An hour had passed, and I’d already flipped through three pre-March Madness issues of Sports Illustrated (where I’d skimmed all the prophetic predictions about games that were now history), and was left with only Field & Stream, American Cheerleader, and WebMD Magazine.
Hoping to find a health related tip or two, I cracked into WedMD and mindlessly turned through the pages until I settled on a piece about a woman named Gracie Rosenberger. Her moving story begins with a horrific accident when she was 17 years old. She fell asleep while driving and crashed her vehicle into a concrete bridge support, crushing her legs and leaving her in a coma for three weeks. Despite almost 200 fractures, the surgeons were able to save her legs, and she was eventually able to walk again, but not without constant pain and difficulty.
As the years passed, more surgeries were necessary, but the doctors were unable to alleviate her suffering nor was she able to regain full use of her legs. Eventually, she made the agonizing decision to have her legs amputated. Instead of allowing her disability to sideline her permanently, she turned the loss of her legs into an opportunity to encourage and educate veterans and injured civilians from war-ravaged countries that a full and happy life was still possible for them because of the amazing advances in modern prosthetics. (www.standingwithhope.com)
“Some things in our lives become so badly damaged, it cripples us to keep them.”
I’m sure Ms. Rosenberger was speaking in a more physical sense, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how true that is for believers, both spiritually and emotionally.
If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. (Mark 9:43, 45)
Jesus’ extreme teaching in this passage must have been confusing and more than a little troubling to His disciples. Obviously, He wasn’t (and isn’t) literally commanding His followers to amputate perfectly healthy limbs here, but I believe He is instructing us to be radical in how we deal with personal sin. Sometimes we allow (or invite) things into our lives (relationships, material possessions, coping mechanisms) that seem as critically necessary to us as a hand or foot, but deep down, we know they are contrary to a life of faith. By rejecting the clear admonitions of scripture, we continue to rationalize our dependence on these external supports, believing that we’ll be crippled without them.
But it’s in this sense that Ms. Rosenberger’s quote takes on a powerful spiritual application! Our determination to hold onto sin is what most often disables us from living in true freedom. It’s only after we resolutely decide to severe the things which hold us back from walking closely with God that we can even begin to see the potential for unimpaired fullness that He intends for His children.
Christ is calling you to look at your life carefully. Whatever leads you away from Him needs to be amputated. Though, at first, it may seem a like loss too great to bear, trust God’s promise that you will be freer and stronger without it. Once you take that radical step, you’ll discover that then you can begin to really run!
Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. ~ Hebrews 12:1-2