I love books. I’ve loved reading ever since I was little. My parents used to have to make me put down books and go outside or just do something else. I’d stay up late at night just because I couldn’t put a book down. It was always “just one more chapter. just one more chapter!”
Two of my favorite books are The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I read these books in college and they were profoundly formational in my spiritual development. They still to this day give me so many reminders and illustrations that there is more to the world than what we can see… that there is hope even when every thing seems lost and hopeless.. that there is strength not only in armies or physical appearance but in the perseverance, faithfulness and friendship.
God has used these books to comfort me and teach me… Especially in hard times. There are countless stories in these books when everything seemed lost but then at the last minute something miraculous happened or an unforeseen ally came into the picture.
I really identify with the hobbits in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’m assuming that you know what hobbits are… if you don’t just google it for more info. They’re basically short, little folks who keep to themselves and aren’t seen much as adventurers or courageous. But when put to the test they can prove to be stubborn and faithful and willing to fight for what they believe in. It’s one of the great ironies in the Lord of the Rings that it was a hobbit who was able to withstand the greatest evil of the age and bear the burden that overcome so many great men and warriors. It was the small, determined, stalwart hobbit how saved the world in the end. The most unlikely, unexpected, seemingly least qualified one was exactly who got the job done.
I can relate so much to hobbits because that’s how I see myself. And that’s how so many of the greatest people we read about in books and in the the Bible started out. They were the last ones picked, not that much in the eyes of the world, or never expected to do great things. Moses was murderer who fled and didn’t want to go back to Egypt until God promised to give him help. David started out as a shepherd and because the king of Israel during it’s golden age. Jesus was just seen as a peasant carpenter from a backwater part of the country. Some of his disciples were just simple, uneducated fishermen. None of these guys were glamorous or probably much with ‘stage presence’. Their power and the people’s attraction to them was 100% from God. He emboldened them, taught them and filled them with his spirit. People were drawn to them or repulsed by them because who the One they saw in them, not these people themselves. That fascinates and encourages me! I want to be so lost in God that people see more of him in me and just ‘me’.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from both books. (Yes, technically I know they are both sets of books and not just one but when I read them, I read them all and so they’re just like one big book for me.) If you haven’t read these books you’re doing yourself a disservice!
“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.”
-From “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
-From “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”
“When Sam awoke, he found that he was lying on some soft bed, but over him gently swayed wide beechen boughs, and through their young leaves sunlight glimmered, green and gold. All the air was full of a sweet mingled scent.
He remembered that smell: the fragrance of Ithilien. ‘Bless me!’ he mused. ‘How long have I been asleep?’ For the scent had borne him back to the day when he had lit his little fire under the sunny bank; and for the moment all else between was out of waking memory. He stretched and drew a deep breath. ‘Why, what a dream I’ve had!’ he muttered. ‘I am glad to wake!’ He sat up and then he saw that Frodo was lying beside him, and slept peacefully, one hand behind his head, and the other resting upon the coverlet. It was the right hand, and the third finger was missing.
Full memory flooded back, and Sam cried aloud: ‘It wasn’t a dream! Then where are we?’
And a voice spoke softly behind him: ‘In the land of Ithilien, and in the keeping of the King; and he awaits you.’ With that Gandalf stood before him, robed in white, his beard now gleaming like pure snow in the twinkling of the leafy sunlight. ‘Well, Master Samwise, how do you feel?’ he said.
But Sam lay back, and stared with open mouth, and for a moment, between bewilderment and great joy, he could not answer. At last he gasped: ‘Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue?’”
-From “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”
“I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.”
-From “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair”
“And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
-From “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle”