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by Jason Elliot
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I remember and old joke that circulated when I was a child. A rope walks into a bar and orders a drink from the bartender. The bartender looks at the rope strangely and asks “are you a rope?” The rope replies “No – I’m a frayed knot”. Think about it for a moment – you’ll eventually ‘get it’.
Its amazing how so often we can conceal the truth about our ‘state’; how tired we are, how spiritually lost we are, or how we really feel about a given situation. Let’s say we substitute the many areas which make up our ‘life’ for rope, how many of them are knotted and frayed?
It begs the question – How many of our ‘lifeline’ ropes are in critical condition?
We all heard the statement, or in my opinion the cliché, “the fabric of society is frayed”. We can only assume that this fabric like most is made up of many small fibres or ‘ropes’, woven together to make one – a fabric! Given the last suggestion, we can also suggest that if the fabric is woven from society’s individual ropes, then the fraying of the society’s fabric is a derivative of the frayed ropes of individuals.
We also have to consider the concept and effect of broken ropes – ropes that are supposedly now unable to be used, generally discarded because they are now deemed ‘ineffective for the purpose intended’. The practice of splicing is the intertwining of two separate pieces of rope – good or bad, new or used, resulting in a good and useful end product. It is a process that requires some patience and some time, but is eventually very rewarding because once complete we once again have a useful piece of rope.
Is it a lack of patience and time executed in society that has seen this fraying of the fabric – the discarding of the seemingly useless, preferring replacement rather than repair? Do we as individuals, each with our own fraying ropes, even consider identifying the benefits of splicing – becoming ‘one’, by utilising our good rope, and joining it together with the frayed rope in order to strengthen and repair the ‘fabric’?
I believe that due to distraction, selfishness, and ‘life’ generally, we overlook as a race the whys and how’s of the fray, and I believe that the ‘covering up’ – the concealing of our own frayed ropes is more often than not because of pride. We would rather house frayed ropes, tucking them away to prevent detection, than reveal our shortcomings. As an engineer I’m well aware of the necessary and frequent assessment of integrity required in structures which we take for granted on a daily basis. We know for example, that if engineers ignored frayed or damaged [wire] ropes on suspension bridges such as the Golden Gate in San Francisco, the eventual results would be catastrophic, and that the engineers would be held account should such negligence be realised and those engineers would face imprisonment. That seems a fairly serious outcome for ignore fatique and corrosion on a bridge doesn’t it? The reason for the seriousness is because human life is involved – because of the potential human life cost! So why is it then, that we will go to great lengths to protect our fellow men from falling into harm when it comes to structures, but we seem to turn a blind eye to the harm being caused to fellow man by the fraying of our own individual ropes, and a subsequent fraying of the fabric of society?
Why do we find it so easy to conceal [our frayed ropes] in order to protect self, attack – just because we can, bully and dominate because we have the power to, and discard and ignore because of a different opinion or viewpoint? I believe its because as a race we have developed a mindset of self first, and live by the unspoken proclamation that we are generally not accountable to anyone but ourselves. We stand for self, motivated by greed and materialism, and we live for THIS life – a very BIG mistake!
Sadly for mankind (in its current position), God expects something quite different, and He has given us some very clear instruction...
In the story of the sheep and the goats, it is made clear that there is an expectation of demonstrative care and concern for those who cross our path. We are simply expected to watch out for one another and care for one another, feed those that need feeding, water those that need watering, cloth those that need clothing, and to ‘take in’ those that need shelter. We are expected to share our comfort with those that are uncomfortable, and we are expected to exercise it without condition. The rules are clear...give the shirt off your back if required without resent.
We live in and condone a society – a fabric which, gives with the expectation of receiving back, comforts for brownie points and self glorification, holds ransom over those most in need, and punishes those that have ‘got it right’. We live in a society that is so insecure about who or what it is, or driven by the expectation of others, that we tear down those who grab the torch and attempt to remind us of our obligations to each other, and to God.
One of the great statements which I hear so often, have mentioned before, and am growing tired of hearing is “if there was a God, He wouldn’t allow all of these [bad] things to happen; if He was real all the sickness, poverty, violence etc wouldn’t happen – He wouldn’t allow it because He’s supposed to love us.” It amazes me that those choose to live by this statement, speak it with such conviction, yet fail to realise it is so weak!
Let’s put the world into context – Gods context. The world a training ground for us; training us in discipline, love, care, selflessness, worship, commitment, dedication and the list goes on. How would we ever learn the meaning of these things if there wasn’t difference, pain, and suffering? How could we reach out if there was no one to reach out to? How would we be tested? Without all of the difficult aspects of life...if life was smooth running for us all, we would be ‘unemployed’ and there would be no point to this life, except I guess the opportunity to ‘mingle’. Although it is difficult for us to understand, and even more so for un-believers, the tragedy, the horror, and the death, there is always something good that can be taken out of these experiences. It may take a long time, it may take a lot of healing, and sometimes the seemingly good in it may come from left field, but it will be there – somewhere. I would also advise...don’t expect that you will necessarily be the beneficiary of the good either, as this whole concept is about Gods plan not yours.
I don’t make this statement loosely either, I make it from experience – a lot of experience of seeing good come out of some real ‘yuk’ stuff. I have also taken note over the past decade when presented with some of the horrible and well known tragedies which have stamped their mark on history. I have watched and listened closely; people’s reactions, their character, the results when all is said and done, the way in which leaders are discovered and forward motion implemented. I’ve observed as some vry special people have stood up and led those that are grieving and broken through some very dark valleys, guiding them with encouragement and support to a place not so dark and final. Simple humanity shines through in a bid to help splice the frayed ropes that those suffering are carrying on board, for when we are at our lowest and we are vulnerable, that is when our frayed ropes are exposed...no longer shielded by pride and self preservation. I know some of the many difficult aspects of life that I have faced have seen my spirit doused with torment, fear, uncertainty, and persecution; the match has been lit, and I’ve burned through it. It results in scars and a long road of healing, but as my frayed ropes are exposed it presents opportunity for God to work, for others who are willing and selfless to comfort and support...and thus we have a union – a splice – a oneness. It is a splicing that society as a whole lacks, it is a splicing that is too rarely seen, it is a splicing which derives from genuine actions without judgement or opinion, without condemnation or persecution, without conditions.
Are you up for it? Are you willing to drop the barriers and do the right thing? Are you prepared to give up everything you have or may be, to help make changes to the fabric of society?
Jesus was crucified – murdered! Yet the hope that ensued, the path that he cut for us, and the frayed ropes that have seen repair through this terrible event in history is proof of the impact that light – a little splicing – can have in darkness.
Don’t waste away the opportunities given us to understand a real and loving Gods heart...don’t walk by fraying ropes because it’s too hard or doesn’t fit your schedule or plan. Think and look a little deeper and say to yourself, “if on the receiving end, I would hope that...somebody noticed or gave a real damn!”

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