Thursday, January 31, 2013

An Unexpected Journey

"the tops of the mountains were seen"
Genesis 8:5

Something has happened in my home.  Well, in my life, really.  Something has begun.  And it's really kind of a milestone.  Something I have long thought about, long debated, long intended, is finally happening.

I'm reading J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit.

My older sister has been a fan of Tolkien since we were young.  She read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy numerous times.   Meanwhile, I was busy reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder series numerous times.  And Watership Down.

What?  Never?  Oh, I highly recommend it.

Anyhow, while I never really had any desire to read the Ring series, I always wanted to read The Hobbit.  I love the name, I love the idea of a this little critter living in his hole.  The whole concept is just so... peaceful and pastoral.  Although I know it doesn't stay that way.

But somehow, I just never read it.  All through my childhood, I just never did, and then she moved out, and the book went with her, and I guess I stopped thinking about it. 

Then I started thinking about it again after I had kids.  I have always read to my kids ~ still do, almost every day.  Sometimes it's a way of having them experience some piece of literature that I think should be a part of their education.  Sometimes it's a way of sharing something I love, and getting to experience it with them.

Well, beginning last week, I started reading The Hobbit to my Awesome and Amazing kids.   But unlike most books I read to them,  I'm not doing it for them.  I'm doing it for me.   Because it's high time.

And I could just read it to myself.  They both saw the movie at Christmastime (with my sisters, ironically), and I'm pretty sure they'd both get around to reading the book in their own time.

But I'm reading it to them, not because I want them to experience it, but because I want to experience it, alongside them.  I'm sure I'll see the movie when it comes out on dvd, but I didn't want to pay for a movie ticket.  Besides, I like movies better after I've read the book.

And the beautiful thing is, I can ask them questions.  Having seen the movie, they know the plot, and I can stop and ask questions like, "I forget; where are they right now?"  or "I don't trust this guy; is he bad news?" to which they either tell me the answer, or just say, "Read the book, Mom.  You'll find out."

I've also found myself asking pronunciations more than once.   And even though they've only seen the movie once, they know!

This whole thing is interesting to me for two reasons:  first ~ sometimes, it's all about the incentive.  I've been wanting to read the book for years, but what's finally gotten me to is my desire to share this new enthusiasm of my children.  Apparently I never had a strong enough need to connect with my sister on this topic.  {No offense, B!}  :-)

The other thing is about the idea of reading something that might be tricky.   My favorite kinds of books are non-fiction.  Fiction is okay, but when you get into fantasy, it's one step further, and you can find yourself in the realm of things that impossible or simply unheard of on earth.  So I enjoy it more if I can get my questions answered on the spot, and not have to try to figure out what I don't understand, at the same time as moving ahead on the plot.

Sort of like math.

So, this all got me thinking about reading the Bible.  So here's how it all ties in:  There are books of the Bible that we all avoid.  Or just haven't gotten around to.  Or have started to read more than once but can't seem to get through.  

Incentive.  That's what we need.  Maybe for you it's Revelation.  Or the laws of Leviticus.  Or one of the prophets in the middle.  You need to find your incentive.  Could simply be the knowledge that's waiting for you there.  Or perhaps the something that's applicable to your life.  'Cause that's what's there ~ in any book of the Bible.  He's got them all there for a reason.  And really, that's the best incentive.  The desire to understand the message of the book, and know, in your heart, why it's there. 

But the other thing we need to tackle the books that we're afraid of less interested in, is help.  A teacher, a commentator, a study group... something.  I don't think there's any shame in acknowledging that a specific book isn't our cup of tea, and having someone there to help us interpret, or understand, can be invaluable.   Might be a pastor, might be a teacher, might be an author.   And... it might take time.

Definitely, though, you'll need the Holy Spirit.  By that I mean that no matter who you find to help you understand difficult Scriptures, it will be the Holy Spirit working through them, and in you.  God wants us to understand His Word.  And with effort and perseverance on our part ~ with a little desire, and a little help ~ He'll make that happen. 

~ "A wise man will hear
and increase learning,
And a man of understanding
will attain wise counsel" ~
Proverbs 1:5


  1. I'm the same way regarding War and Peace. I have read a little Dostoevsky but no Tolstoy. I did read Dr. Zhivago when it first came out. There are great gaps in my reading. For example, a little bit of Charles Dickens goes a long way....but I have read every last thing Tolkien ever wrote. The Hobbit is essentially a children's story. Lord of the Rings is the grown-up version. And The Silmarillion is even better.

  2. How about Anna Karenina? That's the only Tolstoy I've read, but I enjoyed it. And I do hope to read The Silmarillion someday!