The legend of the Gordian Knot has been modified through the years, but my favorite part goes this way: There was a knot that no one could untie. It was said that whoever could produce the two ends of the knot would eventually rule Asia. People came from all around to test their skills, but the knot was so intricate that no one could make out the beginning or the end.
Then came Alexander the Great on his way to conquering the provinces of the Persian Empire. He entered the temple where the knot was displayed. He tried a few times to unravel it and then in a moment of brilliance (or frustration), he pulled out his sword and sliced the knot in two. He produced the two ends and claimed the prophecy for himself. Then he went and conquered Asia.
The phrase “cutting the Gordian Knot” now means tackling a difficult problem in creative way.
Do you have your own version of a Gordian Knot problem? Something that is difficult to trace and impossible to solve neatly? Several nights ago, my wife and I were hearing stories of a family’s issues that were so intertwined it was difficult to figure out where to start. Is the husband at fault? Well, he’s partially that way because of his wife. So is it the wife’s fault? Well, the husband triggers that in her as well. And what about the people in their lives who did them wrong? It was a Gordian Knot.
Maybe you’ve got issues like that. Hurts that go so deep, you feel like you’ve had it all your life. Or maybe there long term feuds in your family that you don’t know who was first. We can try like the Gordian Knot to trace the entangled lines to find out who did what and who’s at fault. But these kinds of conversations always break down because the emotional hurt is too much.
What we need is an Alexander-like solution to just cut through the issues. We don’t need to trace every single line from beginning to end. That would take forever, and only gets us lost. We need a solution that slices clean through. And that solution is FORGIVENESS.
Forgiveness doesn’t need to get to the bottom of the problem. Forgiveness doesn’t need an explanation or satisfaction or payment from the person who wronged you. In fact, forgiveness means saying, ”I know you can’t pay me back. And so I’m canceling that debt.” Amazingly, this has the power to wipe the slate clean and make even the most sticky feud whole.
My wife and I have hurt each other so much already in the two and a half years we’ve been married. But every time we forgive each other, things are good as new. Diba, Sweetheart? We’ve hurt our family members and been hurt by them too, but forgiveness keeps us walking together and able to engage with each other without pulling away or becoming increasingly distant.
That’s the only thing that can heal families. That’s the only thing that will cure racial or social divides. That’s the only thing that could save a flawed humanity, which is why God chose to forgive us through Jesus.
Have you got Gordian Knots in your life? Maybe it’s time to stop tracing the roots and just cut clean through it with forgiveness.