On April 26, 2003, Aron Ralston – an experienced hiker – was climbing alone in Horseshoe Canyon, Utah. As he descended a slot canyon a 360kg boulder dislodged, crushing and pinning his right arm against the canyon wall.
Ralston was trapped for five days – rationing his food and water, drinking his own urine, and eventually slipping in and out of consciousness and delirium. On May 1, he infamously amputated his own arm (you might want to read that back again to get the full gravitas)!! He cut his own arm off! He fashioned a tourniquet, broke the ulna and radius bones and then sawed through his skin, veins and nerves with a largely blunt knife (I hope you read that quickly because – ew!).
Once free, he had to rappel down a 20m wall (one handed) and hike the 13km to his vehicle. He met a group of hikers on the path who gave him food and drink and alerted authorities (who had commenced searching after Ralston’s family reported him missing). He had lost 25% of his blood volume and 18kg of overall weight.
It is an amazing, barely believable story. The lengths he went to in order to be free. It causes us all to wonder what we would do in a similar situation. The extremity of his circumstances clearly propelled him to act beyond what a person would otherwise even consider let alone be capable of.
Ralston was determined to free himself from the rock because he knew his prospects there were slim and getting slimmer. He knew that so long as he remained pinned to that rock the likelihood of dying in that place would increase. He determined to be free – at the cost of his arm and unimaginable pain and discomfort. So much so that he reported he was “looking forward to the amputation and the freedom it would give.”
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”
– Galatians 5:1
Paul reminds us that the price for our freedom has been paid by Jesus on the cross so we can LIVE free. The eternal consequence of our sin has been sorted, we’re restored to relationship with Father God, life to the fullest is on offer – freedom.
But do you ever feel stuck? Trapped? Ever feel weighed down? Or burdened? Ever feel bound to a habit or caught in an unhealthy relationship? Ever feel pinned down by guilt or shame? Ever overwhelmed with regret or entangled by sin?
That is not the language of freedom! Those experiences are not the marks of free people!
If Jesus has done what’s necessary FOR freedom – perhaps we have to look at what WE need to be doing to LIVE free?
Aron was willing to do whatever was necessary to release himself from his trapped position.
What do you need to let go of to release yourself to live free? What drastic, maybe even painful, measures might you take to free yourself? What hard decisions, painful disciplines, difficult conversations, deliberate re-learnings, or intentional first steps do you need to action to see you move toward the freedom Christ desires for you?