Kim and the boys are at a basketball tournament in North Carolina this week. So, to fill the silence of a too-quiet house, I have been watching the Lord of the Rings movies again. On the surface, the plot sounds fairly simple and straightforward. There is an evil ring that must be destroyed. Frodo and his friends must take the ring to Mordor and throw it in the fires of a mountain to be unmade. Simple enough. However, the actual journey is full of unexpected twists and turns. Pathways are blocked, enemies are discovered, and friends are separated. Yet the journey continues. And, in the end, despite all of the obstacles the goal is accomplished: the ring is destroyed and evil is vanquished from Middle Earth.
What is appealing about the Lord of the Rings books and movies is how they parallel the reality of everyday life. On the surface, life seems fairly simple. Yet, as we journey through life we encounter twists and turns and challenges we never saw coming. However, like Frodo we have the comfort and companionship of friends and family who encourage us and strengthen us to keep going. For Christians, we also have the promise that not just friends, but God himself is ever-present with us, living in us by the Holy Spirit. And God promises not just to walk with us, but to guide us, protect us, and lead us victoriously to fulfill the purpose he has for our lives!
Lord of the Rings may not be your cup of tea, but I hope you see the encouragement that stories like it offer. Despite the unexpected challenges of life, there are many, many joys. There is also the hope that the challenges will be overcome and victory will be ours because we never walk alone! Immanuel – God with us – is present every step of the way, from beginning to victorious end!