My wife came to me the other day, with one of her necklaces, asking for help. Sometimes, the hooks are just too small for her to navigate, especially when she’s working behind her neck. I’m the helper in that case, managing the necklace fastener. But, occasionally those tiny chains that jewelry designers seem to love, have a way of becoming a tangled mess. Those thin chains with almost microscopic links get into what my dad used to call a ‘discomboberated state.’ Over the course of our many years of marriage, I’ve sort of fallen into the role of knot-remover, you might say. My wife hands me her necklace, and she says, “Can you get this knot out for me?”

“Sure,” I say with a confident echo in my voice. “Hand it here.” And so, it begins. After she hands me that knotted necklace, I move to some quiet, well-lit place where I can stare at that knot in that tiny chain. Sometimes, I use a magnifying glass. Sometimes, a spur-of-the-moment tool like a tooth pick helps with the task. I study the tiny chain that has knotted itself into a confusing ball of indistinguishable links. Trying to separate, re-orient, and untangle that necklace chain can take quite a while. But so far, at least, — I’ve only been married 55 years —  but so far, I’ve never had a knot in one of my wife’s necklaces I couldn’t untangle, eventually.

Jesus, of course, is the master at making sense of the confusing knots of life. He’s always been one to untie knots. Eugene Peterson’s The Message paraphrase of Mark’s gospel, chapter 4, says Jesus used stories as “… he presented his message to his disciples, fitting those stories to their experience and maturity. He was never without a story when he spoke. When he was alone with his disciples, he went over everything, sorting out the tangles, untying the knots.” (Mark 4:33-34, The Message)

Everyone knows that our life stories can be a perplexing tangle of circumstances, challenges, and unexpected knots in life’s chain of events. And certainly, in the chaos and violence we’re surrounded by in our world every day, sorting out and making sense of God’s direction and purpose can seem so perplexing. You may have noticed. Life does not move along in a straight line. It can, at times, seem as if things get so confusing, so tangled and garbled and knotted up that no amount of unwinding will help.

Knowing how one seemingly tiny circumstance in my life is supposed to link to another isn’t always easy to see. That’s why I need Jesus. When I face life’s greatest entanglements, the best solution for me is time with Jesus, helping me sort out the tangles, watching him untying the knots.”The wonderful writer, Walt Wangerin, in ‘The Book of God’ put it this way: “The most difficult decisions must be made in private; the hardest knots must be loosed in prayer.”

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