I just finished reading probably the greatest books I've ever picked up (sorry Harry Potter, but you've been put to shame). J.R.R. Tolkien, in all his literary genius, has created a masterpiece in 'The Lord of the Rings' and it's been something worth reflecting on. Here are some thoughts, here are some reflections. They're random, center justified, and open for feedback, comments, agreement, or 'I've been there too.' Enjoy.
Isn't it awesome that the third and final part of the Lord of the Rings is called 'The Return of the King?' The book is largely the tale of a ring, the hobbit that is entrusted to deliver it to its doom, and the team that is entrusted to guide him. Yet, the end is not just about the ending of evil. It's about the RETURN of a king. The REIGN of good. The destroying of evil and the infinite replacing it with goodness and beauty. That's what Jesus is coming back to do: not just to rid the world of sin. But to restore Eden and to make the world as he created it to be.
Gandalf, the White Wizard, says repeatedly that there will always be evil, something new and wicked will always come up, but we must do what we can do to destroy it in our time. When the kings and warriors are discussing the next move to Mordor, Gandalf reminds them: that it is not their job to master all the evils of the world, but to alleviate and uproot the evils of the present age they live in. Couldn't we say the same for us? There will always be evil: since the fall, when sin was introduced. We live in a fallen world with fallen bodies and we anxiously await the return when Jesus restores Eden. In the meantime, we live for Jesus NOW by living out Ephesians 6:10-20, putting on that armor, and defeating satan on a small scale. On the only scale we know how. Through confession, dependency, honesty, repentance, diligence, prayer, accountability, faith, a right perspective of Jesus and satan, hope, Scripture memory, humility, confrontation, and truth.
I can't stop thinking about one thing Frodo said to Sam, from one hobbit to another. He said, "You were meant to be solid and whole, and you will be." You were meant to be SOLID and WHOLE, and you will be! I go through phases when the awareness of sin is heightened and the pain I've gone through comes back to rear its ugly head. Shame becomes my most frequent and unwanted thoughts. When that happens, I dwell on heaven. I hope that's the right response. I think about what it will be like and I think on all of us worshipping TOGETHER. I think of no hurt, pain, sin: just love. I think of us being SOLID and WHOLE.
And the only way I get to think on heaven is because of Christ's death,which has given us the chance to be reconciled and solid and whole for eternity.
Thinking on Frodo and Sam reminds me of my neighbor and mother of five who just found out her newborn baby girl has some hearing loss. And you know what she told me after learning that? She said, "These are our fallen bodies. It comes with being sinful and fallen. We're human. And we'll one day be in our resurrected bodies with Christ."
What a perspective! That comes from someone who knows Who's saved her and her children and who knows what's coming. Who knows what's been promised her. Someone who knows the significance of the Gospel. I want a response like that.
After the ring is destroyed and Sam and Frodo are rescued, they are brought to the camp of the king and there they are honored. They are led through a great host of soldiers and brought to the king's throne. And there the king bows before them, offers them the throne, and leads the hosts in praise for their journey and job well done. Reading that reminds me of Luke 12:8 which says that whoever acknowledges Christ before men, He will also acknowledge us before the angels of God. He will present us holy. When this war we've entered in against satan and His powers is eliminated as Jesus returns, we will stand with our King. I can't stop thinking how amazing that will be.
Solid and whole. Acknowledged and presented. Together with worshipping hearts.
Get me there now.
I have this continuous realization over and over again, so bear with me because I never grow tired of understanding it. When I am sad or lonely or uncertain or sinful.. and then begin to feel happier or more assured or complete, the answer CANNOT be because of something that has happened to me or something that I have done. It cannot be because I got into Gordon Conwell or because I serve at Advance or because I hold a record for home runs.
It HAS to be because Christ died on the cross for me. That has to be the answer.
I overheard a conversation today between two people. One was saying that they always felt like they needed to do more and never felt like they were doing enough. And the other responded: "Go on more mission trips."
No people that is NOT the answer!!
Take it from a recovering I-never-do-enough addict.
Missions trips are great and we are called to serve others. That is so biblically clear. But that act itself cannot save you or heal you or make you happy. It is Christ in you that will save you. That act and any other act can represent what Christ has done in you and how He is faithful to work through you. It shows your life change, the ways you've put on the new life. But Christ has to be your only fulfillment and satisfaction and the rest will fall into place. (When I say 'you' here, I really mean me. I need to hear it every chance I get. This truth is so beautiful).
I've been listening to Sara Groves the whole time I've been writing this. 'Less Like Scars' is ah-mazing. She sings of a process, how lessons are hard, healing is sometimes subtle, but how things are redeemed. Over time, things seem
Less like tearing more like building • Less like captive more like willing • Less like breakdown more like surrender • Less like haunting more like remember
And in your hands the pain and hurt • look less like scars • And more like character
I love that!
I feel like I'm getting there. This hurt, pain, and these memories will seem less captive, haunting, tearing with each new day, with each new obedience, and will be the key components of what has pushed me to Christ's work on the cross.
The King is reigning on His throne in heaven and He will reign on Earth.
His Kingdom is coming in all its fullness when Christ returns. You ready?