Taking Radical Steps

I was running late for a doctor’s appointment. Assuming that they’d be fairly on-schedule and that I wouldn’t have to wait long to be called to the back, I decided not to take my Tom Clancy novel with me. It wasn’t long before I realized how big of a mistake that was. As my wait time increase from mildly annoying to completely ridiculous (+1.5 hours), I was forced to resort to digging through the amazing pile of outdated magazines in a fruitless quest for anything of even moderate interest to help alleviate the boredom. Unfortunately, the choices at this particular office were unusually bleak

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.

Gracie Rosenberger Car Wreck
Gracie Rosenberger
Car Wreck

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.

Gracie Rosenberger
Gracie Rosenberger

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)

It was an inspiring story in itself, but one of her quotes is what impacted me the most.  She said,
“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

Marlou Van Rhijn Gold Medal - Women's 200m Paralympics - London
Marlou Van Rhijn
Gold Medal – Women’s 200m
Paralympics – London

13 thoughts on “Taking Radical Steps

  1. A huge truth too often forgotten is that we are new creations, the old man has passed away and behold all things are new! That means in reality, the old things of our old nature are dead. We have no right to breathe them into life and bring them forward into the new. But its hard, and I wonder if that is maybe why so many forget to remember the powerful truths in that verse!

    1. I agree. I think we hang onto the “old things” so much and so hard because they are so familiar to us. “New” is unknown and often scary so we gravitate back to comfortable, even when we know its destructive. It also ends up being a lack of faith, because we don’t believe that God will deliver on His promise to give us only what is good and beneficial. Thanks for these great thoughts, Jeannie!

  2. Karen, I had no idea where you were going with the wait in the doctor’s office, but you turned it into a beautiful lesson for us all – complete with photos. I love the quote too that you put in large letters. That made me really ponder that truth. Blessings, amy

    1. It is definitely a powerful quote that requires personal pondering. Oh, that God would give me the courage to always be willing to take the steps necessary to walk in the freedom that He intends!

  3. I love this and I like how you tied Mark 9 and Hebrews 12. Also, Ms. Rosenberger’s testimony is beautiful and powerful. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Great writing here Karen. Smooth transitions between Scripture and a women who doesn’t become a slave to her handicapped limbs. Sometimes we become SLAVES to our attachments–SIN. We become so attached to a sin of “passion” (2 Peter 2:19) as an example, we might feel crippled to separate ourselves from the sin. It might just PAIN us in getting rid of the prosthetic (the attachment). Attachments of the “artificial” is sometimes more painful than putting up with the original malady. Sorry, just thinking outside of the box.

    1. I agree, Mel. Sin is insidious. It twists us into believing what’s right is really wrong and what’s destructive is healthy. The deeper we plunge into it and the harder we hang on, the less able we are to discern what truth is at all. “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24-25

  5. Another great article. Well written and thought provoking. Looking inward after yesterday’s issue with my husband, this article reminds me that I need to work hard to cast off my jealousy. It seems Satan gets me on the littlest of things to cause me to lose sight of what I have. I know jealousy is not the only thing in my life that needs to be cast away but this morning it is the one that comes to mind when reading this article.

    1. thanks Antoinette! I think we always have to be sensitive to what God brings to our attention and deal with it at that moment. When we have that attitude, He will gently lead us into deeper levels of relationship. appreciate your comments!

  6. Beautiful article Karen! I know there are times when I really need to take a good look at my life and discard what is keeping me from fully experiencing the freedom God promised.

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