Tag Archives: J. R. R. Tolkien

Bilbo’s Pity

Read Matthew 7:1-5

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17)

bilbogollumOne of my favorite books, or series of books, is The Lord of the Rings. In the books, the main character, a hobbit named Frodo Baggins, wonders why in the world his Uncle Bilbo didn’t kill the hideous and treacherous Gollum when he had the chance. This creature was a shadow of its former self, something to be abhorred and disgusted by…something EVIL. Frodo, just can’t understand what could possibly have caused his uncle to let this creature remain alive.

In his prequel to The Lord of the Rings, entitled “The Hobbit”, J.R.R. Tolkien tells the tale of Frodo’s Uncle Bilbo Baggins’ adventure that leads him to Gollum’s lair and beyond. Having fallen into the cave that Gollum lives in, Bilbo finds himself in a game of wits. If Bilbo can outsmart Gollum, then the creature must show him the way out of the cave; however, if Gollum can outsmart Bilbo, then the creature gets to have him for lunch…literally!

Needless to say, Bilbo outsmarts Gollum and, having stolen Gollum’s magical ring (anyone who knows the story knows what that ring is), Bilbo wears it and is able to turn invisible and escape the enraged. Gollum searches everywhere for the Hobbit, unaware that Bilbo is following him, and the creature leads him right to the exit of the cave. At that point, Bilbo has a chance to kill this nasty, treacherous creature.

In fact, he almost does; yet, with his sword lifted high and ready to strike, Bilbo looks into Gollum’s eyes. In those eyes, he doesn’t see treachery nor does he see EVIL; rather, he sees desperation, he sees fear, he sees hopelessness. While at first, Bilbo was ready to sever Gollum’s head from its body, he could no longer carry that action through. For whatever reason, deep in his heart, Bilbo felt sorry for Gollum and showed him mercy.

“It’s a pity Bilbo didn’t kill [Gollum] when he had the chance,” Frodo lamented.

“Pity?” Gandalf asked quizzically. “It was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Many that live deserve death, and some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do no be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or for evil before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.”

And so the words of the wise wizard, Gandalf, echoes from the pages of a novel into our ears. We often judge so quickly, laying down judgment as if it is ours to lay down. It is true that many that live deserve death and that some that die deserve life, but can we give it to them? Are we the ones who hold the keys to life and death? Are we the ones, who are ourselves as flawed and imperfect as the next person, who should be passing judgment on others?

Jesus has called us to a higher standard than judgment. Where the world judges, God calls us to forgive. Where the world enforces revenge, retribution and punitive justice, God calls us to show compassion and mercy. God calls us toward distributive and restorative justice. The challenge today is for us to begin to lay down our judgment at the foot of the cross and to pick up Micah 6:8 as our daily meditation. Then we will know what it means to be bearers of the Good News that God comes through Christ in order to SAVE, not to destroy.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

Those who judge lay judgment upon themselves.

PRAYER

Lord, help me to remain judgment free. I trust that you are working in all people, including me, and I leave judgment in your hands. Amen.

Mount Doom

Read Esther 4:1-17; 5:1-8; 7:1-10

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

frodo-bagginsOne of my favorite books and films is The Lord of the Rings trilogy, written by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Within its pages is a tale of a little hobbit by the name of Frodo Baggins who has a mysterious and dark ring come into his possession. It was not his wish nor his choice to possess the ring; rather, it was forced into his possession by his friend, the wizard, Gandalf the Gray.

Gandalf did not force Frodo to take the ring because he had malice in his heart toward Frodo, he did it because Frodo’s uncle was being slowly and surely corrupted by the ring and the only one Gandalf could trust was this little hobbit boy.  This turn of events thrusts Frodo and Gandalf into a perilous race against time to take the ring to Mt. Doom, where it was created, and to throw it into the fires of the mountain in order to permanently destroy it and the evil that is bound within it.

At one point in the journey, Frodo  (who is exhausted, worn down, beaten up and discouraged) looks up at Gandalf the Gray and says, “I wish none of this had happened.”  Gandalf certainly understands the boys wish, and there is no doubt that he, himself, wished that none of those events had happened. But they had happened, and nothing would change that.  Gandalf looked down to where Frodo was sitting and said softly, “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.”

I am sure we all can relate to Frodo and the feeling of helplessness that he was lost in.  Many of us find ourselves in situations we never planned for ourselves, doing things we never intended to have to do, and faced with trials we never would have anticipated coming our way.  But they did come our way, and we have had to respond to those trials and be tested by them.

What is important for us to realize is that while God is very much to us like Gandalf the Gray was to Frodo. God does not wish for us to be tried the way we are, nor does God cause the bad times to fall upon us.  Perhaps, like Gandalf, God too wishes that the trials we face never had to happen. But they did and do happen and, like Gandalf, God is there with us to comfort us in such times. God is there with us to encourage us in such times. God is there with us to equip us to keep pressing forward through such times…all the way until we finally are able to climb the summit of whatever Mt. Dooms exist in our lives.

It is natural for us to wish that none of it existed or happened, but God is there to remind us that all we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given us. Once we know that we are not alone, and that there is no mountain in our way that God can’t get us over, then we will at least be at peace that God will see us through the fire.  God will never leave us, nor forsake us…EVER. Know that and experience the grace and peace that comes with it!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a [person] perfected without trials.”  — Ancient Chinese Proverb

PRAYER

Lord, though I may go through tough trials in my life, I know that you are there with me and that you continue to carry me. Into your loving and guiding arms, I commit my spirit. Amen.