Monday, April 15, 2013

A Lesson From The Hobbit (the book)

"Beware, for evil is ahead of you"
Exodus 10:10

Okay, let me just start by saying that if you had told me six months ago that I'd do so much blogging about The Hobbit, I would not have believed you.

Unless you are someone I knew very well, and that I trust not to lie to me, in which case I'd be incredulous that such a thing was going to take place, but I would have believed you. 

And if you had told me when I was a child that I'd do so much blogging about The Hobbit, I would have said, "What's a blog?"

Life is funny, isn't it?

I read the book for the first time a few months ago, but I keep thinking about a particular line I read.  It's on page 205 in my copy.  If you have a different copy than the 1981 Houghton Mifflin (80th printing) with my sweetie's signature on the inside front cover, then just know that I'm referring to the chapter called "Inside Information".

The dwarves had, at this point, discovered that the key that Gandalf gave to Thorin was their entrance into the mountain, and they sent Bilbo Baggins, as their burglar, ahead to explore the situation.  Bilbo headed down the tunnel that would lead to the treasure ~ and Smaug the dragon. 

But Bilbo didn't know this.  Yes, he knew they were after a treasure, and yes, he knew the treasure was being guarded by a dragon, but his journey had brought him to one unexpected thing after another (trolls, goblins, giant spiders) so he really didn't know for sure what waited for him down this tunnel. 

But he was pretty sure it was going to be a dragon. 

And this is what Tolkien wrote: "As he went forward (the glow) grew and grew... It was a red light steadily getting redder and redder.  Also, it was now undoubtedly hot in the tunnel... A sound, too, began to throb in his years... This grew to the unmistakable gurgling noise of some vast animal snoring in its sleep down there in the red glow in front of him."

Okay, that was a little context.  Here's the line I keep thinking of:

"It was at this point that Bilbo stopped.  Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did."

The line struck me the moment I read it, and it has come back to me a few times since then.   I keep thinking how true it is.  Saying yes... going forward to something that scares the heck out of us, when we don't even fully know what we're getting into.   Maybe it's something God has called you to do, or be.  Fear of the unknown is a strong fear, and standing in a dark tunnel, hearing unidentifiable noises, it takes a great deal of courage to go forward.

Now let's be honest; Bilbo already had more courage than many of us do.  I know for darn sure I would have preferred to stay in my hole at Bag-End.  So we know Bilbo had courage to spare.   But this is what took the greatest courage of his life.  And then once he has mustered up that determination, he knew his perseverance would see him through to the end of the adventure.

It's a great lesson.  That God can provide us with the courage we need to go forward, when we know not what we are stepping into.

But to me, here's what takes even more courage:  going forward when we know exactly what's ahead.  I'm in that position, myself.  God is asking me to do something that's going to be hard.  And the scary part is, I know how hard it's going to be.  No ignorant bliss here.   And going on from here is the bravest thing I can do.

Sound familiar?  Ever been in that position?  Know who else has?

We can never be thankful enough for what Jesus did for us on the cross.  But the more we understand; the more we empathize with Him, the more thankful we will be.  I think of Him in the garden the night before, praying, knowing what lay before Him, and I recognize courage and strength in a whole new way.  And I feel a little more thankful, and a little more courageous.

~ "Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and of good courage;
do not be afraid, nor be dismayed,
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." ~
Joshua 1:9

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