Community Readiness

Chaplain’s Corner: Tie a knot at end of the rope

By Chaplain (Maj.) Christopher Degn, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation /

Throughout my life, when I’ve faced challenging or intimidating situations, I’ve noticed the importance of strategically-placed, well-tied knots.

“When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” – Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt

President Roosevelt (whose personal retreat, by the way – the “Little White House,” is in nearby Warm Springs, Ga., and makes a great day trip for the family) was no stranger to challenging situations.

Chaplain (Maj.) Christopher Degn
Chaplain (Maj.) Christopher Degn

His presidential tenure saw recovery from the Depression and involvement in WWII, not to mention his own personal battle with polio that brought him so often to Warm Springs for its therapeutic benefit. His quote speaks not only to the point of the Warrior Ethos’ “I will never quit,” but addresses as well the supreme importance of having a knot in place.

I would beg to differ with him on one small point of his quote, saying this instead… “BEFORE you begin the climb on the rope, make sure you tie a knot.”

Physical examples of this in my life – rappelling’s Swiss seat and the repel buddy on belay, parachuting’s reserve parachute and the Jumpmaster who inspects you, and SCUBA diving’s (a personal favorite) dive buddy and Divemaster who both inspect you and watch out for you.

Religious author Spencer W. Kimball once said this about the importance of intangible knots (spiritual, social, familial, etc.), “Right decisions are easiest to make when we make them well in advance, having ultimate objectives in mind; this saves a lot of anguish at the fork, when we’re tired and sorely tempted.”

God’s word tell us that He is “on belay” for us. He has provided important intangible things (e.g., faith, Army Values) and human Jumpmasters/Divemasters at the fork, who are in essence our “knot” (e.g., battle buddies, family, leaders, helping professionals) that we can cling to when we’re at the end of our rope:

“Lean not unto your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5

“A brother is born for adversity.” – Proverbs 17:17

My challenge to you is that you take Mr. Kimball’s advice to heart. Sit down and take a moment, before the crises come, and consider your knot(s). Make sure they’re tied beforehand. Do your inspection. And help your battle buddies do theirs. If you wait until the crises, you are too late – and you risk slipping off the rope.

Think about it, it’s hard to tie a knot with one hand when you’re clinging with the other.

1 comment on “Chaplain’s Corner: Tie a knot at end of the rope

  1. Stephanie shears

    Love this post and reading. God is good! Praying for you all at Fort Benning and my son who is there also.

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