The phrase “all wound up” is sometimes used to describe someone in a state of agitation.
Something (or someone) upset them, it has brought pain to their heart; that pain has affected them emotionally. The specific emotion may be anger, frustration, or even disappointment; but the result is deep emotional tension.
Personal attacks have an almost insular quality. It is quite easy to feel totally isolated and alone in those periods of pain. Especially when the source of the attack is someone you care for or trust. Everyone has been there, everyone understands this pain.
Today’s verse sets out a solid approach to making it through times like this:
A CORD OF THREE STRANDS IS NOT QUICKLY BROKEN
King Solomon, also the author of the Book of Proverbs in the bible, is also widely accepted as the author of the Ecclesiastes. Aside from having a title that is difficult for the uninitiated to pronounce, much of its content is hard to unravel as well. It is a book that takes a hard look at some of life’s greatest challenges and allows no simplistic answers to them. The phrases “meaningless” and “chasing after the wind” are employed several times to describe man’s situation.
Yet even in the midst of evaluating harsh situations and even harsher outcomes, the book provides several gems of hope and victory. Today’s verse is one of them.
A CORD OF THREE STRANDS
If you don’t know how strong ropes are made, you might think that the kind of rope being described here is made of ONLY three small, single strands. But if you examine the rope in today’s image (or an actual three-stranded rope, for that matter) you’ll notice that each of the three MAJOR strands is actually composed of a large number of smaller, individual strands. These smaller strands have actually been wound together first, before they are brought together to form the three-stranded cord.
The multiple smaller strands are first tied off at the head and joined together, so they have something that holds them in place as the initial tension is applied. All three strands of the final cord begin as bundles of smaller strands. Then, after being placed under tension, these three groups of smaller strands are twisted in a single direction. For purposes of this illustration, we shall say the clockwise direction. Continued twisting and winding in the clockwise direction actually causes the individual strands to become wound together. This tension and twisting is applied at the far end of the rope being made, apart from where they have all been tied off together.
Once the initial clockwise twisting has been completed, ONLY THEN can the head of the rope (on the other end) be twisted to bring the three strands together. In order for the rope to be properly wound and have reliable strength, the twisting from the head must be done counter-clockwise. It is this “reverse-twisting” that binds the three cords together. Because this is done under tension, the fibers are bound together and friction holds them in their final form.
NOT QUICKLY BROKEN
Being joined together at the head is the critical first step. Jesus Christ is the head of the Church. It is in Him that we must begin, and it is in Him that we ought to be bound together. He, as our head, gathers us all – individual strands – and prepares us to be made one. Alone we are weak, alone we are easily snapped and broken. He knows this. Until we face pressure and tension, many of us find it far easier to remain alone. He knows this, too.
So the pressure is added, the tension established. Life begins to twist and turn us. Work situations, health challenges, painful relationships and a myriad of other things keep the pressure constant. The road of life throws us constant twists and turns, sometimes even hairpin turns and reversals. Though much we endure seems “meaningless” and “chasing after the wind, ” we have the promise that God works ALL THINGS together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. So the twisting continues, and we become bound to those closest to us.
Then, at the proper time, God knows that life’s twisting has worked all it can work in us for the time being. We have been pressed into those around us – our closest family and friends. You’d think THAT is when the pressure would back off a bit, right? Ahh, if only.
When life has finished all its preparation, God steps in more directly. Like the rope-maker, He begins the twisting from the other end of the rope. It is then that the three strands which were formed by the initial twisting are themselves wound and bound. In the first instance we are bound to one another. In this instance we are bound closer to God as He brings what began as small, insignificant, weak and distinct and makes it into a singular unity.
Multiple strands, twisted first one way and then another, become inextricably bound together into a composite entity where each strand benefits from the other.
God knows how to create unity in the midst of diversity.
God knows that our greatest strength is as we are bound to Him and to one another.
God knows that we will never be as strong alone as we can be standing together.
God knows that it is our diversity – deliberately wound in unity – that delivers our greatest strength.
GOD KNOWS !!
And so He winds and binds. He brings us together with tension, pressure, and adversity; as well as with affection, attraction and love. Each of the separate strands are wound together so they may strengthen one another; and so that they may eventually strengthen the whole.
We are bound and wound, bound and wound — so we may serve well. God works all things together in us and for us — to our good. For His purposes. For His ultimate glory.
God knows that we will need His strength, like a cord of three strands, to succeed in all He has called us to do.
So He forms us and shapes us. Forming HIMSELF in us by the pressure and the tension. Binding us to Him.
A CORD OF THREE STRANDS IS NOT QUICKLY BROKEN