(First published in December, 2011)
I enjoyed reading THE HOBBIT again recently. One of my favorite lines appears about 2/3 of the way through, deep into the adventure-fraught enterprise for Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves:
They were at the end of their journey, but as far as ever, it seemed, from the end of their quest. None of them had much spirit left.
Tolkien, J.R.R.. The Hobbit (p. 176). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
They had already been through so much, but what they had set out to do was just now barely upon them... and it looked to be the most daunting task of any they had faced.
I'm not overly concerned about the outcome of a work of fiction, albeit superbly written. I am concerned that I might be closer to the end of my journey than I am to the end of my quest. And sometimes I don't feel like I have much spirit left, either.
Getting to the end my journey is nothing more than a simple waiting game. My clock will wind down and stop. Or, something catastrophic could easily snuff out my life before then.
Fulfilling my quest, however, is a different matter.
I always wanted to live for something. The idea of just marking time and occupying the hours with "whatever" always seemed a troublesome modus operandi. There had to be a larger significance for my earthly sojourn.
Shortly after coming to Christ, I knew I had found it! I had discovered that "larger significance.” I now had a reason to live… a quest. Well, I didn’t really discover it. God in his mercy let me see it… just as he does for all who open their hearts to him.
How did Moses end up after leading the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery, in spite of frequent and fierce opposition?
Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. (Deuteronomy 34:7, ESV)
How did the Apostle Paul remain clear-headed, focused and passionate right to the end?
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. (Philippians 3:13, ESV)
I want to be like that.
While not wishing to compare anyone to hobbits and dwarves, I do wish that our churches had a greater sense of being a band of brothers and sisters on a quest... keeping our eye on the prize… willing to live and die for the Captain of our salvation—and for one another—in the pursuit of our quest.
Countless unredeemed souls deserve no less than our best… and our most.
As time marches mercilessly on and drags me closer to my own demise, I cling to promises like this one about our Redeemer:
He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age (Ruth 4:15, ESV)
As a new year dawns, may he be your restorer and nourisher, too.