Hard Decisions - The Warrior's Journey®

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“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.” (Mark 9:43) 

Bill Jeracki, Don Wyman, and Aaron Ralston. Each of these men had to make painful, life or death decisions. They each had to sacrifice a limb to save their life.  

In the fall of 1993 Bill Jeracki was fishing in the Colorado wilderness. As the sun began to set Bill knew he had to get going. But as he walked to his truck across the rugged terrain a boulder slipped and pinned his leg to the ground.  Bill knew if he waited to be rescued he’d die of exposure and hypothermia – a snowstorm was in the forecast. So he did the unthinkable. He applied a tourniquet of fishing line above his knee and, with a pocket knife, he cut off his own leg at the knee to free himself.  He crawled back to his truck, drove to the nearest town, and was then air-evacuated to the Colorado University Hospital. He lost his leg, but he lived. 

Earlier that same year in Pennsylvania, Don Wyman had been cutting firewood with his chain saw when a huge oak tree fell on his left leg and crushed it. Don tried everything to free himself.  But nothing worked and no one came. Finally, Don made a very hard decision. He used the pull-chord for a tourniquet and then cut off his leg with a pocketknife, just below the knee. Somehow he made it to a farmer’s house who phoned for paramedics. Don Wyman lost his leg, but he saved his life. 

In 2003 Aron Ralston had to make the same decision. He had been rock climbing in a red sandstone canyon near Moab, Utah, when a boulder slid and pinned his right arm in a three-foot crevasse. For five days Aron tried to free himself, but to no avail. In desperation Aron Ralston cut off his own right arm to free himself from the crevasse. He still had to rappel down cliffs and hike seven miles to reach park rangers who assisted him. Aron Ralston lost his right arm, but he survived.  

These horrific stories are vivid illustrations of Jesus words in Mark 9:43-48. In our lives there are things that are precious to us, things that are good in themselves – as good as a left leg or a right arm. Yet those things may be a source of spiritual stumbling for us. Those “good things” may ultimately pin us down and come between us and our family, our military obligation, and our God. For the survival of our family and for the survival of our faith in Christ, we must cut those things off. It’s a hard decision. But the stories above demonstrate that sometimes those hard decisions are inevitable. 


  • Is there something in your life that’s hurting your family relationships, your career, or your walk with God – something that is not specifically banned in the Bible? 
  • Is it worth holding on to it, if it means losing everything? 
  • You can survive without that stumbling block.  Let it go.  God will help you. 

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