Lessons from The Lord of the Rings

Lord of the Rings 03-25-15

The Lord of the Rings is a classic. So many life lessons can be learned from examining just one of the many characters in these novels.

The greatest lesson I have learned is that through Jesus, I’m capable of more than I thought. Just like Frodo, God calls us to take many journeys. Journeys full of danger, pain, sorrow, and maybe even death. Most often we don’t feel qualified or capable. Like Frodo, parts of the journey become too hard to bear and we contemplate bailing.

The sacrifice is too much and sorrow surrounds us immobilizing our efforts. We cry, we ask God why He chose us for such a task. We ask Him to pass this cup from us because we can’t possibly see the outcome as favorable. We realize we may not survive. But He speaks across our hearts whispering to do His will and go with Him. He promises to be with us and carry our burden when it’s too much to bear.

He is our Samwise Gamgee.

And though we cannot see it, this journey will create hope and healing for the great many people. Many will come to Christ through Jesus if we accept the journey from Him. So don’t be afraid to be used. Be honored and know that whatever journey God calls you take, He will make you capable through Jesus.

Question: Has God sent you on a journey you’ve been reluctant to accept?

The Return of the King

I have a shameful secret for a voracious reader to admit: I saw movie before I read the book.

I know, I know!

But, after seeing the The Fellowship of the Ring on December 26, 2001, I was absolutely in love with the story. I immediately went home with my family and dug out my dad’s old copy of the trilogy and devoured all three books during my Christmas break from college. By the time I went back to school, I was a huge fan of Tolkien and this wonderful, mysterious, beautiful, and dangerous place he called Middle Earth.

Me and Frodo in my college dorm room.

Me and Frodo in my college dorm room.

So much so, in fact, that I was given a card-board cut out of Frodo Baggins for my 19th birthday that has been on many adventures with me (including living in my dorm room for three and a half years, going to a semi-formal dance, starring in my first student film, and now currently residing in my office). I bought the four-disc extended editions when they were released and held LOTR parties with my friends. I named a plant I was raising Legolas. I even took a Tolkien class in college devoted to studying his works, including “The Silmarillion.”

Me and my college roommate, Ruth, took Frodo to a dance.
Me and my college roommate, Ruth, took Frodo to a dance.

But what is it that drew me to The Lord of the Rings?

You know, I can’t really say it is one thing. There are so many facets to the story, so many lessons and virtues to be mined and polished from, what is essentially, a story of good versus evil. One of my favorite books related to this is “Tolkien’s Ordinary Virtues” by Mark Eddy Smith.

SamwiseAlthough there are many heroes in LOTR, my hands down favorite character is Samwise Gamgee, Frodo’s loyal gardener, trusted friend, and most staunch ally. I love Sam’s devotion, his optimism, his servant’s heart, his willingness to sacrifice everything, even his life, not in the name of saving the world from the destructive power of the Ring, but rather in the name of his friendship with Frodo. The scene of him carrying his master up Mount Doom because Frodo is too weary to continue the quest brings a tear to my eye.

But one of my most favorite passages in the whole of the story is just a small scene, hardly even a paragraph long, and not even worth a few seconds in The Return of the King film. Frodo and Sam are trekking across the wasteland that is Mordor, exhausted, nearly out of food and water, and practically defeated by the growing shadow of the Ring. Frodo falls into a weary sleep, while Sam keeps watch.

He peers out from their hiding place, the sky dark with clouds, menace, and the shadow of Sauron.

“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tower high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”

This, to me, is the heart of The Lord of the Rings. That goodness and light are beyond evil; that no matter how dark and awful things on earth are, God and His Heaven will triumph over all. God has always been, always was, and always will be be.

The journey may be fraught with danger, despair, perhaps even death. Frodo and Sam make it out alive but with great personal sacrifice. But Sam knew that in the end, even if he and Frodo failed, or they were killed, that good would win in the end. Just as Aragorn reclaimed his throne, our King Jesus will return in the end, to wage war on evil and triumph in the end.

“Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity.” Psalm 93:2.

Lessons from the Lord of the Rings and Other Things

Some people call say that Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings  is Hollywood’s greatest achievement. We’re not hear to defend that claim, even though the trilogy amassed an unbelievable 30 Academy Award nominations with 13 wins. What we Inkspers want to discuss, however, is what this trilogy and other works of fantasy have taught us.

Even if you aren’t a Lord of the Rings (LOTR) fan, we hope you’ll journey with us into the fantasy world, where masters like Tolkien and C.S. Lewis have gifted us with great stories, memorable characters, and often a few life lessons along the way.

Starting things off

Sssh, don’t tell Dawn, but I’ve been reading science fiction and fantasy all my life. I know, I know. You’re thinking, “But Lorna, you write historical romances.” The truth is I have this theory that most historical writers like sci fi/ fantasy, too. We all just want to be some TIME else.

As a closet fantasy love, I’ve ready Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings more than once, so when the movie came out, I prayed it would live up to the books. For once, I wasn’t disappointed. Sure, a few of my favorite parts had been left out, but I knew there was no way for a movie to cover everything. The attention to detail, the scope, the music, the scenery–all made for a breathtaking experience.

Still, what riveted me was one thought: Evil will triumph when good men do nothing. I don’t remember when I first heard this statement, but I felt like the LOTR trilogy made the concept come alive. The fate of the world fell on one hobbit, Frodo, and his friends. Had the given up, evil would win.

And the same is true for us today, but do you, like me, sometimes want to give up when you see the evil in the world? The unrest in Ferguson, Missouri? The beheadings ISIS has done? Children being murdered by their parents? Bullying in schools?

It all seems overwhelming, and I’m tempted to think what can I do? Then, I remember,”Evil will triumph when good men (or women) do nothing.”

Earlier this year, the son of a good friend of mine was attacked near his college campus. He was beaten so badly that he received what doctors called “the adult equivalent of shaken baby syndrome.” When my friend first saw her son in the ER, she could see a boot print left on his face.

A talented art major, his whole life has changed in the blink of an eye. His whole family’s has. The experience left us all feeling hopeless, but we did do something. We prayed. We prayed for the young man and that his perpetrators would be caught.

He’s making slow progress and at least one of the men responsible have been arrested.

When it looks like evil is winning, I try to remind myself that Jesus has conquered all, and I know I can do something. I can be obedient to what God has called me to do. I can love like Jesus loved. I can speak out for those who have no voice, and most of all, I can take all situations, near and far, before the Father.