Being a Tolkien fanatic, I’ve been reading The Hobbit to my parents so that on my birthday we can begin watching The Lord of the Rings movies. The last time I read this book I was in 5th grade, because after that I went a bit Tolkien-crazy and read The Lord of the Rings a few times, as well as The Silmarillion, some Tolkien encyclopedias, and a biography. Now that I’ve read it again I realize just how many important lessons are in it. It’s not only a children’s story; it’s an epic tale in itself. Although it is the prelude to The Lord of the Rings, it still carries weight and is its own story.
There are many things that I could talk about – and probably will in the future – about all the lessons that can be learned from it, but just now I want to focus on one: the path. The version of the travel song that Bilbo sings in The Hobbit differs slightly from the one in The Lord of the Rings, but I think I like the first one better: “The Road goes ever ever on…” and so on. I like this because it says “ever ever on,” which is in other words never ending.
The path we walk with God in life, or I should rather say the path he walks with us, never ends, but he’s always there. Sometimes the path is dark and lonely, such as the path the company followed in Mirkwood, and it’s dangerous. There are many things in life that hinder us, both accidental and intentional. Our hope is to, as Gandalf and Beorn emphasize several times, not leave the path. I do know that God helps us to find the path again if we do leave it, because otherwise I would have been spider food a long time ago.
What I’m saying is this: maybe you feel like there’s no hope in sight, no light, nothing. Maybe you feel like everything is wrong and what you can see of the road ahead is even darker than where you are now. But in Romans 5:3-5 says this: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, for we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
That, coupled with the well-known Psalm 23:1-4: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
And let’s add Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
These are only three of the many places in the Bible where God makes it clear that he is always with us, even when we turn away from him for a while. So if the road looks dark, look up.