I love epic stories. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Chronicles of Narnia, Star Wars, Harry Potter…these stories move us and our souls resonate with the reverberation of a sacred song being sung through them. Samwise Gamgee sums it up so well:
“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo: the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. […] Folks in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding on to something.”
Deep within each of us we know at our core that we are a part of something bigger. There is a bigger story being told.
We must recognize that scars and struggles are part of the journey. Every hero faces battles against evil forces. The reality of evil rears its ugly head. Wars rage on in the hopes that no matter the cost, good might ultimately prevail.
Arguably more important than the battles faced against external evil are the battles the epic hero faces against themselves. In every great epic, the hero faces a crisis of character; the evil that exists in himself. Frodo has to feel the weighty burden of the ring, and press on to destroy it. Peter must overcome his fear and insecurity in order to kill a wolf to save his sisters. Edmund has to be humbled and broken over his pride and selfishness. Luke has to recognize the darkness that existed in him, as it did his father. Harry has to destroy horcruxes—each one more and more difficult.
Every hero has to tackle his own dark potential in order to conquer and experience victory—-the proverbial “happy ending.”
I have been a Christ-follower for 13 years now. Over these years, I have had to come face to face with my own capacity for hatred, for bitterness, for my potential to be foolish, prideful, selfish, anxiety-ridden, fearful and more. In my struggles against myself, there is a common lie that I believe: God is holding out on me. I believe the lie that God is not all good.
It’s an ancient lie; the same one that Adam and Eve believed. Believing that God isn’t all good, that God is holding out on us, that God doesn’t actually love us. We let go when we must hold on.
When we let go of the Truth of the character of God, we cannot hold fast to the Truth of the promises of God.
The Truth is that God is all good. His character is good. His promises are good. And He is not holding out on us. He promises that all of the trials, all of the tears, all of the pain—ALL of it—will be made right. His rule is just and righteous. And so we press on. In the name of our King, we press on and fight—bitter as it may be this side of Heaven—knowing that like Frodo, we will one day pass into the West.
Oh, friends, let us hold fast. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, and know that the struggles are worth it. It is worth it to fight for the Kingdom of Heaven. It is worth it to fight for justice, and goodness. It is worth it to stay the course, to run hard, and to love strong.
Your life is bigger than the chapter you are in. Let us press on together.