate your willingness to tell it and your openness and honesty is that there are so many Marcias out there today. There are some of them listening to us right now.

But I want to also say that this is a story that, as our listeners are going to hear, has grace and light and hope. We're going to get to that. But just to fill out a little bit more of where you were as a high school student, the time came when your parents did get divorced. How did that come about?

Marcia Arnel: It started about my sophomore year of high school, when I realized that the life I was in was not normal. I began to meet people in high school who had clean homes and parents that actually got along. I began to question what was going on at my house.

At that point, I realized my dad was choosing to be a drug addict and choosing to be angry and violent. I began to resent my father at that time. If you recall, he has multiple sclerosis. As the years went on, Dad was getting weaker and weaker.

It was finally in my sophomore year that my dad went to raise his hand at me. I had determined already something was going to happen between the two of us. As my dad raised his hand, I looked him straight in his face and I said, "Dad, if you ever hit me again, one of us is going to die." I called my mother at that point and said, "Mom, if you ever want a daughter again, you're going to have to get divorced."

I moved in with a friend for about four months, I would say, at which point Mom did file for divorce. I didn't talk to her that whole time, but she finally called and found me and said, "I've gotten a divorce. Will you please come home?" I came back to the house and finished up my senior year, by this point.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And did you feel like things were getting better now that he was out of the home?

Marcia Arnel: In my mind, my whole goal still was to be popular, to be involved. I had my own life going at this point. I could drive. I was a cheerleader and captain of the cheerleading squad and dating the captain of the football team.

My life was just what school was and whatever was going on at school. So I would go to school in the morning, and I wouldn't come home until nine or ten at night. So there really wasn't a family or a life back at my house, as far as I was concerned. My goal was just to make it through high school and get off to college. So that was really my focus.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Were you happy?

Marcia Arnel: Was I happy? Happy is temporary, so I guess in a sense there was definitely no--there was still more to life to me. At this next point, everything is going to be okay. At sixteen when I can drive, everything is going to be okay. Well, it wasn't. At eighteen when I graduated from high school--and that was the next goal in my mind.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So you graduated from high school. You got out of the house. You went to college. Was everything okay?

Marcia Arnel: Everything was not okay. As I said, I had already gone into the lifestyle of immorality, which just increased as I went to college. I began trying to find what it was that would make life okay. At that point, I chose to begin to get involved in drinking and maybe even smoking marijuana very rarely. But my freshman year of college--I was breaking policy even to the point of getting expelled from school.

I went back home to live with my mom, at which point she had moved in with her boyfriend. So I basically had a house to myself, and I would have parties there every weekend.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So you had watched your dad ruin his life with drugs and alcohol, and now you're really heading down the same pathway. Did it occur to you that your life might be taking the same direction as his?

Marcia Arnel: I remember being scared of that and thinking things were getting out of control. But when I went to college--where my brother went to college--and my brother at that point had never drunk or anything either. I remember going to a party and seeing him drinking, and I thought, Well, it must be okay to do. That was where I entered that--in my mind--making it okay in my mind to do, Maybe this is the way it needed to be.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You've shared that at one point you saw your life going downhill, and you started to get scared. What made you have that turn of thinking?

Marcia Arnel: I remember a couple of nights just having people in my home--at the house I was"¦after a night of partying, just people getting sick and losing all train of thought and not really being there and passing out and just seeing all of that chaos and stuff around me. I was wondering, Am I going to be the next person to pass out? Am I going to be the next one to do this or that? Those kinds of thoughts started coming into my head.

At that point, I was leaving to go into the army in January, so that was my next goal in my mind. Well, when I get to the army, everything is going to be okay. So I had already determined that I was only going to party for this little season. When I got into the army, that would change.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Did you go into the army?

Marcia Arnel: Actually, I went to ship out for basic training and actually got discharged because I had acne pretty bad at that time. They said that I might possibly get a staph infection, and they didn't want to take on that responsibility. So I got discharged from that, three months after getting kicked out of college.

So I went ahead and went back to the school I was originally attending. They let me back in. I went to school there for a couple of years, at which time I got more involved with people that were involved in drugs. I didn't personally partake of it as much, but I was around it a lot.

I went on one spring break, after being back for a while, and did experiment with marijuana again. There must have been something in it, and I remember hallucinating and seeing things. I was scared that I was going to die. I really felt like that was going to be the end of my life.

I called my mom from Georgia and told her, "Mom, I'm seeing things. Something is going on here."

I remember my mom saying, "It's okay, Marcia. This will pass. Go to bed. No big deal." I made a conscious choice at that point to never party again.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Now your life is in a tailspin. It's really going from bad to worse. You're now living out so much of what you've seen lived out in your own early childhood. But God had a plan for your life, and He began to bring His grace and intervention into your life. Some things started to change.

Marcia Arnel: In 1995, I had a girlfriend who was going to church at that time ask me to be in her wedding. She was marrying the pastor's son, so she had asked me if I would come to church just to get to know him and his family. So I went ahead and went to church and thought, Why not? I went ahead and went back to church.

We went to a women's retreat in 1996 after my friend had gotten married. It was during that time that the Lord just brought the truth to my ears like I had never heard it. Especially, I remember them saying that my body was bought at a price and it belonged to the Lord. I was to glorify Him with my life [1 Corinthians 6:20].

As I looked back on my life, I knew that I had made choices that were against my body belonging to Him by neglecting it through the drugs and the alcohol and even the immorality that I was part of. To hear that God wanted to hold me in the palm of His hand and to make me pure and to make me holy and that He loved me--it was the first time I believed that and understood that that was the happiness that I had been looking for for so long.

I wanted that. I wanted to be pure. I wanted to be holy. I wanted to surrender my body and my life to Christ. Whatever I could do to glorify Him became my heart's desire at that point. I received the love that God had for so long been trying to give me. I found a joy that was eternal.


Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And what a powerful illustration of the incredible, redeeming grace of God. We've been listening to Marcia Arnel as she's been telling her story of coming to faith in Jesus Christ.

Now the story is not over. As we'll hear tomorrow, Marcia still had a long way to go in coming to understand what it meant to walk as a child of God. But she has come to the starting place.

I wonder if you've ever come to the starting place? You've received the love of Christ? You've trusted Him to save you from your sin, and you have surrendered your life--your body, every part of you--to Jesus Christ to be the Lord of your life and to allow God to glorify Himself through your life?

Perhaps God has been speaking to your heart as you've been listening to Marcia's story. You're realizing, That's what I need. That's what I want. If that's true of you, I'm going to pray a prayer in just a moment. I want to invite you, whatever you're doing, to just stop. Take this moment to transfer the ownership and the control of your life to Jesus as your Savior and Lord.

If this expresses the desire of your heart, you could pray something like this: "Lord Jesus, I have sinned against You. I realize that I cannot save myself and thank You that You came to this earth to die on the cross for my sin. I realize that You love me, and that You died so that I can be pure and holy.

I receive Christ as my Savior. I trust You to save me. I surrender my life to You. I want my life to glorify You. For the rest of my life, I'm no longer my own. I belong to You. Thank You for coming into my life, for saving me, and for making me God's child."

If , with faith in your heart and a repentant heart toward God, you have expressed that prayer or something like it to the Lord, then you can know that He has promised to save you, to make you His child and to begin the process of transforming your life.

Thank You, Father, for the greatness of Your salvation. Thank You for the transformation that You've made in Marcia's life. Thank You for the truth that sets us free, and for those even this day whom You are setting free as they trust Christ as their Savior and Lord. I pray with thanksgiving in Jesus' name. Amen.

Leslie Basham: If you just prayed with Nancy for the first time, we'd like to help you grow in your faith. We'd like to send you the book Right With God by John Blanchard. It will help you understand what it really means to be in a relationship with Jesus and will help you to know what steps to take after asking Him to forgive your sins. Just call us at 1-800-569-5959 and ask for a copy.

You can also find many resources on our Web site, to help you if you've experienced the kinds of things that Marcia Arnel has been talking about this week. This includes an hour-long video of Nancy's message, Forgiven, Forgiving and Free. If you've experienced terrible hurt, this message will help you learn to find the freedom that comes from forgiveness.

And you can write, especially if you can relate to Marcia's story. We'd like to pray with you, if you'd send us your request.

Today we heard about the forgiveness Marcia received from God, but she still had some forgiveness to offer her abusers. Tomorrow we'll hear about the process of forgiveness and healing Marcia went through. Please be here for Revive Our Hearts.

*"O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go," O Worship The King, Great Hymns of Our Faith, MacArthur, Tada, Wolgemuth and Master's Choral, Crossway Books, 2000.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministry.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.