The Next Right Thing
Week Two /// Brian Massey /// Solo Study
In 2004, a thrill-seeking outdoorsman wrote an autobiography about his near death experience.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place (2004), the best-selling autobiography written by Aron Ralston, replays his story of hiking alone in Utah’s Blue John Canyon and the unbelievable, intense and gruesome steps he took to survive. The book was later adapted into the 2010 Academy Award-Nominated film 127 Hours which starred James Franco.
On the morning of April 26, 2003, Aron Ralston decided to go for a solo journey climb into the Blue John Canyon. His goal was to bike, climb, and hike his way over a thirty-mile terrain within one day.
Aron brought with him a gallon of water, two burritos, five chocolate bars, and a chocolate muffin, as well as his canyoneering equipment, a multi-tool and a pack with digital accessories such as his CD player and digital camera.
At 2:41 p.m. that afternoon, a boulder he was climbing becomes loose and he fell into the canyon. The boulder pinned his right hand and wrist against the wall. Ralston quickly assessed his situation and understood the likelihood that he will die trapped in this canyon was rather high.
Imagine being trapped in Aron’s situation. A couple of hours after becoming trapped, Ralston begins to chip away at the boulder with his multi-tool, but soon sees the effort as futile.
The only real way he could escape was by cutting off his right arm, but he does not believe he has the tools to do so.
During his second day in the canyon, he realizes that his dead hand trapped behind the boulder will likely release toxins that will poison him - if he isn’t first killed by dehydration, hypothermia, or a flash flood. He then tried again to dislodge the boulder using other techniques but makes little progress.
He knew that he had hardly enough food to last another two days, even with sparse rationing and he sips water as infrequently as possible. He knew a slow death was in his near future.
As the days passed, he began hallucinating from dehydration and insomnia, seeing friends and family pass as ghosts before him. He turned to his own urine for nourishment and fantasized about daiquiris and margaritas as time passed slowly.
On May 1st, five days after the beginning of his ordeal, Ralston prepared himself for death and began making videos of himself saying goodbye to his loved ones.
The next day, he discovered his arm was decomposing, and he suddenly became aware of how he can successfully amputate his arm.
He broke his own ulna and radius bones by torquing them and then used a two-inch pocket knife to saw off his forearm.
Once he finally separated himself from the boulder, he tourniqueted his arm, climbed out of the canyon, rappelled down a wall and hikes out of the canyon. He soon came across a vacationing family and was rescued.
127 hours is quite a time to feel stuck and hopeless. It is a time that can be used to reflect on events of your past which led you to where you are.
In that time of waiting, your emotions have the opportunity to control your thought process and wage a war on your reality.
Aron found himself literally stuck between a rock and hard place. His decision was to either to let the situation get the best of him and allow himself to give up and die, or fight for his life.
You see, it is the moments in which you feel the most stuck that God will use to define, refine and perfect you.
But it is going to hurt a little bit.
Aron, (much like a lot of us as well) felt as though he was invincible. He felt that nothing bad could ever happen to him. He struggled with what a lot of us struggle with: Pride.
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
“But he gives more grace.
Therefore it says,
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you... Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
(James 4:6-8, 10)
There is a difference between being confident and being full of pride. It comes down to a common denominator: humility.
In Ruth Chapter 2, while she was “stuck” in a routine of gleaning, Ruth still worked and lived from a place of humility.
When you are walking out of a place of humility then authenticity leaks from you and draws people to you. Hence why Boaz was drawn to Ruth.
Jesus describes this as well in Matthew 23:12:
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled,
and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
So, when you find yourself (either currently or in the future) stuck between a rock and a hard place, or feel that it (a relationship, marriage, job or something else) is heading in that direction, choose to walk humbly.
Push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Be bold in your love for that other person.
Believe the best about that person and choose to walk in the light, not darkness.
You are not wired, created or supposed to go through the moments alone.
Imagine during that 127 hours of agony if, instead of traveling without his phone or letting someone know where he was, if Aron would have told someone and communicated where he was going and what he was doing.
Most times we learn our most valuable lessons from our failures or from someone else's’ mistakes.
Choose to over-communicate and not be afraid to walk in humility in bringing what tries to live in the darkest places of our hearts and consume us and bringing them instead into the light.
“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”
St. Francis of Assisi
Where do you feel that you are in between a rock and a hard place?
Write it down and let it become a prayer point/focus point for you in these next few weeks.
A key to a breakthrough moment is surrender or giving up. Giving up control, power, a “my way or the highway” mentality, etc. What steps can you take to “give up” or “surrender” this week?
How can your group help you in prayer and/or encouragement?
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Who do you need to reach out to to help “stir you up?”