David Parnell: Facing His Dragons
By Randy Rudder
The 700 Club
“He had asked me to lay down with him in the bed and he reached over and grabbed the gun and put it on his stomach,” Amy Parnell said. “And he kicked the safety off and when I realized what he was doing, I tried to grab the gun. I remember the blast and I remember feeling air rush towards me.”
“The bullet went in me right here and came out between my eyes, breaking every bone in my face, blowing my nose off and all my front teeth out,” David Parnell said.
David never expected to live after he shot himself with his assault rifle. Drugs had destroyed his marriage and his life.
“I just thought, ‘man that’s it. I’m going to blow my head off. This dope has robbed me of everything,’” he said.
David grew up with his mother and grandparents in Tennessee. One summer, while visiting his father in Mississippi, he learned a lesson he would never forget. He was just 13.
“Dad was smoking marijuana pretty regular,” David said. “He played music in a honky-tonk bar. He taught me how to smoke it, educated me on how to hold the smoke in my lungs for it to be effective and make you high. And that was really a turning point in my life, I believe.”
As he grew older, he began using cocaine and speed. Then he discovered methamphetamine.
“The first time I tried it, I knew that was going to be my drug of choice,” David said.
After one failed marriage, he married Amy. As their family grew, she tried to get him to give up the drugs. But things just got worse. As his meth use increased, so did the side effects. First, there were the hallucinations.
“We normally start out seeing what we call shadow people; it’s just shadows that you see moving around or out of the corner of your eye,” David said.
Then there was the paranoia.
“As the addiction gets worse and worse, you become so paranoid,” he said. “You think you are seeing stuff. You think everybody is out to get you, and you’re hearing noises and voices. I was paranoid of my own wife, my children, my mother.”
David nearly shot his mail carrier, thinking he was an undercover policeman.
“Other times, I would hear footsteps walking upstairs and was convinced that it was the other drug dealers,” he said. “I’d go through my house blowing holes in my ceiling, screaming and hollering and cussing I was going to kill them.”
One day, a “voice” told him to take his life.
“He said, ‘you think Jesus could forgive you for the things you’ve done and the people you’ve hurt?’ David remembered hearing. “And I said, ‘no, I don’t think he will.’ He said, ‘You know, your wife and kids would be better off if you were dead.’”
He grabbed a rope, went to the barn behind his house, and tried to hang himself. But the weight of his body swinging caused the rope to break. His sister found him and revived him.
The experience scared David straight for a few months, but it wasn’t long before he was back to using meth. One evening, Amy had had enough. David came home high. Amy told him she was leaving and taking the kids with her.
David put the gun under his chin and fired. The wounds were so severe that he coded several times in the ambulance on the way to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. During that time, he caught a glimpse of hell.
“It sounded like a million people screaming in agony. I looked up and realized how dark it was,” he said. “It frightened me so bad; I felt like I was going to explode with a bomb.”
David cried out to god. When he did, he saw an image of Jesus.
“I was looking at Him and I felt like a little kid,” David said. “I was just terrified and shaking. And all of a sudden he smiled and all the fear left me.”
While at Vanderbilt, he drifted in and out of consciousness for several days.
“He would write things down on a tablet that we gave him,” Amy said. “He would write things like ‘Jesus loves you all,’ and ‘I’m so sorry,’ and ‘I was bad but now I’ll be good and I want to help other people.’”
David spent several weeks in the hospital. During his recovery, he asked god to forgive him for the pain he caused to his loved ones, and he invited Jesus into his heart. Since then, god has restored David and Amy’s marriage.
“That was a life-changing moment. He has never been the same since,” Amy said. “I don’t even know if you would describe what we had before as a marriage; but now it’s a marriage. It’s a family. It’s two people working together to serve the Lord and raise a family to serve the Lord.”
David believes god spared him so he could warn others about the dangers of meth. Today he speaks to young people at schools and churches around the country.
“This drug brings out the evil in a person,” he said. “For a lot of kids, they think, ‘well, hey, if this guy hadn’t shot himself, he would still be on drugs.’ When the truth is, if I hadn’t accepted Jesus into my heart, I would still be on drugs. It didn’t matter about shooting myself. I could’ve shot myself, went home - as soon as I felt better, I’d have been right back to using; I know that. The only thing I did different this time out of all the other times I tried to quit, was I accepted Jesus in my heart and I asked Him to help me. I didn’t think there was forgiveness for me. And I realize today that there’s always forgiveness.”Can God change your life?
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