Thursday, December 6, 2012

An Unexpected Journey

On December 14, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will arrive in theaters. I have been looking forward to this film all year, believing that it will be one of the greatest movies of the year. Peter Jackson did a fantastic job with J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings stories, adapting them to film and exposing the world to the professor's most beloved cast of characters. The third film, The Return of the King, was for me, emotionally rousing. Even my wife teared up in the end when Frodo and Sam are overcome by exhaustion on the side of Mount Doom. The Ring had taken a tremendous toll on Frodo and his best friend Sam talked to him about home.

Sam: Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It'll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they'll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields... and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?

Frodo: No, Sam. I can't recall the taste of food... nor the sound of water... nor the touch of grass. I'm naked in the dark, with nothing, no veil... between me... and the wheel of fire! I can see him... with my waking eyes!

Sam: Then let us be rid of it... once and for all! Come on, Mr. Frodo. I can't carry it for you... but I can carry you!

It was a beautiful picture of friendship, endurance, and fighting for the restoration of uncorrupted times. In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the lesson will be about courage and maturity. Bilbo Baggins, comfortable in his hobbit hole in the Shire, will venture out into the Wild on a quest. But he won't be alone. He will be accompanied by a band of dwarves, but he'll also have the wise Gandalf coaching him.

I call this blog, "Advancement Points," because I believe we all need to get out of our comfortable holes and go on a journey. That is how we mature and become everything that our Creator intended for us to be. The good news is, like Bilbo Baggins, we don't have to go alone. We have a wise teacher - Jesus Christ - who will guide us if we'll listen, and he'll even come to our rescue once-in-awhile! I know this, because that has been my life. God called me away from my family and home when I was a teenager to pursue His purposes. I said "yes," and it has certainly been a grande adventure!

If you go to the movies to see the film, enjoy the story first and foremost. That's what J.R.R. Tolkien would want. Then, go and buy the book and read it. He would want that even more! But, he also believed the power of mythical fairy-stories lies in the fact that they speak to the listeners (and viewers - in this case) about their own lives. Look for the good lessons and the values that shine through. With Tolkien's stories, it's really not that hard to do. But, if you would like some great book recommendations to help you sort through the lessons, try the following resources:

Finding God in the Hobbit by Jim Ware
A Hobbit Devotional: Bilbo Baggins and the Bible by Ed Strauss
A Hobbit Journey by Matthew Dickerson