ROUTINE for Professor’s Nightmare


First appeared in 1996 in Seeing Truth Volume 1 #10 by Duane Laflin

This lesson is an illustration made with the effect known as the “Professor’s Nightmare”.

What happens?

Magician shows the audience three ropes. Each rope is a different length. The commandment is read and brief comment is made about it. Coveting is explained as being unhappy because you do not have something another person has.

The three ropes are used to illustrate people with different situation! s and st atus in life. Mysteriously the three ropes become the same length. The message is that God sees us all to be of same value as persons and He loves us all the same. To covet is to reject God’s view of our lives and to be unsatisfied with God’s will for our lives. Instead we should learn to be content with who we are and what we have.

How it happens?

This illustration uses a standard “illusion” known as the Professor’s Nightmare or Equal-Unequal Ropes. The trick is easy to learn. The ropes are not gimmicked. The effect is accomplished by switching ends of the ropes and causing the shortest rope to loop around the longest rope. When the ropes are pulled through the hand and the “joint area” where the long and short ropes are connected is hidden, the end result is the optical illusion that the ropes have changed from three different sizes to all the same size.


Read the commandment and explain that to covet is to be unhappy because some! one else has something you do not.

Bring out the three ropes and show them to be of different lengths. Use them to illustrate how people are not all the same. Some are tall, some are short. Some are fast, some are slow. Some find it easy to get good grades in school; others find it to be very difficult.

Some have dark hair, some have red hair. Some get lots of compliments about being beautiful or “good-looking” others do not get very many compliments. Just as the three ropes are not the same, people are not the same.

Now bring the ends of the ropes up into your hands to prepare for the switch. As you do so, comment on how some people are unhappy because they are not like other people. Since they cannot run as fast, or do not have as much money, or have blond hair rather than black…or black hair rather than blond, they feel like something is wrong. Rather than being happy with the way God has made them they wish they were like somebody else.

Rather than being content with the kind of life God is allowing them t! o live t hey want to have the things that belong to others. These people do not trust that God knows what is best for them and they are not thankful for the special and unique ways He has blessed them. They are so caught up in looking at other people they cannot appreciate what God has done in their own lives. They are guilty of coveting.

Explain how this is a mistake and sin. God clearly says in His word, “Thou shalt not covet”. We are not to compare ourselves with other people. We are not to wish we were what they are and we are not to wish we had what they have.

Then make the ropes appear to be the same length. Use this to give the challenge that in the eyes of God everyone is special and everyone is important. In the eyes of God we all have the same opportunity for real success and true happiness. From God’s point of view, we all are very significant people and have reason to be thankful for the unique life He has given us. We should gladly accept God’s will f! or our physical being and circumstance.


The Professor’s Nightmare rope trick is very useful for illustrating many spiritual lessons. It is well worth learning.

Here are some great resources for you if you want to learn more about the Professor’s Nightmare:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s