Reaching Out

He Cut Off His Arm

On April 26, 2003, during a solo descent of Bluejohn Canyon in southeastern Utah, 27-year-old mountain climber Aron Ralston had an experience that changed his life. He accidentally dislodged an 800-pound boulder, which pinned his right wrist to the side of the canyon wall.

He didn’t tell anyone where he was going, and since his food and water had run out, he was facing certain death. After five days of excruciating pain, he decided to severe part of his arm that was pinned by the boulder. He broke his forearm in order to amputate it with a pocket knife, walked through the rest of the canyon, rappelled down a 65-foot drop, and hiked 7 miles to safety. Ralson lived to tell his story, in his autobiography Between a Rock and a Hard Place<> and the 2010 film 127 Hours<>). Aron Ralston cut off his arm to save his life.

There is an analogy to this in the Bible: “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. Matthew 18:8

I used to think this was just an illustration to impress upon us the importance of not letting anything hinder us in our walk with the Lord. But I believe it is literally true, and that it would be better to experience life maimed, than allow the lust of our eyes, our hands engaging in theft, or our feet taking us to evil cause us to be cast into the Lake of Fire for eternity. (Of course entrance to heaven depends on a repentant heart; we could cut off an arm and still have an unrepentant heart.)

What would be so precious, so infinitely important and extraordinarily valuable that it would be worth cutting off a part of our body to have? It would be spending eternity with the sovereign living God in heaven, a place of immeasurable beauty, joy, and love. So let us go forth and share the good news that eternal life in heaven does not depend on dismemberment, but is available to all who repent and receive Christ as their Savior.

To God be the glory