If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 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. –Mathew 5:29-30 ESV
I met one of my closest friends Becca in a small group. Immediately we hit it off as we shared our love of reading, writing, and herbal tea. I fell in love with her resolve to live life to the fullest. She inspired enduring positivity and a fearless desire to overcome with her story.
Becca had survived Ewing's Sarcoma, a type of cancer that occurs primarily in the bone or soft tissue. After an invasive surgery on her left leg, leaving her with a metal plate supporting her cadaver bone, her leg was never the same. Despite living with consistent pain, she was thankful for mobility and became an example of resilience. She continued to pursue endeavors like high-level Spartan races and resolved to use her story to glorify God, unaware that her testimony was still being written.
After a short 3.5 years, the plate in her leg broke. She was left in bewilderment as she had the expectation it would last a lifetime. The only options were to replace the plate, which would surely break again, or to amputate her left leg.
Becca did not have much time to decide considering she was walking with a broken leg, but she desired to do the Lord’s will. I remember intimate discussions about the pros and cons of amputation. She shared that at this point her leg had become a burden, and seemed to be holding her back. She didn’t care about the cost, she wanted her life back. When she told me her decision to amputate, I could see the peace wash over her.
Not everyone understood her decision, but the pressure of varying opinions did not keep Becca from doing what she knew was right. After the surgery, a weight was lifted. Although she had the relief of having one part of her life behind her, now she had a long journey of learning how to live as an amputee.
In the months to follow, she struggled to acclimate to the psychological, physical, and spiritual challenges that arose. Pain and discomfort kept her awake most nights until she fully healed. Her routine fluctuated constantly as she discovered how to do simple daily tasks like showering, dressing, or climbing stairs. She would often forget her leg wasn’t there and had to remember to position her weight differently to compensate. Without notice, her everyday life now required constant conscious thought and intentionality.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20 ESV
The idea of taking up your cross and the revelation is very different. Taking up our cross means laying down things that have become so familiar, so ingrained in us that it feels like a part of us. Jesus relates our sinful desires to appendages for this very reason. Those very things the Lord wants to prune will be the things our flesh fights to preserve. We have to be willing to give up everything we know and learn how to live this life set apart. Christ had to crucify his flesh for complete restoration and so do we.
Whether it is as simple as choosing truth over negative thoughts, or as complex as turning away from an addiction, rejecting our flesh is strenuous. Just as my friend had to learn how to live life again, we do also when we choose to amputate the sin in our lives. There will be doubt, pain, criticism, adjustments, mistakes, and an ever-present need to draw strength from the Lord. We can take comfort in the promise that what God prunes in us, will make way for something new to flourish.
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. -John 15:2 ESV
The Lord only prunes to encourage new, healthy growth in another area. He does not take away and leave us bare, but our obedience makes the way for blessings and maturity, enabling us to fulfill the purpose He called us to. This Christian calling is not meant to be accomplished in our own strength. We must cling to the vine that nourishes us with light and life, the one who changes hearts.
As we take drastic measures to glorify the Father and bear fruit for the kingdom of heaven, we must rest in what Jesus has done and the promise before us. As stated in 1 Corinthians 15, Thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. We no longer are controlled by our sinful passions but have been given the strength of Christ to overcome by the Holy Spirit.
We can choose this with the hope that our faithfulness will not go unrewarded. In John 15:11, Jesus promises that His joy will be in us. If you have ever felt this, you know that His joy gives excitement and wonder. His joy keeps us looking forward to the new things He is doing instead of the things we left behind. These drastic measures become trivial compared to the glory that will be lavished upon us.
Remember to prioritize firsthand Bible reading every day, only the Word has the power to transform."All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV