Summary: Sometimes we just have to let go of somethings to survive in our walk with God. It may hurt but God will keep you.

“Between a Rock and an Hard Place”

From the desk of Pastor Blankenship

TEXT: Mr 9:43

43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: {offend...: or, cause thee to offend}

44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: {offend...: or, cause thee to offend}

46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: {offend...: or, cause thee to offend}

"IT’S 3:05 ON SUNDAY. This marks my 24-hour mark of being stuck in Blue John Canyon. My name is Aron Ralston. My parents are Donna and Larry Ralston, of Englewood, Colorado. Whoever finds this, please make an attempt to get this to them. Be sure of it. I would appreciate it."

It’s April 27, 2003, and for the first time since my arm was pinned against the wall of this Utah canyon, I am using my digital camcorder to videotape myself. I take long blinks and rarely look at the camera’s screen. What makes me avert my glance is the haggard expression in my eyes. They are wide-open, huge bowls; loose rolls of flesh sag and tug at my lower eyelids.

Picking up the camera, I point it first at my forearm and wrist, where it disappears in the horrifyingly skinny gap between a large boulder and the canyon wall. Then I pan the camcorder up over the pinch point to my grayish-blue hand.

"What you’re looking at there is my arm, going into the rock ... and there it is—stuck. It’s been without circulation for 24 hours. It’s pretty well gone."

Shaking my head in defeat, I yawn, battling fatigue.

I outline my failed attempts at self-rescue, and continue. "The other thing that could happen is someone comes. This being a continuation of a canyon that’s not all that popular, and the continuation being less so, I think that’s very unlikely before I retire from dehydration and hypothermia. Judging by my degradation in the last 24 hours, I’ll be surprised if I make it to Tuesday."

I know with a sense of finality that I’m saying goodbye to my family—my parents and my 22-year-old sister, Sonja—and that regardless of how much I suffer in this spot, they will feel more agony than me.

"I’m sorry."

With tears brimming, I stop filming and rub the backs of my knuckles across my eyes. I start up once more.

"You guys make me proud. I go out looking for adventure and risk, so I can feel alive. But I go out by myself, and I don’t tell someone where I’m going—that’s just dumb. If someone knew, if I’d been with someone else, there would probably already be help on the way. Dumb, dumb, dumb."

Stress turns into pessimism. Without enough water to wait for rescue, without a pick to crack the boulder, without a rigging system to lift it, I have one course of action. I speak slowly out loud:

"You’re gonna have to cut your arm off."

Hearing the words makes my instincts and emotions revolt. My vocal cords tense and my voice changes octaves:

"But I don’t wanna cut my arm off!"

"Aron, you’re gonna have to cut your arm off."

I realize I’m arguing with myself, and yield to a halfhearted chuckle. This is crazy. But I know that I could never saw through my arm bones with either of the blades of my multi-tool, so I decide to keep picking away at the boulder. Tick, tick, tick ... tick ... tick, tick. The sound of my knife tapping is pathetically minute.


9 A.M.

I update my hour tallies in my head: 96 hours of sleep deprivation, 90 hours that I’ve been trapped, 29 hours that I’ve been sipping my urine, and 25 hours with no fresh water. The exercise evokes no emotion, only matter-of-fact acknowledgment.


I lash out in fury, trying to yank my arm straight out from under the sandstone handcuff, never wanting more than I do right now to simply rid myself of any connection to this rotting appendage.

I don’t want it.

It’s not a part of me.

It’s garbage.

Throw it away, Aron. Be rid of it.

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