I remember when it happened.
I was working at Focus when I read the news article about the young man who went hiking in the Utah canyons—he was an adventurous guy who went off to play and explore. As he climbed over one rock, it slipped beneath the weight of him. Both he and the rock tumbled and when the dust settled, he couldn’t move. His hand was wedged between the heavy rock and the canyon wall. After six days, his only option was to cut off his arm to escape to freedom. I remember reading his story with a mingled sense of horror and awe.
A few weeks ago, we watched a documentary of his painful journey.
On Friday night, we watched the movie.
I went to sleep that night with Aron’s story on my brain. And I woke up rather philosophical. That happens sometimes. Some days I wake up hungry with a need to go potty. Other times I wake up with profound thoughts on the brain.
You never can tell with me.
So I woke up thinking about the rocks in my own journey. As a young woman I was a lot like Aron. I went out to play and explore in life. I journeyed into canyons and clambered over rocks that seemed so cool. And then I tumbled. The very rock I played on became my trap.
I was thinking on that as I got up. I grabbed my cup of coffee and sat in the living room. I had my quiet time. I read about a man who came to Jesus to ask what He needed to do to inherit eternal life. He gave Jesus the list of the commandments he followed. Jesus looked at him and loved him… (I love that. It says, “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”) And then Jesus asked him to sell all of his possessions and give them to the poor. Jesus knew this guy was held captive by something, and He wanted to set him free.
The man walked away, sad.
He was trapped.
A little later that morning, Brian read through some sports news—as is our Saturday morning custom, he read a few stories out loud to me. One story was about a former football star who became a gambling addict. This broken adult, once a young superstar, had been arrested for scamming people out of millions of dollars. As a young man, he had all the potential in the world, but he’d given in to his addiction. His playful pursuit became a heavy rock that pinned him and drained the life away.
He was trapped.
I’m not always the sharpest needle in the pincushion, but I didn’t want to miss what God might be telling me. What broken piece of my life continues to trap me? The danger with Aron was that the huge rock had cut off all circulation to his hand. His hand was dead and that death was creeping into the rest of his body. Now Aron could have given up and let that happen. Like the rich man in Scripture and the gambling guy in the paper, he could have wrestled for a bit and then given up, “I guess this is just my fate. I can’t break free.”
He could have let death seep into the rest of his body…
But he didn’t. He cut off his own arm to know freedom.
I suppose for the rich man and the gambler, it would have felt like they were cutting off a piece of themselves to break free. I’ve felt that. I’ve had different rocks in my life, habits I didn’t think I could change: Smoking, a longing for romance, food… The list goes on. Habits that felt so much a part of me that it felt like I was cutting off my own arm to let them go.
For Aron, cutting free from that rock was excruciatingly painful.
But it was possible.
And ah, the freedom! The freedom of walking the other way, climbing to safety and leaving that rock back in the dust. And then after he did the hard work of walking away, the helicopter swept in and rescued Aron. He was tended to and cared for – his wounds healed. Yes, he wears the scars, but he is free.
Talk about joy. Talk about dimpled abandon!
In one scene, when Aron was still trapped, he had a vision of a little boy he knew was the son he would one day have. That vision strengthened him to tear free from all that bound him.
What vision has God planted in your heart? In my heart? That we would go through the painful process of breaking free from the things we’ve come to accept as unchangeable?
Oh friends, I want to take this to heart. Will you join me? Lets not get trapped by anything but the love of God. Lets not get lost in riches, addictions, poor self image or any other familiar habit that has weighed us down for years, slowly sucking the life from our spiritual bodies.
Will you join me today in asking God what our rock might be? And asking him for strength to tear free and run for his care and mercy?
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23,24).