Friday, December 19, 2014

Lembas, the Bread of Life

Now as the blackness of night returned Frodo sat, his head between his knees, his arms hanging wearily to the ground where his hands lay feebly twitching. Sam watched him, till night covered them both and hid them from one another. He could no longer find any words to say; and he turned to his own dark thoughts. As for himself, though weary and under a shadow of fear, he still had some strength left. The lembas had a virtue without which they would long ago have lain down to die. It did not satisfy desire, and at times Sam's mind was filled with the memories of food, and the longing for simple bread and meats. And yet this waybread of the Elves had a potency that increased as travellers relied on it alone and did not mingle it with other foods. It fed the will, and it gave strength to endure, and to master sinew and limb beyond the measure of mortal kind.

 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King, Book SIX, Chapter III, Mount Doom

What an amazing power Tolkien has given to lembas! A quick study of it will tell you all about its origins and how it was made. Check out Lembas on the Tolkien Gateway website for an interesting read. One of the things you'll find is that the word lembas is Sindarin (one of the languages of the Elves) from the older lenn-mbass meaning journey-bread. In Quenya (another language of the Elves), it is called coimas which means life-bread.

Outside of the Elves, other races were seldom given lembas; but Frodo and Sam obtained it from Galadriel, who gave it to them at the beginning of their perilous quest. It would literally keep them alive and feed their will to carry on. Otherwise, they would have given up and died!

Interestingly, lembas is vile to evil creatures such as Gollum and the Orcs. They cannot stand it.

When I think of how lembas works, I cannot help but think of how Christ Jesus and his Word play the same role in my life. In fact, the Bible records this declaration of Jesus: "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty" (John 6:35).

Jesus feeds my will, gives me the strength to endure, and helps me accomplish things beyond mortal ability. Seriously, when I am serving people in my community, there are times in my natural body I have felt completely drained, having worshiped God with all my strength, and yet I gain a divine second or third wind to carry forward until the work is done and I can finally rest my head.

The potency of lembas is increased when it is not mingled with any other foods. I see this true also when I adhere to the authority of Holy Scripture and do not mix Truth with worldly philosophy. When I doubt and debate with God, I get weaker in spirit; but when I believe by faith what God has said, and press ahead through prayer and trust in him alone, his power increases in me.

I have also found that those who oppose the will of God are offended by Jesus Christ and his Word. It is vile to them and they cannot stand it. They will not have it. Even the mention of Biblical truth brings up distaste in their mouth (and I'm not talking about shoving it down their throat, only the casual mention of it). I've even heard some express it in that exact way. "I think I just threw up in my mouth," they say in response to any traditional or fundamental interpretation of Scripture.

But there are many, like myself, who are well blessed to have found the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ. Spiritually I am more satisfied than I've ever been and I would never want to go on this long and perilous journey called life without him. If you haven't already, you should try coming to him and believing in him. I believe you'll find his promise to be true! You will never go hungry or thirst again.

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