“They heard his voice come faintly: “Good-bye! Be good, take care of yourselves–and DON’T LEAVE THE PATH!” — Gandalf to Thorin and Company in The Hobbit, by J.R. Tolkien.
In October of 1983, I discovered two wonderful things, that were meant for the rest of my life! J.R.Tolkien, beginning with The Hobbit, (thanks to my Mama) and Old Fashioned Pumpkin Cookies! I found the recipe in our local newspaper that month, when I first began The Hobbit! I learned to make the cookies while reading the book. The two are intertwined in my mind along with the fall season. The memories of that fall are good! Both of these would be shared and dearly loved, year after year, with my Batman and our sons!
We both read the books every year. We always get something new from them. Last year, something stayed with me. It just has not gone away. It seemed so very much analogous to life, and most especially life in Christ.
In the book, there’s a point in the characters’ journey, that takes them, (Thorin and Company) necessarily through a very daunting, disagreeable, sort of mysterious and fraught with many unknowns, path through a very dark wood.
No question about it, what they needed was on the other side. There really were no better or more safe alternatives. It must be done. Further, their safety blanket (as I think of him, in this instance) Gandalf, has to part company with them at the entrance to the forest, as his mission is taking him on elsewhere for a time. They hope to rejoin in the future, if all goes well, which is by no means altogether certain.
The dwarves and Bilbo are warned by two strong figures, authority figures I’d say, that for NO reason should they stray from the path. That the path, though taking them right through a dark, dangerous and mysterious forest, filled with disagreeable things, the path would lead them THROUGH and OUT, if, they can just stay on course.
They are warned by Gandalf, (after quite an impressive warning by Beor), “Don’t stray off track!–If you do, it is a thousand to one you will never find it again and never get out of Mirkwood, and then I don’t suppose I, or anyone else, will ever see you again.” — Gandalf just before saying his good-byes to Thorin and Company outside Mirkwood Forest, The Hobbit, by J.R. Tolkien.
I find this so similar to life. Our actual journey through a fallen world. Where, though we do have the Word, The Holy Spirit, and even Jesus…on the INSIDE (which is far more than Bilbo and Thorin and Company had), there is no visible presence of Jesus every day as we trudge through our own personal Mirkwood.
We would love to have Him where we can SEE Him, side by side as we make our way through the dark and wild path through the trying world, heading to our Promised Land, One Fine Day.
The path in their Mirkwood has a darkly flowing stream. Filled with enchanted water that is said to cause them to lose their senses. So, in other words, tempting, but forbidden, and potentially deadly. Surrounding them on both sides are creatures that are darkly oppressive and unknown to them, initially. Gandalf would surely be greatly missed.
In our lives, we have all we need to stay the course, yet even still, our human frailties make us wobbly on the course! The dangers at times, encroach on our journey, and seemingly, they know just the right times to try to trip us up.
Regardless of the darkness of the world, or our personal Mirkwood, we have advantages that Bilbo did not. The Word is powerful and living, and stronger than any two-edged sword! And we have it! We have it in spades! Greater is He that is IN us, than he that is in this fallen world!
In Ephesians 6, we are reminded to ‘Put on the WHOLE ARMOR of God…’, going on to name many pertinent pieces of armor, for we traveling pilgrims of Christ.
Two in particular weigh strongly on the way through our Mirkwood!–The Shield of Faith, by which we are able to EXTINGUISH ALL THE FIERY DARTS of the enemy, AND the Sword of the Spirit, which is the WORD of God!
Psalm 119:105 states ‘Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.’ He IS our way through our Mirkwood seasons!
The best thing about our times of darkness and trial? We are never truly alone. We are never unequipped. We do not camp in Mirkwood. We travel THROUGH Mirkwood. We are promised that He always causes us to triumph. Hold on!
Yes, there are dangers. If we get off course of what we know is true and good, we risk falling in the dark waters of forgetfulness and losing our way altogether!
But, we have our Shepherd, who is much more worthy than even awesome Gandalf! Gandalf would be the first to admit it!
Our Shepherd will leave the 99, so to speak, in order to go find the one lost sheep, and bring him back to the fold and on the path! With rejoicing!
We have the inner compass, GPS guidance system, of the Holy Spirit, to bring to remembrance the Word of God, to caution, to illuminate, to encourage and comfort us. The Bible calls the Holy Spirit, the ‘earnest‘ and also the ‘seal‘ of our salvation. The earnest being like the deposit you pay to hold something until it’s redeemed (when Jesus comes for us) and the seal being a preservation device keeping us intact until final delivery! So powerful!
We have the tools. We have His Promise. We have His Presence. Mirkwood is not for keeps! It’s temporary, we are only passing through.
Proverbs 4 has a wealth of verses that speak to the necessity to stay focused on the path ahead, but, the BEST part is the conclusion of the thoughts, with this promise: “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” — Proverbs 4:18! That’s us! You and me! If you are in Christ, you have all that you need, and full assurance of getting to your Promised Land, He won’t fail you!
As I close, I want to share a few verses from Proverbs 4 to think about this, and urge you to read The Hobbit! It’s a good time to read, Y’all!!
“I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. When you goest, your steps shall not be straightened; and when you runnest, thou shall not stumble. Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life. Enter not the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.” — Proverbs 4:11-15
Thank you for sharing this with me! Hit us up in the comments! Batman and I really enjoy connecting with you!!
God bless you and keep you!