One of the things that I have always been fascinated by about Scout’s camp meetings is the impressive structure they build out of wooden logs and rope. That made me join the Scouts when I was nine years old. I learned that it is not the log nor the rope that is the star of the show but the knots that hold the rope and the logs together to form that structure.
Knots would go on to feature in my life over and over again. While serving in the army, I was taught to tie more knots as part of our rescue training. Although the Scouts taught me to tie beautiful knots, the army emphasized secure knots. No point in tying a beautiful knot that does not hold together firmly. I would polish my knot-tying skills while learning to sail, and after moving to Melbourne, Australia, I found out that good knots hold the fall leaves down so that you will not decorate your entire street with them as you drive toward the dumping site.
Along the way, the knot would also feature as a metaphor in my life. Yes, I ended up in many “knots” that needed others to untie but more importantly, it became a reminder of my connection to Jesus.
Moving to Australia and living there was one of the hardest things I had to go through (yes, harder than the army). Yes, I enjoyed the wonderful city called Melbourne and loved attending Monash University classes. But I was at an age where I was constantly transitioning to a different stage in life and confronted with new cultures to adapt to at every step. So, adapting to a new country with a new set of cultural values and practices while transitioning through major life stages was not the most fun thing to experience.
Going from a strict regimented culture in the army and a safe and paternal educational system in Singapore to living in an open and free country while attending a public university with mixed dorms and bathrooms was a culture shock that took some time to acclimate. Challenges came from all angles, especially in terms of my faith and relationship with God. That’s where the lessons from knot-tying came back to mind.
I used to think that I was the knot-tying person. I thought I was the one responsible for keeping my relationship with God secure. By checking on my knot periodically (weekly worship), learning new knot-tying methods (discipleship programs), teaching others and sharing with others how to tie various knots (evangelism) and practicing my knots daily (daily devotions).
I found out that every time I was pulled back to safety during my bout with new cultures and was at the brink of being sucked entirely into it without discernment, it was the Spirit – the rope, the knot, the anchor all in one, that pulled me back to safety. I was not the one tying the knot. He was. And He made sure that when I neglected the knot, He did not. I learned that despite my careless attitude toward Him, I was never abandoned or neglected. I was securely attached. His love for me held fast.
I love how marriage is described as knot-tying. The Scripture tells us in Mark 10:9, in reference to the first marriage of Adam and Eve says, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” God set the standard for marriage and uses that as a metaphor for His relationship with us. God has joined us together with Himself, and no man can ever separate that.
Now that I am leading in a new capacity. I have to engage with a whole new set of cultures. Political cultures, church cultures, educational cultures, traditional cultures, historical cultures, and many more are brought about by a tribe that shares a common name but is made up of more than 50 groups with various cultural heritage. But no matter what I am faced with, I know I am called to lead, not from my academic know-how or my strategic experience. Instead, I am called to lead and guide from a clear knowledge that I am securely attached to the one that loves me and the people I lead. One who will never let go. One who ensures that the knot He ties is a knot that no man can untie.