By Ronald G. Davis
In The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, the lead character in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic children’s book, once again gets his opportunity to grow in the 2012 movie of that title directed by Peter Jackson, due out in December. An unassuming hobbit, more concerned with personal comfort and cracked dishes at the beginning of the story, grows to become a dragon-conquering hero in the end. The story may rightly be thought of as Tolkien’s challenge to the Christian to “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess.” To become all that “the one who promised” wants for us. To gain the great prize taken away by the Dragon. For Bilbo it was the treasure stolen from the dwarves by Smaug; for us it is the everlasting life stolen by the Dragon Satan.
The book’s plot, characterized as “an episodic quest,” is an apt picture of the Christian life. As one challenge is met and defeated, another arises, sometimes before a second sigh of relief. The Dragon, sometimes “as a roaring lion,” lurks. And he is out to destroy. None of us wants to face another enemy, small or large. Whether loss of family member, loss of job, disappointment, health impairment, or something as small as flat tires and dead batteries—no one wants those “episodes” to interfere with our quest! As Paul by the Spirit in Romans 8:35-39 so powerfully and joyfully reminds us, there is nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ!
Perseverance and Promise
“Not giving up” is the plea of the inspired writer (Hebrews 10:25) in matters of assembly for worship and fellowship. But he also includes words that encourage, as he challenges us to do for one another (same verse). Words such as confidence, hope, promised, faithful. The call to “spur one another on” in the midst of life events that would stop us in our tracks or detour us from our destination means we are in this perseverance mode together. Life is hard, even with help. Life without help is, well, . . . helpless! I am glad I have those who are concerned about my perseverance. And I am glad God gives me those who need my help to persevere. That is what faith calls us to.
Ronald G. Davis is a retired classroom teacher living in North College Hill, Ohio, with his wife of 50 years, Ruth, his younger daughter, and her son, an 8-year-old shadowed by autism.