I remember when it happened.

I was working at Focus when I read the news article about the young man who went hiking in the Utah canyons—he was an adventurous guy who went off to play and explore. As he climbed over one rock, it slipped beneath the weight of him. Both he and the rock tumbled and when the dust settled, he couldn’t move. His hand was wedged between the heavy rock and the canyon wall. After six days, his only option was to cut off his arm to escape to freedom. I remember reading his story with a mingled sense of horror and awe.

A few weeks ago, we watched a documentary of his painful journey.

On Friday night, we watched the movie.

I went to sleep that night with Aron’s story on my brain. And I woke up rather philosophical. That happens sometimes. Some days I wake up hungry with a need to go potty. Other times I wake up with profound thoughts on the brain.

You never can tell with me.

So I woke up thinking about the rocks in my own journey. As a young woman I was a lot like Aron. I went out to play and explore in life. I journeyed into canyons and clambered over rocks that seemed so cool. And then I tumbled. The very rock I played on became my trap.

I was thinking on that as I got up. I grabbed my cup of coffee and sat in the living room. I had my quiet time. I read about a man who came to Jesus to ask what He needed to do to inherit eternal life. He gave Jesus the list of the commandments he followed. Jesus looked at him and loved him… (I love that. It says, “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”) And then Jesus asked him to sell all of his possessions and give them to the poor. Jesus knew this guy was held captive by something, and He wanted to set him free.

The man walked away, sad.

He was trapped.

A little later that morning, Brian read through some sports news—as is our Saturday morning custom, he read a few stories out loud to me. One story was about a former football star who became a gambling addict. This broken adult, once a young superstar, had been arrested for scamming people out of millions of dollars. As a young man, he had all the potential in the world, but he’d given in to his addiction. His playful pursuit became a heavy rock that pinned him and drained the life away.

He was trapped.

I’m not always the sharpest needle in the pincushion, but I didn’t want to miss what God might be telling me. What broken piece of my life continues to trap me? The danger with Aron was that the huge rock had cut off all circulation to his hand. His hand was dead and that death was creeping into the rest of his body. Now Aron could have given up and let that happen. Like the rich man in Scripture and the gambling guy in the paper, he could have wrestled for a bit and then given up, “I guess this is just my fate. I can’t break free.”

He could have let death seep into the rest of his body…

But he didn’t. He cut off his own arm to know freedom.

I suppose for the rich man and the gambler, it would have felt like they were cutting off a piece of themselves to break free. I’ve felt that. I’ve had different rocks in my life, habits I didn’t think I could change: Smoking, a longing for romance, food… The list goes on. Habits that felt so much a part of me that it felt like I was cutting off my own arm to let them go.

For Aron, cutting free from that rock was excruciatingly painful.

But it was possible.

And ah, the freedom! The freedom of walking the other way, climbing to safety and leaving that rock back in the dust. And then  after he did the hard work of walking away, the helicopter swept in and rescued Aron. He was tended to and cared for – his wounds healed. Yes, he wears the scars, but he is free.


Talk about joy. Talk about dimpled abandon!

In one scene, when Aron was still trapped, he had a vision of a little boy he knew was the son he would one day have. That vision strengthened him to tear free from all that bound him.

What vision has God planted in your heart? In my heart? That we would go through the painful process of breaking free from the things we’ve come to accept as unchangeable?

Oh friends, I want to take this to heart. Will you join me? Lets not get trapped by anything but the love of God.  Lets not get lost in riches, addictions, poor self image or any other familiar habit that has weighed us down for years, slowly sucking the life from our spiritual bodies.

Will you join me today in asking God what our rock might be? And asking him for strength to tear free and run for his care and mercy?

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23,24).


11 Responses

  1. What a great commentary. This interpretation will help me minister to the broken hearted and those needing encouragement that I serve. Wow. Thank you!

  2. Elsa,
    You inspire me and make me cry all in the same note. You have me pondering all the words God gives you, he speaks to me from you and I love it.

    Thank You most loving and gracious Friend

  3. Loved your story of today as I am busily trying to lift my rocks out of the way….even at my age there are some that hamper my freedom….. God bless, hon and thanks for the reminder!l

  4. Beautiful and insightful work, Elsa. Sometimes we are trapped by the rocks that fall upon us, sometimes there are the rocks we have crawled under, seemingly for shelter that soon entrap us, unable to fully participate in the life we dream of.

    At times, letting go of some of my old rocks felt like cutting off real parts of me. Truly, Aron’s story is a real testimony of how we do have a deep hunger to LIVE!

    What if Aron had been in bondage to vanity? What if he had thought, “I can’t have that son–I’ll never be able to cradle him anyway…I’ll just die here…” No….he held on for the substance of faith…that which remains unseen.

  5. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23,24).
    Hi there,
    I have found it much the same – trapped & thinking I would never get out of truly unspeakable, evil realities that occured in my life. But now I realize I could have never lived through these things that happened if God was not there to protect me. I also believe He let me go through what He did to strengthen me for future tests. Also, I have been feeling that God has been calling me to help others in some way. I do need more direction from Him & possibly from some good people who can further me in getting to where it is I should be in helping others.
    My life was been turned upside down since I can remember – about 3 years old, but just recently I have begun to feel like a whole person (for the 1st time ever) & I have this inner peace I have never felt before. I need to do something with to help others in hopes that they to may feel this freedom God does give. So who wants to help me figure this out? I am & will continue to ask God for guidence but I have a dog to incorporate into the sceam of things. Any suggestions out there?

    1. Lori,

      I love your heart and your desire to reach out to others with the same comfort you’ve received. That’s beautiful in every way! You start at a great place, with the desire. Now keep your eyes open, ask God to show you women who might need an encouraging word. Keep your eyes open and He will direct your steps in that. He is so good to point the way. For me, it started by sharing my story with just a few people. Then He opened doors for me to write about my journey… then other things unfolded that I could never have manufactured for myself. I’ll be praying that God will continue to heal your heart from the hurts you’ve experienced, and that He would give you eyes to see what your next steps should be… Love you, girl!

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