Thursday, September 9, 2010

You Shall Not Pass, Take 2

Oh, Lord of the Rings, how God reveals truth through your story to me again and again...

I recently started a Bible study with just a couple of girlfriends. Last week, we were sitting around sharing our stories of heartache and loss. God reminded me of my favorite scene from The Lord of The Rings. Honestly, He brings this scene to mind for me several times a day. It applies to so many circumstances. 

If you've read my blog, you may remember the original post here. (Start reading at the title "You Shall Not Pass.) If you haven't, this is the particular excerpt I'd like to share.

I’ve shared this several times with several different people. I think it applies to a multitude of circumstances. I know it applies to mine. (Bear with the following nerdiness.) In the first Lord of the Rings movie, there is this scene that always makes me cry. They are running across this bridge in the mines of Moria. This monster, a Balrog, to be precise, is coming after them. Gandalf stops on the bridge and faces the monster. He yells, “You cannot pass!” The monster keeps coming at them. He says, “I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun.” A moment of silence. “Go back to the shadow.” Another moment of silence. “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!!!” Every single time I see that scene, I cry. I think if I had any clue of the power that I have in Christ, I would face my own fears with that kind of confidence. I would slam my staff into the ground. I would say, “I am a servant of the Most High God, bearer of His Holy Spirit. The dark fire will not avail you, my enemy.” “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!!” I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Yeah, great. Doesn’t Gandalf fall off the cliff in that scene?” Yes. He does. BUT THAT MONSTER DOES NOT PASS. And if you know the whole story, you know that Gandalf falls and fights that monster and emerges as Gandalf the White. Here’s a youtube clip of the scene. Knowing Tolkien’s motivation for writing these books, I don’t think my interpretation or encouragement from that scene is far from the mark that he intended. So, as I daily declare to my fears that they shall not pass, join with me. Declare the same to your own. Slam your staffs into the ground and refuse to be defeated. Join with me “until at last we throw down our enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountainside.” 

So, how does this scene apply today? As we shared the sad parts of our story, I couldn't help but think about the pit where we all find ourselves sometimes. The pit is part of our journey. Jesus promised that in this world we will have trouble, but take heart, He has overcome the world. Don't get me wrong, I do not believe that the pit is a permanent residence for the believer. I am defining the pit as a season of sadness or lament. Life is hard. We've all been there. Sometimes it is really hard to claw our way out, but there is a way out.

Missing from The Lord of the Rings is a detailed scene depicting what Gandalf experienced in his pit. In one of the later films, they do briefly recap it, but it is not particularly thorough. What was that pit like for him?

What was Gandalf's choice as he found himself falling into this pit? He could fight, or he could give up and die. Honestly, if I found myself falling from a cliff toward a giant monster, I may think "Well, I've had a good run. It's all over now!" Gandalf, however, does not appear to think this way. As he is falling down (I can't get over that, so let me emphasize it he is falling down), he wields his sword!  Sometimes we don't even think to fight in those circumstances, but he took a nosedive to grab the sword and aimed it right at the monster. If I remember correctly, he even got a blow in on the way down!  Wow! We can fight even as we fall! I know it's hard to remember to fight as you are careening toward the bottom, but maybe I'll think about Gandalf next time I find myself headed that way and take a nosedive for my own sword.

Gandalf and the Balrog eventually hit rock bottom. They reach the floor of the pit, and Gandalf is in for the fight of his life, as any of you who have experienced a pit of depression or sadness can well understand. Now, I don't know if Gandalf knew that if he was able to defeat the Balrog, he would be able to emerge as Gandalf the White. My guess is no. He just knew he had to fight. Sometimes, as silly as it is to admit, I forget to fight. I have days, moments when it doesn't even occur to me. I just curl up and prepare to die. It's funny because, unlike Gandalf, I do know the end of my story. I know who has the victory. I know that I can live in that same victory, but I often live as though I am defeated.

So I face a choice when I find myself in the pit. I can just live there until I die, or I can stand and fight. If I "struggle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms," (Ephesians 6:12) I know that my side WINS. I will have entered the pit as "the Gray," and emerged to find I have become "the White."

I realize this is somewhat oversimplified and vague. I can't say what the fight will look like for you, but I do pray that you will fight... and you will win... and you will come out better than you went in.

On another note, I often have these thoughts and ideas and fail to take the time to write them down. Today I was thinking about the pit and was reminded that sometimes God gives us thoughts because they need to be shared. If God gave me this word for you, I hope you were encouraged. You are His dearly beloved, and He wants you to know that you are not alone down there. Now go kick some Balrog butt!