“By faith…(they) quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were turned strong, became valiant in battle.”
If you are or aren’t a Middle Earth fan, you will appreciate how J.R.R. Tolkien created memorable characters with stories we could all relate to. Over the next couple of weeks I want to revisit one of my favorite series. Personally, I am always taking away life lessons from Tolkien’s classic tales. After watching the movie versions, I am reminded what makes these stories very powerful and thought-provoking.
One of the characters that people often remember from this feature is the tortured creature Gollum. As you may or not remember, Gollum was once a peace-loving Hobbit, named Sméagol. He was not unlike the main characters of Bilbo and Frodo in many ways. Sadly, he fell under the spell of the One Ring, which is entirely evil and treacherous, and it sent his life down a dark and dismal path.
In the process of five hundred plus years, the ring became his master and it caused Sméagol to have a split personality. The ring brought out the dark, twisted, and bitter Gollum and left a weak and whimpering Sméagol under submissive control. Needless to say, this divided character fought battles on the outside to get hold of his precious ring, but his greatest struggles were within himself and his choices to do right or wrong.
A plan was made to destroy the Ring, which has the power, in the wrong hands to enslave to whole world. (Does that sound like what sin does, or is that just me?) Our main character Frodo and his companions set off on the quest to the land of Mordor, the enemies stronghold, to carry out this epic quest. Secretly in tow in Gollum, who’s one passion is to get back his “Precious” from the one who stole his birthday present from him.
Without giving away anymore, Frodo and his companion Sam, enlist the help of Gollum to guide them secretly to Mordor. Yes, it’s an odd and disturbing companionship at the start. Along the way though, Frodo begins to understand Gollum’s life and struggle from a personal level. The ring is creeping its unseen fingers into Frodo’s mind and heart as well. What Frodo wants to do is see Sméagol free of the ring because that gives them both hope that the ring will not destroy their lives.
Because of this tiny faith, Sméagol gains strength and pushes aside Gollum in his mind and life. That struggle looks like Sméagol is finally free of his internal tormentor. Sadly, when the pressure and betrayal comes, Gollum and Sméagol are both determined to have the ring for themselves. It looks like that glimmer of hope has been snuffed out and evil triumphed in this hardened life.
If you have not seen the movie, I ask you to read this entry with a warning. I am going to share the fate of our heroes and villains to wrap of this tale.
There is a battle with Frodo and Gollum over the very volcanic pit where the ring was made and can be destroyed. The ring tried to control Frodo and make him it’s slave, but Gollum bit the ring from his finger, and in moment of bliss fell into the lava. It destroyed the ring and thus saved the world.
I told you all of this just to throw an idea into your head. What if Sméagol got to play the hero one last time? Hey, it worked for Darth Vader VS Emperor. What if Sméagol, in his own way showed compassion to Frodo by taking the ring back. He didn’t want to see his Master, his friend, suffer like he did. Sméagol allowed Gollum to resurface long enough to get back the ring, which he knew he was too weak to do himself. Then when he had the ring back, he conveniently edged them to the brink of a cliff and took out his two worst enemies in one fatal leap.
Is this a stretch? Probably. I just wonder if any one else sees that stories and characters have those internal struggles that no one but God sees? I am preaching this to myself, by the way. Don’t jump to conclusions, too quickly. We don’t know what is really going on inside the hearts and minds of others we deem lost and sinful. We should never discount the little acts of kindness, compassion, and faith we show to our bored neighbors, jaded detractors, or right-in-your-face enemies. When Jesus is at work in those moments between us, who knows if a tiny seed is lodged right in the crack of the heart that will eventually open to Him. Their moment of truth might come when the heat is turned up and the ring of destiny is in their hand.
Maybe big court decisions that affect us all are someone’s call for help. It could be that act of anger and rage on a small church is someone telling you that they are in crisis. The course of history has always turned on the decisions that Christ’s church has made or not made. We can see it as a hopeless inevitable turn of events or ask the Lord to use the heat of these world-altering events to open up those lost and wandering hearts. I wonder how many Sméagol’s are ready to be free from their Gollums?
How do we know that his last little bit of goodness played to fool for that moment on the edge of the chasm? The ‘bad guys’ are giving us clues that they want hope too.