No one knows what sort of adventures lie ahead. Though this statement sounds exciting and inspiring, the longer it is pondered, the increasingly daunting it becomes. Each adventure has a destination, and how that destination is reached involves its fair share of convolutions and victories. How does one venture out into the unknown with confidence? Only by placing hope in Christ and diving into the depths of His plan is this journey of life possible.
Bilbo Baggins in J.R.R. Tolkien’s enchanting novel The Hobbit, had not the slightest idea of what rested beyond the horizon as he took his first sips of morning tea. The Hobbit tells the epic story of a hobbit by the name of Bilbo, who is chosen by the mighty wizard, Gandalf, to embark on an adventure to defeat a dragon and reclaim lost gold.
Bilbo’s response to the calling Gandalf announces resonates with how many react when God places a calling in their midst:
“Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not today.”
This short, simple phrase may not seem important in the grand scheme of the story. However, this line delves into the roots of the human heart. When pointed to a path by God, the unknown trails loom dark and windy, with unknown peaks and slopes. The immediate response is fear, which drives the conclusion of staying still and enjoying the luxury of known surroundings. Bilbo continues his hobbit life, and humans continue their human life, attempting to circumvent the calling which God impressed in the souls of his people before the beginning of time.
However, no matter how hard one works to turn the tides of providence, God’s ways prevail. One by one, dwarves knock on Bilbo’s door, wreaking havoc upon Bilbo’s comfort and peace. His food vanishes into their starving stomachs, and his home turns upside down. The next day, while attempting to clean up the mess of the previous night, Bilbo finds a note informing him of where to meet the company. He leaves his life behind – his duster, his teapot, and his cozy hobbit hole – and skips down the fields shouting, “I’m going on an adventure!”
Bilbo experienced a total gearshift, from obstinately opposed to adventures to freely and gleefully traversing the lawns of Hobbiton, chanting choruses of excitement and hope. It took his home and comfort being rocked upside down for him to recognize that the chimes ringing his destiny were not to be silenced. And he takes a leap of faith, following the lead of Gandalf.
Our sinful nature limits our perspectives. It causes us to shun God’s callings, to avoid them, to do anything in our power to evade the path God paved for us before the world was created. But God cannot be silenced and His ways cannot alter. He holds the power to shake our hearts to teach us that our present comfort rests in the false arms of familiarity. He permits the cups to break and the food to disappear, opening our eyes to the great adventure He has in store.
When the faultiness of our steadfast feet is exposed, all we can do is fall into the arms of our Heavenly Father who holds our hands, our fears, and our dreams, as we run headlong into the adventure in store.
Bilbo reminisces over the sound of his teapot and the warmth of his cottage, but he perseveres, trusting that whatever he endures will culminate in something greater than he could possibly imagine.
And it does.
Bilbo defeats his qualms of the unknown. Running into spiders, wolves, and dragons on the way, he slays them with the faith that Gandalf will lead him to the end and bring him to solid ground.
May we have faith like Bilbo as we step into the mysterious next chapters of our lives. Wolves may come as moving to college, and spiders as an extra year at home, but may we set our eyes on the one true King who shields us from the dragons’ snares. May we remember that through the darkest forests, and the resplendent treetops, that He paved the path we tread and will bring us to a home more fantastic than anything we could ever comprehend.
Works Cited: Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again. Ballantine Books, 2014.
Photo Credit: Jay Drury