- Matters of the Heart -
Is there a depth of darkness from which even Jesus’ arms can’t rescue someone?
What if a child, age 13, gives away her virginity and becomes pregnant at the same time? What if at the same age she begins using intravenous drugs, becomes a junkie, an alcoholic, and an addict? Can Jesus’ arms still reach? What if as she grows up she runs the roads, sings and entertains in bars? What if she sleeps with more men than she can remember, or sleeps with women, or sleeps with multiple people at once? What if, as a result of her lifestyle she becomes, at least in the eyes of Christians, a murderer, using multiple abortions as birth control; can God still reach her?
Meet Carol Odenwald, the woman who lived that nightmare. At the age of five, Carol suffered a traumatic wound when her father, a Southern Baptist preacher, committed suicide. The event left Carol scarred.
Carol stated, “I closed off my heart toward God.”
Carol describes the image behind which she hid, during her adolescence and early adulthood, as being a self-created facade. Struggling with feelings of rejection, Carol began to build her party-girl image, doing anything to be accepted.
Carol says of her thin disguise, “I learned to smoke, drink and do all of those kinds of things. And the kicker is, I did them all as a Christian.”
Carol remembers accepting the Lord at the age of eight.
“I know I would have gone to heaven had I died in my sin, but I didn’t know there was relationship to be had. I had no idea about intimacy. I had no idea you could have anything more than turn or burn,” she said.
In January of 1997 Carol experienced a life-changing moment of clarity. As she stared at herself in the mirror, she came face-to-face with the devil. In that moment she saw clearly what she had become, and that her lifestyle was killing her.
Carol chose to stop running from God, and rededicated her life to Him. She returned to church and turned her musical talents toward worshiping the Lord. She joined the band at her new church, and within a year became the worship leader. She continued to find favor within the church and was ordained as a minister. It was also during this time that Carol met the man she would later marry.
In 2003 Carol and her husband came across Andrew’s Gospel Truth program on television. His teaching on The True Nature of God caught their attention and they began to tune in regularly. After six months of watching, Carol heard the Lord say, “I want you to go to Bible College.” Carol responded to God’s outstretched hand, and in 2004 she and her husband enrolled in Charis Bible College, Colorado (CBC).
Carol enjoyed her experience, and after completion of the three-year program she became part of the CBC staff and Andrew’s ministry. Her new life in the Lord was moving forward. However, in August 2007, the walls of Carol’s world came crashing down again when she received unsavory news about her husband: He had been involved in child abuse.
Carol’s marriage soon ended in divorce. Once again the enemy had come to steal from Carol, only this time a supernatural work was birthed in Carol’s broken heart. Instead of running from God, she ran to Him. Carol sat at Jesus’ feet and examined the ruins of her life. Through a process of prayer and evaluation, she realized she had still been sitting behind a wall of religion. Finally at the end of herself, she fully surrendered her heart, and God began to minister His love to her in amazing ways. The promises of Jesus became a reality to her, and true healing and freedom began to manifest in her life.
Through Carol’s personal “face time” with Jesus, she established the kind of relationship that she hadn’t known was possible just a short time ago. The freedom she found in Christ burns inside her and shines brightly today as she ministers through speaking, teaching and worshipful music.
Carol’s story is one of encouragement for anyone who thinks they have sunk to a place beyond rescue—No one is beyond Jesus’ reach.