A Battle to the Death

“You will be the fellowship of the ring.” Lord Elrond commissions the nine on their journey to destroy the ‘one ring’. I love the scene set in Rivendel where the leaders, adventurers, travellers of the lands are caught up in heated, fear-filled, discussion about who should take the ring to Mordor and how, and little Frodo simply says, “I will take it.” A hush falls and he somewhat bashfully admits “though I do not know the way”. Various representatives then step up to guide, protect and accompany Frodo on his quest.

There begins this epic journey, made up of a myriad of journeys but with one theme running through them all: what does it mean to face and do battle with the part that longs to be the centre of the universe, that longs for power, pleasure, success and comfort? The narrative is consistently that through the death of that part, life in all its fullness emerges in a plethora of forms and guises. It’s Lady Galadriel who says beautifully “even the smallest person can change the course of history.” For every battle fought physically on the journey, it was first won or lost in each players heart. As each member fights this battle in their own lives and choices, the fellowship strengthens until the final stand when Aragorn’s words from beginning become the heart cry of each one “if by my life or my death I can protect you”. Individually and now as a matured fellowship they serve a purpose and a narrative far greater than themselves; it was never about size or prowess but the courage to die to self, to keep hope alive and to ‘decide (for honour and truth) what to do with the time given’ to them… and even the smallest of us can do that.

I wonder if each one of us in on an epic journey to die to self, God has given us himself and a ‘fellowship’ to keep us company and protect us on our quest. And in turn we are the ‘fellowship’ for others, to keep them company and watch their backs. As we keep going, with nearly every step Hope rises and Life comes, reminding us of our purpose. None of us can do this without God’s Spirit, but the battle to the death of self for the sake of a cause far greater than us, is a hard one and requires a commitment to keep choosing what to do with the time given to us.

So, as I get ready to take on another week, I take fresh courage and renew my commitment to fight my battle to the death of self for the sake of my Lord, my King, my Father and my God, and then I pray, ‘Holy Spirit, Help me to do this all in your strength and not my own.’

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Giving it up with Frodo

“I wish the ring hadn’t come to me. I wish that none of this had happened.” “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” Young Frodo talking with his mentor, Gandalf, at the start of his epic journey to destroy the ‘one ring’.

I am having a weekend off after what has been a rough two weeks; I have chosen to spend some time watching the film adaptations of Tolkein’s trilogy. To be honest I chose to watch them simply because I enjoy them and I wanted to – a bit of nice self indulgence! I guess I forgot why I love the story so much.

This week my weariness and crankiness reached new heights to the point at which I just wanted to give up. I didn’t want to work so hard any more, I wanted to take a rest and put my feet up, and most importantly remove myself from anyone close enough to cause me pain or be pained my me. If I’m honest I was feeling a bit sorry for myself! I felt a bit like Frodo in this scene – I wish my life was different right now “I wish the ring hadn’t come to me”. I feel sorry for Frodo at this point – he’s only two thirds of the way through the first volume and there’s another two to go before his journey ends! I am so glad he listened to Gandalf and we have the great journey to celebrate. Do you take courage from Gandalf’s words? I find it fascinating that although he basically says ‘don’t feel so sorry for yourself, get on with the job and as well as you can, give it your best shot!’, I feel like getting back up on my feet and saying ‘bring it on!’.

When I reach my give up line, I don’t want people around me to say ‘there, there, you’ve given it a good go, no one’s going to blame you for stopping now, you deserve a break’. No! I want to be reminded of the spirit within me, created before the world began and now one with God’s own Spirit. Reminded of the part of me that knows I live to make my God smile and because of that my existence counts. Please give me some cool water, tend to my wounds and if necessary take me to the healing house, but remember and please remind me that the journey and calling is mine by gift, and all I have to decide is what to do with it. Believe in God’s work within me and I will find courage and fresh hope once again.