A Lesson in Perseverance from LOTR

When Frodo began his journey in The Fellowship of the Ring, it was a journey he never would have anticipated taking, one he fought against traveling. Yet he went, and he was thrust from his quiet, safe world into a world of adventure and danger.

He and the fellowship traveling alongside him fought against orks and ring wraiths and giant spiders and mountains and fire and Smeagol and more! Many times Frodo wanted to give up, but he kept pressing on. Perhaps the greatest obstacle he faced was the temptation of putting on the ring, a ring that would make him invisible. How easily he could slip past the enemies with it on! But the ring that could have saved him, also attracted evil. In spite of it all, he kept moving forward. And through it all, he was never alone.

Throughout our lives each of us has likely ventured out on an unknown and unplanned journey, down a road we never intended to take. Maybe it’s family changes: a death, divorce, unplanned pregnancy. Or maybe it’s career changes with layoffs or difficult co-workers. For writers, some have found success with little effort, while others fight for every inch gained.

Life is seldom easy, but worthwhile journeys rarely travel straight, paved roads. And when we set our eyes on the goal God set for us, we’ll never be alone.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12 – 14

The Ring of Temptation

Temptation. We have all suffered from it. J.R.R. Tolkien knew this when he wrote the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Tolkien didn’t hide it or prettify it. He births it way back in the Hobbit with the ring Bilbo finds while being a Burglar for the Dwarfs who are trying to reclaim their mountain from the fire-breathing dragon Smaug. The hobbit uses it to his advantage and is able to thwart the dragon and keep the Thorin from leading his own downfall. Years later, though, Bilbo scares himself when the ring’s influence brings out his ugly side before he gives it up to his heir, Frodo, proving he is not unaffected by the ring’s power after all. (Galadriel photo courtesy of Stack Overflow.)

Smeagol and the ring
Photo courtesy of theonering.net.

The Ring is the central plot point for the LOTR. As with any temptation it is fairly innocuous in its introduction in The Hobbit, being only a magical ring of invisibility, first for Smeagol, then for Bilbo. Smeagol, however, is a grotesque figure with a personality disorder who covets the ring. It is revealed throughout the books that Smeagol had been immediately drawn to the ring, so much so that he killed his fishing companion to get it, thus becoming a twisted version of the hobbit he originally was.

In Tolkien’s tales, the One Ring was forged by the Dark Lord Sauron in the fires of Mount Doom to gain dominance over Middle Earth. Suaron aided the Elven smiths in creating the rings, nine for men, seven for the dwarves, and three for the elves. These rings had no power, however, so Sauron created one ring in which he placed his own power in so it would have power over the others.

Boromir tempted
Photo courtesy of Angelfire

Corruption was the ultimate end of those who wore the ring. As with any temptation, the longer it has hold of you, the more it corrupts you. The ring was powerful enough to tempt both Boromir and Faramir who only wanted to redeem their lands to their former glory and possibly impress their dad, the King. However, the evil that inhabited the ring in the form of Sauron’s own magic would’ve corrupted even the most  noble purposes. Samwise himself, my biggest hero of the series, wondered what a grand garden he could create if he were to use the ring to his own benefit.

In the end it was only due to Smeagol’s selfish desire to get the ring back from Frodo, who was under the ring’s influence, that it was indeed destroyed in the fire of Mount Doom. Frodo returned home to the Shire, but he was never the same. He couldn’t escape the pain from his wounds and the inner scars from having been a Ring Bearer for so long.  Frodo heads to the Undying Lands (an Elven form of Heaven) with Bilbo, the Elves, and Gandalf.

Temptation can be innocuous or noble at times. We can find ways to justify giving into these fine reasons, but in the end all temptation does is bring destruction to those who continue to court it. And even in some cases, if we are able to get out from beneath the influence of temptation, we suffer the recourse from having courted it in the first place.