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 had 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. 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. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something… There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.
I’ve been watching lessons about writing science fiction. One of the chief elements is a quest, and another is conflict development during the quest. As you write the story, you gradually increase difficulties, resistance, and opposition until the danger and darkness peak and assure doom. The opposition against the enemies around and within the heroes becomes so bad that they appear impossible to overcome.
In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo (a very unlikely hero) must triumph over insurmountable odds to get the ring to the fires of Mordor. Frodo was a happy hobbit accustomed to eating multiple meals and living a leisurely life in the Shire. He was thrust into a story that he didn’t plan on being in. His new role required courage—and he wasn’t sure he wanted to play the part.
It wasn’t until he awakened to the true danger and nature of the threat, that Frodo became serious about his quest. Adventure turned to fear when he first encountered the Ringwraiths and discovered evil was on its way to his beloved Shire. There was an enemy out there, and living in the Shire wasn’t going to make the problem go away, and it might not even be an option.
Frodo was driven by events to participate in the plot.
Most of the time that is what happens to us. We are moseying along, minding our own business, trying to make the most out of our lives, and then suddenly, darkness rides in like a wraith and disrupts our world and heart. At that point, we have two options, and I want neither. The first choice is to surrender and yield to the shadows and death; the second is to fight. Either way, we’re in the tale—like it or not.
Sometimes I surrender to the dark fog, but I really want to find the courage to fight back. I’m tired of the darkness devouring people, cultures, and our children. I’m tired of it devouring me! There are incomprehensible things at stake when I yield to the mist and don’t fight for the cause of good in prayer, action, and faith.
Ringwraiths and Orcs appear at different times and forms in our lives. Sometimes they come as despair over a sick family member, and we are tempted to not trust in the goodness of God. Occasionally, they will appear as broken relationships—into which we must obey Christ to forgive or pursue the offended, or offer them to God for his love, care, discipline, and wisdom. The option is hatred and bitterness in our hearts.
A particularly ugly Orc is a recurring sin—we look at it and it seems unconquerable. But Christ covers sin in his blood and empowers us to overcome—even if it begins as a slow crawl out of a deep hole. The big question is: will I believe God and fight using his weapons, or will I bring out my personal stash of weapons—a sharp tongue, an unforgiving spirit, my own pathetic strength, and a self-righteous heart?
Another option would be to cover myself in a hidey-hole somewhere, waiting to be captured and taken back to the kingdom of darkness? Not really an option.
The “Orcs” mentioned above are just some of the personal battles we face. There are others—like the battle for holiness in a culture determined to undermine everything holy and good. The battle against human trafficking and the fight to see others set free from alcohol, poverty, or drug abuse are others. I have a dear sister-in-law who fights against injustice to animals. Another one has helped in the foster system. I write (and do other things). I have other friends who go yearly into some dark corner of the world as a temporary missionary and some who have entered the Arts to impact that part of the culture. Another friend is so passionate about children that she weeps quickly at the thought of their lost souls and the culture’s ambivalent attitude toward children.
Like it or not—this is the scene and story we are in—21st Century Battlefield Earth. There are Orcs and Ringwraiths all around us. And we, as believers, have been targeted as the enemy of darkness. His roving eye is upon us in our quest, and he goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (I Peter 5)
We begin our fight by remembering to whom we belong. We are aliens, but we are children of God—chosen to be his. We are in him, and through him we gain strength to oppose the things that rise up against us and our families and world.
But you are not alone, either. You have the Holy Trinity committed to your success in battle: a loving all-powerful Father; a gentle, warrior-Savior and intercessor; and a Divine Spirit living and dwelling within you. You also have the Church, which is meant to encourage you and bind up your wounds when you have been injured.
O God, help us to know that in YOU we have what we need for the battle. That You, our dear Father, have equipped us and will continue to be present at every turn, in every battle. When the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy, help us to fight the good fight of faith by resisting and by wielding the Sword of the Spirit. Keep us from fear, and help us find such a delight in you and in your merciful salvation and grace, that to fight for YOUR kingdom in our hearts and in our world is the only thing that makes sense. YOU alone are worthy! YOU alone are holy! All glory to your matchless name.
You are always The Hero, our Savior. Help us to be small heroes in the scenes and stories we are living.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. I Peter 5:6-11 (NASB)
This blog was inspired by Waking the Dead by John Eldridge.