Over 20 years ago I had a piece published in a Sunday School take-home paper titled, “The Untangling.” I thought of that true story recently when I faced a new tangled mess, which I felt determined to untangle. Here is the story from years ago followed by my thoughts about my latest untangling:
“I give up,” I said and tossed the tangled necklace into the kitchen drawer with the paper clips and safety pins.
I had hoped to give Mindy, our 10-year-old, the heart necklace I found as a gift for Christmas, but getting the knots out seemed impossible. Finding it on the hidden road close to the hotel where the nursing seminar was held seemed special.
Not wanting to miss my daily walk, I set out during the lunch hour in the congested city area. To my amazement, I discovered a little road leading into a peaceful neighborhood on a lake. Trees abounded, the breeze refreshed me, and I felt thousands of miles away from the city. On that road, I found the necklace.
Now I knew why. Someone had probably thrown it away when they saw how tangled it was. It was so pretty–with a delicate chain and a filigree heart a little smaller than a dime. Despite the abuse it had been through, the necklace looked shiny. I was sure if it was real gold, but it seemed a shame to throw it away.
Christmas arrived, and I gave a store-bought jewelry gift to Mindy.
The necklace stayed in the drawer until two months later when I decided to give it another try because Mindy’s birthday was coming up. It seemed the Lord urged me on. “This time don’t give up. I’m going to teach you something with that necklace.”
Suddenly the necklace took on new meaning. It was one of God’s children with a tangled, messed-up life. Beauty was there, but the tangled mess made it seem useless. My hands symbolized God as I worked on the untangling process.
Several times I felt like tearing at the delicate chain and then trashing it, but I knew God would never do that. Instead He works patiently with us, untangling the messes our lives have become.
I worked for over an hour, but the knots seemed worse. I thought of the disorders in my life. God had worked through them with me–my battles with depression, the crises in our marriage and with the children, my fear of intimacy with God. Gratefulness filled my heart for how God patiently untangled each one.
I had other things to do, but untangling the necklace seemed so important. If I could unravel this impossible mess with God help, then I knew he could solve any problem in my life and in anyone’s life. This necklace became a promise delivered to me from God–if I got it untangled.
It seemed amazing to me, as I coaxed my hands to be gentle like God’s, that the delicate chain didn’t break. I used a safety pin to pull the chain and spread it out to get a better look at the knots. After another hour, every kink was gone. Carefully, I spread it out on the kitchen table and stared at it in awe.
I felt tempted to put it away for safekeeping, afraid now to give it to Mindy, afraid she might tangle it again. But that was not God’s plan.
I presented it to Mindy for her birthday.
“This is a very special necklace,” I explained to her. “It was a gift from God.”
I shared with her the untangling process.
When Mindy wore that still tangle-free necklace, it reminded me of God’s patience with us. It also reminded me He never gives up on our lives.
Not long after, when things seemed a bit knotted in my life and in the lives of those I prayed for, I went into Mindy’s room and took out the necklace. As I fingered the delicate chain, I remembered, “He is able.” ….
My recent tangled mess involved a wind chime Steve and I bought a number of years ago out west on a trip. For a while it hung in my office at home, but over time the fishing lines which held the beautiful agate geodes and hung down, became badly tangled. So I took the wind chimes down and stuck them in a closet.
Not long ago I told myself I wanted to deal with broken things in our home. Those wind chimes came to mind. Also, my story from years ago did too. Even though the fishing lines remained tightly twisted with each other, I refused to believe it was impossible to untangle them.
If I could untangle that necklace, certainly with the Lord’s help I can untangle this mess, I thought. So I determined to work on the wind chime
I worked on it one day, and then proceeded to continue the task the next. I remained patient, I prayed along the way, and I enlisted help from my husband.
Praise the Lord! The wind chimes now hang in our kitchen by the sliding glass door and look and sound lovely. This untangled beautiful piece also serves as a reminder of all the times and ways the Lord untangled the messes in my life and continues to do so. I praise Him for His faithfulness.
On Thursday at the writing group I lead, one of the members had a quote in her writing, which goes along with untangling: “Yet through all, we know this tangled skein is in the hands of One who sees the end from the beginning; he shall yet unravel all.” (Alexander Smith, 1830-1867)
Verses that comes to mind as I think of untangling are these:
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble,” Psalm 46:1 NIV
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…” Ephesians 3:20
I look forward to seeing how God will untangle the present “messes” I face in my life. The key is to remain dependent on Him.