My friend’s 20-year-old son just went through surgery to remove his leg. He had contracted an aggressive form of cancer and after many months of treatments to save the leg, it was necessary to remove it this last week to save his life.
We all had hoped and prayed that Cody would be able to keep his leg. Two legs are nicer than one. But when it came down to the nitty gritty, life is better than two legs.
A few months ago, I was at a youth meeting where the speaker brought up Matthew 18:8-9, where Christ says if your hand or foot offends thee, cut it off, for “it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.”
Cody’s leg wasn’t threatening him with eternal fire, but his experience has made me think about what is truly important, and what is just fluff. Several years ago, if Cody had been told he would only have one leg, I’m sure he would have thought that was the worst thing that could happen to him. I don’t think he feels that way anymore; neither do I.
After months of painful treatment that didn’t kill the cancer in his leg, I think Cody is just thankful to skilled surgeons who could remove his leg with the spreading tumor. He has many more treatments to undergo, but he’s alive! And he’s more determined than ever to live a productive life and accomplish great things. Next on his list…learn to walk.
Cancer is a nasty word. It scares most of us when we hear that someone has it. There are lots of cancers that destroy bodies, but there are some cancers doctors can’t diagnose. These creep into our lives and slowly eat away at us, destroying our spiritual cells and hope. These cancers come in various forms—selfishness, pride, addictions, bad friends, etc.
To eliminate cancer, doctors attack it aggressively: radiation, surgery, powerful drugs. That is the only hope for beating it. The same must be done with spiritual cancers. It’s hard to do—because many times these vice-cancers become a part of us—like an “arm” or a “leg” that we are very attached to.
But what offends us—or offends Christ—must be cut off. It might be painful to walk away from a friend whose actions are like Samson’s Delilah—destructive—but you’ll be better off in the long run if you do—even if you feel maimed because of pressure.
Many things can destroy us—huge, obvious cancers like drug abuse…to the more subtle, but just as deadly cancers like selfishness, greed, and apathy. None of us are immune to spiritual cancers in some form and strength. Some kill fast…others slowly over a lifetime. The thing is, if we don’t aggressively seek them out and destroy them—cut them from our lives—we will lose our souls to them.
So, in honor of courageous Cody—who inspired me before with his resolve to beat his cancer and save his leg…but now inspires me even more because of his positive determination to get on with life and beat circles around the rest of us with his one leg—I declare that I will be just as dogged in finding and cutting off my own “limbs” that might offend me and keep me from being the person God wants me to be.
I can be kinder…I can be wiser…I can be more compassionate…I can listen better…I can do so much good in this world. But I must make sure to seek the heavenly Specialist who can see the spiritual cancers I might not, and trust Him to cut them from me so that I may be whole and able to reach my potential.
Isn’t it ironic that we must be broken first—cut apart on the surgery table of repentance—to have a chance at being truly whole. Thank you to Cody and his wonderful parents who have been amazing through their ordeal. Cody still has more treatments to undergo, but he’s a trooper—an angel in disguise (who happens to love to hunt). Cody and his family have been able to see heaven through a hellish few months—and have helped a lot of us—their friends—see it too.