If you’ve been attending Grace City Church for any length of time, you probably know that I’m a big fan of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings film trilogies. So when Amazon announced that it was making a TV series based on the Middle Earth story, I was cautiously intrigued, though skeptical that it could outperform the classics I’d grown to love. Truth be told, I have mixed opinions about it. Morfydd Clark plays a decent “young Galadriel,” and I’m warming to Robert Aramayo (Elrond) and Ismael Cruz Córdova (Arondir). My favorite character is Owain Arthur (Prince Durin); and, at least so far, I could do without the Harfoots and their songs.
Opinions aside, however, one theme that has remained consistent across the six episodes I’ve watched is the iron-fisted determination of Galadriel. Ever since her brother died in the first episode in search of Sauron, her vow to hunt down Sauron has been unabated, almost comically so. In each episode, she is serious, unflinching, full of resolve (bordering to grouchiness), undeterred in her mission to hunt down the evil antagonist of Middle Earth.
I enjoy film because I love looking for the biblical themes found in it. And seeing Galadriel’s resolve has made me wonder: Do I have this level of determination as a Christian? Am I that unflinching in my resolve to follow Jesus? If I’m honest, I often feel more like Merry or Pippin wanting another second breakfast than I feel like getting up to follow Jesus when life is hard.
I think that Galadriel’s resolve is a message for us all. We live in an age of non-commitment. Every day we wake up, we’re thinking unawares about how we can improve the situation we find ourselves in. We’re spinning, pondering, mentally-maneuvering—trying to figure out how to get ourselves and our families into a position where we finally have all the things we want: perfect peace, comfort, fellowship, health, and happiness.
But friends, while there is nothing biblically wrong with seeking to “better” things or walk in the good works that God has ordained for us to walk in (Eph 2:10), studying 1 Corinthians 7 with you in the month of September has taught me that if I my life is going to matter (so far as Heaven is concerned)—if I am going to really make a difference, I need to be a man who is undeterred in my resolve to remain where God has placed me. I will never be content without this. I will always be looking for the next thing, always doing things half-way today but never fully in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. I will overlook what God has handed me now because my eyes are fixed on what I hope He hands me later.
Can I tell you a secret? This is simply not the way of the Cross. We were purchased by and belong to a Savior who was both unflinching in His resolve to secure our redemption (Lk 9:51) in pleasing obedience to His Father (Jn 8:29), and was always fully present wherever He was. He was always moving toward Jerusalem to become a sacrifice for our sin; but on the way He didn’t overlook the child who needed healing (Lk 9:37-44), or the woman with an incurable medical issue (Mk 5:25-34), or the Pharisee who had questions (Jn 3:1-21). Jesus knew what it meant to remain where He was with God (1 Cor 7:24), while not losing sight of His rescue mission.
I get it. It’s just not the way of the world we live in to remain in the condition we find ourselves—especially if *right here* feels uncomfortable, awkward, purposeless, isolating, and feels like an exile of sorts. But guys, my marriage, my job, my church, and my neighborhood is where Christ is, because He has sovereignly placed me here and He promised He would be with me always…Here (Matt 28:20). I should not expect to receive His grace of blessing elsewhere if I cannot receive His grace of discipline *Here.* Here is the unmistakably-and-divinely-chosen position where you and I must plant our feet. It is in the stillness where God promises to reveal Himself to us (even if Here is exile!) when we search for Him wholeheartedly (Jer. 29:13). Often the godliest believers are those who’ve learned endurance in the difficult stillness. As Spurgeon wrote, “People learn to swim by swimming. You cannot learn that skill on dry land. Nor can you learn endurance without suffering” (Rom 5:3-4).
So, my dear brothers and sisters, let us remain Here, with God. By grace, let’s be a counter-cultural people, following our Savior in the way of the Cross. Let’s stand out in our world by the commitments we make and stick to, even if we can’t classify them as “ideal.” By grace, let us be unflinching Galadriels who are committed to the mission God has called us to Here until God clearly opens the exit door. Until then, there are lessons He’s not quite finished teaching, people He’s not quite finished changing, and grace He’s not quite finished giving…Here. In your marriage. At Grace City Church. At your job. In your neighborhood. In this season. And Jesus will be with us always, even to the end of the world.
“I promise you there is not a soul amongst our company who yearns for home more than I. I can still feel the light of the trees on my face. I can still see it. And until we are certain every trace of our enemy is vanquished, I can never return.”
-Galadriel, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Season 1 Episode 1