The Will to Obey

He already smelled rotting flesh.

Financial manager Jonathan Metz, 31, of West Hartford, Connecticut, feared the worse. It could be the onset of gangrene. About three days before, he went down to his basement to fix a broken furnace. But, somehow, his arm got caught in the furnace. Bleeding from a severe injury in his arm, he ripped his shirt and twisted it around his trapped arm as a tourniquet. No one knew he was there.

He knew he had to do something drastic to live. To free himself from the death trap, he decided to cut his arm with a saw blade. Dr. Scott Ellner of St. Francis Hospital said, “He nearly did it, but not completely.” He passed out before he could completely amputate his arm. Noticing that Metz had not reported for work, his friend Luca DiGregorio decided to check on him. When Metz did not answer his frantic knocks and hearing the incessant barking of the dog, he immediately called 911. The rescuers had to use heavy equipment such as a spreader (usually used to take the door off a wrecked car) in prying open the furnace to free Metz. Even if he lost his arm, Metz is reportedly in high spirits! Ellner added, “His first thought was to get free, and somehow, get the arm re-attached, that was his first motivation. Then when he knew the arm was gone, because he could smell the gangrene, his motivation was to live and get free.” (Ibid)

I don’t think Metz had Matthew 5:30 in mind when he did it: “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” (ESV) But I admit that when I read Metz’s ordeal it actually crossed my mind. No sacrifice is too great to live the Christian life. Whatever it takes to follow Him, we ought to do it. If something or someone is keeping us from obeying the Lord, we are to take a radical step (or steps) to remove that hindrance. We may not just lose an arm in following Jesus. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. (Luke 9:23-24) That’s the cost of pursuing His cause. As my best friend Pastor Jesse Dedel once said, “It doesn’t really take much to obey the Lord. It just takes all of you.”

Brethren, do we have that will to obey?

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