Sunday, January 16, 2011

"I Wish None Of This Had Happened."

Frodo and The Ring of Power (The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring)

     I don't know why circumstances in life keep reminding or bringing me back to my favourite movie. I guess there is so much in The Lord of The Rings that God uses to speak to me in a profound and powerful manner. With the train of thought that I've been developing since the beginning of the year, recalling something relevant from LOTR that spoke to me was inevitable. The brilliant soundtrack composed by Howard Shore that plays as I write this definitely adds fuel to the fire of inspiration!

    Among the many memorable moments in the first part of the trilogy, The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring, there was one in particular that riveted my attention the very first time I saw it in the theatres. It continues to do so every year at Christmas time, as I watch the trilogy as part of my annual tradition. Mind you, I watch only the Extended Edition!

    The approximate half-way mark finds Frodo, Sam, Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Boromir, Merry and Pippin trapped underground in the dark of the massive dwarf mine of Moria. Since discovering the true nature of the Ring towards the beginning of the story, Frodo has found himself running from the Shire with his friends, chased by the Ringwraiths first to Bree, and from there, all the way to Rivendell. Along the way, for the first time in his life he is thrust into a wild and unfamilar world fraught with danger, stabbed, endured cold, hunger, fear, sleepless nights and much more. The jouney has become only harder after leaving Rivendell, where he had assumed responsibility for the Ring as the Ringbearer, and begins to increasingly feel its weight on his spirit and the allure of its power. Now, chased into the dark of Moria and trapped in its terrifying gloom and silence with the rest of the Fellowship, Frodo sits next to Gandalf and begins to cry. And in that context comes this very potent scene.

The Fellowship of The Ring: Gandalf in the Dwarf mine of Moria

    "I wish the Ring had never come to me," says Frodo. "I wish that none of this had happened." There is a pause as Gandalf turns to look at him, his eyes filled with compassion and understanding of the burden that he would never have had the little Hobbit carry. "So do all who live to see such times", he says. "But that is not given to them to decide. What we must decide, is what we will do with the time that is given to us."

    That tiny exchange of two sentences is significant; it will return to influence Frodo's decision at a critical and pivotal moment towards the end of The Fellowship of The Ring, when both the quest and the Fellowship are on the verge of collapse. Time and again, as I watch the movie or in moments of reflection, it speaks volumes to me too.

    Like Frodo, I have a long list of "I wish" moments as I look back on my life. And I'm sure we all do - I wish I'd done better in school; I wish I'd studied harder; I wish I'd achieved more; I wish I'd listened to this advice, and hadn't listened to that advice; I wish I'd used my time better; I wish this friend had not hurt me; I wish that person had not abandoned me; I wish that painful moment had not happened; I wish someone loved me; I wish someone wanted me; I wish someone would take notice of all that I do; I wish people would treat me better; I wish I had treated people better; I wish I had been a better son/daughter/husband/wife/father/mother; I wish I had told that person I loved them; I wish I hadn't; I wish I hadn't said those hurtful words to that person; I wish I had trusted this person; I wish I hadn't trusted that person; I wish I wasn't a fool; I wish I had made this choice, or not made that choice; I wish...

    But time and again, in those rueful moments of regret, disappointment, sorrow and a myriad other sentiments, I am reminded of the transforming perspective of my God and Father, who would have me see differently. I am reminded that my life and times are in His hand, where in the words of His Apostle, "..that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28, ESV). I am reminded that through all my moments of regret, He works for my good and His glory, transforming me into the image of His Son and my Christ as He weaves the threads together into a brilliant tapestry that will outweigh all the tears and heartbreak that have gone into its making. I am reminded of His constant and abiding companionship through it all, brilliantly expressed by Psalm 139 and the writer of Hebrews: "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). I am reminded that He will comfort me in painful moments involving people and circumstances (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Psalm 9:9). I am reminded that I will have courage inspite of my doubts, when I look at Him (Romans 10:17, 2 Corinthians 5:7, Hebrews 11:1). I am reminded that He will help me deal with my failures (Psalm 37:23-24, Proverbs 3:5-6) and through disappointments (Phillipians 4:6-7, Galatians 6:9). I am reminded of His consolation in times of heartbreak (1 Peter 5:6-7, Isaiah 43:2). There is not one wistful "I wish.." occasion of this life that is not transformed in perspective as we come to know the great God who bids us call Him "Father."

    Above all else, I am reminded through His Word and moments such as this, that He has given me a unique capacity as a human being - the power of choice. And as a child foreknown, predestined, called, justified, glorified (Romans 8:29) and guided by His Spirit, to use that choice wisely and differently, to decide what I will do with the time given to me by my Father. The power to choose love in the light of the sinner that I am, and sinful human beings whom I have hurt and hurt me in turn, in a fallen and broken world. The power to choose eternity, knowing my true Home waiting on the other side of death, "...looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God" (Hebrews 11:10). The power to choose the use of my time to tell the dying world around me that there is life offered to them freely, if only they will accept.

    I have to stop now. It's hard to believe so much came out of a little two-sentence exchange in a massive three-hour movie. It makes me feel like I have to watch it now, but I'll have to control myself until Christmastime comes again in...11 months. I guess the soundtrack will have to do until then. But for those reading, do take time to watch this awesome story. There will never ever be a movie made to equal them, in my opinion! That said, I want to leave you with this thought:

    It is not given to us to choose the difficult "I wish none of this had happened" moments of our lives. What will we do with the time that is given to us?

- The Wisdom Seeker