We were watching The Two Towers last night, and I cried. I don’t think crying in that movie is uncommon, especially for my fellow women, but last night was different. I didn’t cry for Frodo and Sam, I cried for myself. My tears were for this real world, not for Middle-Earth. I was the one who said, “I can’t do this, Sam.” It wasn’t Frodo who was wavering and wondering if the end really could be happy, it was me. It was my weak faith I saw on that television, not Tolkien’s magical universe.
There are a lot of comparisons we could make between Lord of the Rings and reality, but last night, the glaringly obvious one I saw was how this was a story paralleling our own of growing up in a fallen world.
Our childhoods are the Shire, safe and warm. Bright with colors and full of turmoil, but not the life-or-death type of turmoil, the don’t-let-the-Sackville-Baggins-get-the-spoons sort of turmoil. Fireworks depicting real dragons and erupting into a lighthearted display of colors were the closest thing to peril and the worst consequence for failure was being forced to do dishes at the biggest party in the history of your hometown.
Our teen years are when we realize that there’s more going on in this world than the happenings of our hobbit hole. We learn about this ring of power, seeking to destroy us. We see the need for ordinary heroes and we are eager to pack our bags, follow the old man’s advice, and get that evil out of our safe haven. We think a little journey to amend what is wrong will suffice and we throw ourselves into it as if it’s just like an adventure we read about in all our books. Our friends are with us, we’re all excited, the adrenaline is pumping, and we are blissfully blind to our naivety. We’ll go save the world–or at least the Shire–and then come home to live out the remainder of our lives with Rosie, pints, and spoon inheritance kerfuffle’s.
But then it all changes.
We soon realize that to work against this evil, it will require a deeper level of commitment, a cost. It won’t be a small detour from comfort, but an extended amount of time. Perhaps even some injury and serious danger. We’re all Frodo. Weak, tired, ignorant, and yet horribly aware that we cannot look away. We must press on. If not us, then who?
But the fight is hard. And rather than becoming more and more like a hero ourselves, we become the one needing a hero. We realize that time and the turn of events required to hold on to what is right are destroying us. We reach this point of wondering if it’s even worth it. We’re tired, hurt, and the world seems to be going up in flames around us, despite our effort to save it. We fall back on the ground after an outburst of desperation and we weakly grasp for the strength necessary to keep going.
But we can’t find it anymore.
We utter with Frodo, “I can’t do this, Sam.”
Sam knows though. He sees the effect of this fallen and broken world better than even Frodo does, better than we do.
“It’s all wrong
By rights we shouldn’t even be here.
But we are.“
It is all wrong, you know. Creation isn’t in the state it was designed to be. Humanity was made to dwell with God, and we have rebelled and become His enemies. Death is an unwelcome guest in each life, and it’s not okay. This world isn’t okay. We know that, and deep down we all realize we aren’t okay either. This wasn’t how it was suppose to be. This isn’t how it’s going to stay.
“It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo.
The ones that really mattered.
Full of darkness and danger they were,
and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end.
Because how could the end be happy.
How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened.
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.
Even darkness must pass.
A new day will come.
And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.
Those were the stories that stayed with you.
That meant something.
Even if you were too small to understand why.“
Dear friend, when we are in Christ, we do indeed grow up in a world of darkness and full of danger. It’s true that sometimes when we look around at the horror of sin raging around us, we wonder how the end could really be happy. We beg to know how after so much destruction and gut wrenching realities, the world could go back to the way it was. But as dark as it is, as scary as it feels, and as much as it hurts, for those of us who have believed on the Lord Jesus and come to know His perfect peace, growing up in this world is a passing thing. A mere shadow. Even your worst nightmare will end. The sorrow that brings you to your knees will pass. Morning light will break and you’ll love the light all the more for it’s years of absence.
Let the story of Frodo and Sam stick with you, even if you don’t understand why you should. Even if you feel too small to grasp what is really happening, or think it doesn’t have anything to do with your life.
“But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand.
I know now.
Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t.
Because they were holding on to something.“
Sam knows. He understands what we and Frodo long to know.
What are we holding onto, Sam?
“That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.“
The journey is long, it’s true. It’s hard, I know. Some moments we want to give up and go back to the Shire, where the reality of sin and brokenness was a far off thought, one we didn’t have to carry each day, and sleep with each night. But while we can’t go back, we can keep going, keep fighting, keep trusting, and keep holding on to the fact that there is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for. We must. We have something the world desperately needs to hear, no matter what it costs us.
So, dear me and dear friend: don’t give up. Get up in the morning, despite the weariness and the darkness, however strong they may presently feel, and do what He called you to do. Hold fast to the good He is, and share Him with the world that is perishing. It’s worth it. He is worth it. The new day that will soon dawn is worth it.
It’s like in all the great stories, Mr. Frodo. It’s worth fighting for.