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Habit 5: Cut the Rope

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

7th Sunday after Pentecost, July 11th

Behind every success story there is one moment where someone did something risky and it opened the door wide for possibility beyond their dreams. That one moment, Batterson describes, is called the adjacent possible. This is the moment which links 'what is' to 'what could be.' This is the seed that plants the harvest to come. This moment is often a risk, but it is a necessary one in order to accomplish what lies ahead. “The adjacent possible is the thing that makes something else possible. The microchip is the thing that made scientific calculators, personal computers, and smartphones possible...The adjacent possible is one small step that turns into a giant leap” (137).

The concept of the fifth habit, “Cut the Rope,” comes from the story of Elisha Otis, who in 1853 took a great risk by displaying his concept for an elevator brake in front of a huge crowd at the world’s fair in New York City. He stood on an elevator platform, and signaled for his assistant to cut the rope that was holding him up; upon doing so, the platform began to fall, and Otis was able to demonstrate his invention – the elevator brake. This risk of cutting the rope gave birth to engineers using elevators instead of stairs in building designs. In essence, cutting the rope gave birth to skyscrapers that were never even thought of before Elisha Otis stepped out with a huge risk (133-134).

In the Gospel of Matthew, we find the account of Jesus walking on water, and while this in and of itself is a miracle that deserves recognition, the focus for this week should be on Peter’s decision to step out of the boat. Peter knew the laws of nature and he knew that nobody could walk on water, yet he trusted Jesus enough to step out of the boat and take a risk. Even though he was scared and began to sink, Jesus still rescued him and spoke to Peter’s faith or lack thereof. If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, we can have the faith to step out of the boat or cut the rope and take those risks that seem to go against every law of nature.

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