I feel like our path in this world is illustrated perfectly in the Lord of the Rings. Of course, many works by Tolkien and his friend, C.S. Lewis, have biblical and spiritual allegories, and maybe that’s why I’m drawn to it.
There are the grassy hills of the Shire, where dirt roads are lined with wildflowers and children play in the distance. This is when we walk in peaceful time, possibly even in complacency and slight ignorance, at the world around us.
Then, we begin to cross borders on the map of unknown territories, where the grass is brown, and crushed beneath the feet of soldiers. There’s harsh winters, times of bleakness and weariness, when you consider turning back.
Our first taste of agony and loss come on the road to Mordor and the strength temporarily leaves our body. But, you get up. You must keep going. There’s one goal and our eyes must stay on the prize.
Then, betrayal enters, from people you trusted or loved on this journey. You must make the gut-wrenching decision to leave them behind, because to stay together would only endanger the final goal.
Love. Friendship. Loyalty. Dedication. It’s there, too, appearing at just the right moment when your soul is empty and without a compass. Two are better than one, because if one falls down, the other is there to help pick them up.
Imagine that map of Middle Earth, and all the lines and directions that are travelled. Each destination brings wisdom, awareness, fear and strength.
Maybe one day I’ll add to this including all of those pinpoints, but for now, we’ve reached the Black Gate.
Gone is any color from the landscape. Gone is any color from the sky. Gone is any nearby ally. It’s all black, gray, and red, fueled by an evil that can barely be described.
Why go to this place? Well, to depart from Frodo’s journey for a moment, imagine Jesus, after suffering and dying on the cross, as he approaches and unlocks the gates of hell. He walked from Galilee to the cross, conquered death at the real black gate, and rose again so the molten lava and eternal fire of Mount Doom could not reach His people.
We are, or we were, all doomed. But, someone already made the difficult journey for us – to protect us from that indescribable evil.
Does that mean we won’t have to face an army, or climb treacherous terrain, with cuts and bruises and danger all around us? Does that mean we won’t face evil, sickness, or even death along the way?
No. We still have to go there.
We have to make our own journey as we take up our cross and follow Him, because if we walk that path, the Bible says we will suffer as He did. But, remember to keep your eye on the prize. The enemy desperately wants to distract or detour you.
I’m still not completely sure what all the Lord will teach and reveal to me, but I recently made a trip through Mordor. Movie references are my favorite when writing because I like for people to visualize what I’m writing about, and LOTR is one of the best examples of my walk during the last four years.
I did not want to go there. I begged and cried for the Lord to change directions, but that was not His will for me. Along the way, He gave me companions, and a few like Sam, who at one point carried me when I was too weak to stand.
I feel like my book will one day be similar to the Hobbits’ tales, with written memories of a grassy hillside, surrounded by woods, protected from the outside world…where I grew up on a farm in Bibb County. In my mind it was a magical place filled with wonder and exploration as my days were spent outside in the sunshine.
Then, like when Eve ate the apple, my eyes were opened to a different world and my journey began.
Fast forward from the 80’s until now, and I reached the Black Gate sometime in 2015-2016. It took me all the way to the precipice of Mount Doom, where I had to make a decision. Sometimes, in my despair or hatred for those attacking me, I made the wrong choices, and strong arms were there to catch me as I dangled over the bottom of the volcano.
Now, the movie is paused. The moment the ring drops, and the Eye of Sauron explodes, and the darkness is lifted, and celebration erupts… this scene in my story is still pending.
It’s October 2017. Stay tuned for the ending.
As a Christian, we know to be “in the flesh” is to allow our old nature, the sinful one, to take over the new creation we are in Christ.
The fruits of the Spirit aren’t just a pretty Bible verse to hang in a kitchen – it’s what people should see in us after we’ve given our life to Him.
But, what about an enemy? A tormentor or bully? Yes, we are instructed to pray for our enemies and those that persecute you, but I’m struggling with finding biblical examples of how/when to fight. What about the times enemies were toasted with fire in the sky, or the ground swallowed them up, and don’t forget the sea that killed an entire army?
When do we turn the other cheek and when do need to stand up for what is right? It’s a balancing act, and one that requires a lot of prayer and discernment to understand the difference.
Maybe it is a thorn in the flesh? Are those in our life for a certain reason? To serve the same purposes as Paul’s did? Or, God may yet want to save this person who has caused us so much pain, and possibly their surrounding family members.
Who would argue with God trying to secure them for eternity? He says he doesn’t want anyone to perish…not even the ones I don’t like. I’ll admit I don’t wish eternal fire on anyone (although abusers of children and the elderly might need a short stay there).
What do I do? If I play at the fool’s level, then I also look like a fool.
Yesterday was my oldest daughter’s 19th birthday. Her biological dad texted her as he does on holidays and she prefers not to reply. See, there were some creepy and unlawful events that took place last summer and he was arrested, and the criminal case is still pending – because he keeps postponing it.
This means the girls haven’t seen this man in 13 months, because a judge advised that he might need to keep his distance based on the charges against him.
So, when my daughter (who lives at college) doesn’t reply to him, he takes to Facebook and posts one of the last pictures of them together, saying, “If anyone knows how to reach my daughter, tell her happy birthday and daddy loves and misses her very much.”
He has her phone number.
He has the other daughter’s phone number.
They see his mom every month.
He knows our address.
He knows my phone number.
He knows where she goes to school.
So, she isn’t missing.
I can only guess that he did this because he wanted people to feel sorry for him, because there’s a court hearing – tomorrow. Of course, people from our hometown tag my daughter, who simply untags herself and goes on with her day at school. She had a great dinner last night with friends who drove in from Troy, JSU and UA just to surprise her, and she turned 19 – which means she’s legally free some having to see him again in our state of Alabama.
I’ve told her I think the Lord would want all families to reconcile, but after what she went through, it’s going to take time and counseling for them to ever fully trust their biological father again.
Oh, and the civil family courts, DHR, counselors, court-appointed GALs…no advice is needed. I went through Mordor into that fiery volcano and there’s no magic ring that can bring about justice and honesty from that cesspool. We just have to stay away from the Black Gate and hope they don’t wander too far out into the world.