It looked almost as if we had lost him… friends had pretty much written him off. Not even his mother thought she would ever see him again. It was a tragedy, almost beyond bearing for you see, there was this huge stone, weighing about half a ton that just completely sealed his doom. There was no hope, it was absolutely impossible for him to survive. Nobody expected a miracle, it just wasn’t going to be; for all intents and purposes… he was gone. I’m referring to Aaron Lee Ralston, who in 2003 at the age of 27 was pinned to a boulder near Moab, Utah. He loved mountain climbing and he had climbed many of the 14teeners in the state of Colorado and his hope was to climb them all. Because he was adventuresome, he chose to climb at night. preferably after midnight and always in the winter season. Ralston was known for his extreme exploits as he dreamed of the day when he would take on the ultimate height in the Himalayas. But not this day… Not in this canyon. Stuck now in the Blue John Canyon in Utah, with this massive boulder that has rolled upon his arm and pinned him. His hand was crushed and pinned all the way up to his forearm. He had a cheap dull knife that came with a $15.00 flashlight set. He thought if maybe he could chip away at the stone he might be able to pull his arm out, but it wouldn’t budge. By now 5 days and nights had passed…his hand had died, he was dehydrated, and becoming delirious and desperate. It dawns on him the morning of the 6th day that there is one way he could be freed. It was to take that knife and to cut his arm off at the forearm. Down near the wrist. Even though the blade was dull, even though there are these 2 bones in this arm that must be broken… he was going to do it… and he did it! In his own words… “I was able to snap the radius, the larger of the 2 bones and then the ulna, and then I began to saw into the skin. He used the plyers in the cheap knife to work away at the tendons and pull them loose… it took an hour to do the job. He had 8 miles between the boulder where he was stuck and his pickup truck, which was a stick shift, by the way. He also had this 65-foot sheer cliff he would have to repel to get the base of the canyon. Using his one good hand, he fastened his rope to the top and began to repel down the cliff all the while bleeding and in shock! Miraculously he was found by some Dutch campers who were in the canyon… the rest as they say is history! What could have easily been tragedy turned into a victorious outcome!
Now if you think that getting out from under a boulder by cutting your own arm off is a big thing then have I got a story for you! What about getting out of a grave after you have lost your life? After the apostle Paul describes the reality and convincing proofs of the resurrection of Jesus Christ he closes his thought to the church at Corinth with these words… “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet, will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So, when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, (Grave) where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks, be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” This story of the resurrection is more than just about what happened on a hillside outside of Jerusalem over 2000 years ago, it’s about what this truth means to us today!
Paul closed by saying, because Jesus is alive… Be steadfast in other words be consistent, determined, committed to the Gospel. This is true, you know! Also, he mentioned being unmovable. Don’t let anything change your mind, your opinion or your faith. There are a lot of opinions out there… but one truth regarding eternal life! Then lastly… always abounding in God’s work. Keep at it in Jesus name, it won’t be for nothing. Eternity weighs things differently than the world. You are making a difference! That’s what’s next!
Tim Throckmorton is the former Executive Pastor of the Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace Ohio and the Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio. He is currently the Senior Pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.ReachReach