A Crippling Encounter at the Mall

Mark 9:41-50
Jas 5:1-6 / Psa 49

It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
(Mark 9:45)

Better be blind than sin just to see,
Or crippled than walk with the carnal.
For no hands or feet nor eyes can be
More precious than the Life eternal.

[Jesus said], “Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward. If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where ‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:41-50)


Accompanying my wife and mother-in-law to the mall one afternoon, I bumped into two old friends (who didn’t know each other) almost simultaneously at a coffee shop. The first was Willy, a habitué of the music bar in our hotel, who loved the night life because of his beautiful singing voice. But his cheerful greeting was soundless, because, as his companion explained, his voice box had been removed. “Cancer of the thorax,” Willy wrote on a table napkin. Before I could recover from the initial shock, along came another familiar face in a wheelchair — Jimmy, a running buddy I used to meet in my early morning runs around the subdivision. With one leg missing, he didn’t look as cheerful as Willy, and in answer to my shocked expression, he told me that it all started with a blister in his left foot which he had taken for granted. Being diabetic, the condition of his foot worsened and before long, had turned gangrenous, requiring amputation above the knee.

Still in a daze, I introduced my two “long lost friends” to each other, before excusing myself to look for my wife and mother-in-law in the department store. A morbid thought came to mind, that Willy could console himself that even without his voice, he could still get around the mall; while Jimmy could always pour out his frustration to sympathetic friends without exhausting table napkins.

Two friends: Willy from my past nightlife days, and Jimmy, of my early morning fitness runs — both losing something precious to them. But while Willy lost his singing voice because of his unhealthy lifestyle (cigarettes and alcohol), Jimmy was trying to maintain his health by running, which ironically caused the blister that led to his leg amputation. What was the Lord telling me in these simultaneous encounters? It was simply this: in the end, whatever you hold precious in this life has really no value unless it is used for the kingdom of God.

Dear God, by Your grace, I hope both of my friends, Willy and Jimmy would finally come to realize that what they have lost is of no significance compared to a much greater loss if they have not learned by it.

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