Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Road Goes Ever On...

"The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
...And I must follow, if I can,  
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.  

And whither then? I cannot say."
JR Tolkien
This post is in honor of the producer and directors of the new Hobbit movie who have FINALLY settled on cast members! The movie is slated to come out, hopefully, some time in this next century. Yay boys!

I thought it was the perfect occasion to post one of my favorite excerpts from Tolkien's writings and this lovely illustration by John Howe. Truly masterful. Both of them. 

They evoke a perfect sense of "journey and expectation"; of heading out one's door and not knowing what is beyond–but knowing possibilities abound and the destination is priceless.

Something about those written words strike a deep chord within me. It grabs my attention and fills me with an almost indescribable sense of wistfulness.

A journey awaits... This is an appealing component of many of our big epic movies (including LOTR which is where this verse comes from)

The main character or characters have a road set before them that they must travel down and one that will require them to grow and inevitably change from who they were at the start.

I have to admit, my initial feeling at seeing the challenge of that wide open door is one of fear. 

I'm afraid

Afraid that if I move to slowly, if I hesitate at all, I will be left behind. Left behind to sit on a bench near the window and wistfully gaze out with my nose pressed up against the window pane...only able to imagine what it would have been like had I taken the plunge and forged ahead through that door with abandon. 

Afraid that I have not enough of the right talents or skills that I think in my head are required for such a journey.

These fears are further reinforced by pesky thoughts: 
What if I head down the wrong road? 
What if I leave something I needed behind and am now unprepared? 
What if I find that I have wasted my time in the end because I have accomplished nothing of what I wanted when I set out?
What if I don't have enough money?
What if I get stepped on? I am pretty short, you know...
What if...what ifs... 
These thoughts are crippling. 

Even lethal. 

They must be pushed aside or you and I will do nothing. We will accomplish zilch.

Big fat zero, friends.

It's risky, true. But I'm willing to bet, God knows all about those fears and will be right there beside me to cheer me on. 

Not alone. Never.

So then I'm brought to the realization that, despite those fears, I am very eager to attempt it after all. 
This journey, I imagine, will probably involve a considerable amount of time, distance, and energy, but I’m up for it. 

Hey, untold adventures awaiting here people...

I thrill at the sense of excitement that comes with the knowledge of being part of something noble and important; because it must be all of those things if it is a true adventure, right? Bigger than myself and everything I've know...big enough to overcome the mundaneness of everyday life.

And the destination? 

Ahh...Once the end has been reached, it will be exquisite to behold–and fully worth all the trials and hardships faced. It is all that is splendid and unparalleled in beauty, love, and fulfillment. An end that really isn't an end, after all, but just the start of a new and exciting beginning.

Yessss… sign me up! This girl is ready to go! 

I've stuffed my bag with everything I could fit and now it’s lumpy and oversized and waiting for me by the door. I even remembered to bring my toothbrush. 

Normal everyday life, goodbye.

But wait now...This kind of existence–this adventure story, it’s just based on a fairytale, right?--you ask.  

Hmmm....Heroic adventures?? Yeah...the only great exploits I seem destined to accomplish in life is to escort Granny Louhoo, with her bag of fifty medicine bottles and toe pain that has lasted 6 months, to the hospital by 6:30 pm so she can get back home in time to watch Jeopardy by 8! 

Lord, save me.

Then it dawned on me... 

Something that God has painstakingly tried to show me, over and over again, throughout my life, and believe me, my brain has stubbornly persisted in refusing to get it.

The road, Tolkien is talking about does in fact represent life--everyday life. 

You and I are part of a grand story that is unfolding before our very eyes. It’s hugely epic! Make no mistake about it. 

Whether you are a street sweeper (not sure if we still have those), a mother of three, the CEO of some big corporation, administrator for a huge charity, or a big time evangelist... 

All lives, equally epic.

Even though, many times, life can feel dull as tombs, and we feel lost in the monotony of routine, God is actually trying to get us to see that it is exactly there that He is looking for us to overcome huge things. And to glean wisdom, and growth in Him. To come to know Him deeper, more relationally intimate, as we trek through each day.

God has orchestrated the events in our lives, big and small, to help perfect and refine us, along the way to the conclusion of our story. 

He is intensely interested in molding and shaping our characters for they will follow us into, and throughout, all of eternity. 

So I am coming to realize, my goal and ((yours too!!)) should be to find out what He is calling each one of us to do with our lives and to be faithful to do just that. And nothing more...nothing less.

 Day at a time, step by step. 

Are we being faithful with how we spend our time? 
Are we living our lives with integrity, even when no one else is watching? 
Are we pursuing our relationship with Him as hard as we pursue entertainment and pleasures for our flesh? 
Are we desiring to help those He is concerned with?--the poor, the orphan and widow? 
Will we be willing to sacrifice our own valuable time when a friend is in need and be able to drop everything to listen to them, and bring encouragement?

These are huge challenges, to be sure. Epic

And it's entirely possible we may never go beyond a 30 mile radius from our home.

But the thing is...we have to get out that front door. 

Because if we are desiring to do something big with our lives, for's going to involve people. 

And unless you live at the mall, they're not going to be lounging around your living room.

The Road is waiting for you and I. Jesus has promised we wouldn’t have to travel alone but that He would accompany us and assist us! 

My backpack feels lighter already :) 

The challenge I leave us with:
To live life with an attitude of perseverance and faith in the knowledge that God has an epic plan for our lives. We need to find out what He wants us to do, and do just that, and nothing more...Nothing less.

And make no doubt about it...we can rest content in the knowledge that He will see our story through to completion. 

We just need to throw away those fears and let Him lead us out through that 
wide open door.

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