“But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Be not rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” And when I looked, behold, a hand was stretched out to me, and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. And he spread it before me. And it had writing on the front and on the back, and there were written on it words of lamentation and mourning and woe.
There’s a wonderful quote from the Lord of the Rings, the great fantasy novel set by JRR Tolkien. Frodo, one of the main characters, has to take a powerful magical object to a secluded and dangerous place in order to destroy it. If he fails and it falls into the wrong hands, it could mean the destruction of everything they hold dear.
Frodo is a hobbit, a member of a fun-loving, peaceful, and quiet race of creatures who do their best to stay out of real trouble even as they get themselves into mischief with fireworks and too much drink. That means Frodo is the last person you’d expect to be in charge of destroying this magical object, a ring. But it seems that the fate of the whole of life has come down to exactly that.
In the midst of it all, Frodo consults with an old wiseman and wizard, Gandalf. Gandalf advises Frodo and encourages him, and it’s in the midst of one of their conversations before the journey begins that we read:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
We each of us long for times of peace and comfort, to live good years of plenty. But we do not get to choose the time in which we live or the troubles that we will face. By God’s providence we receive both times and troubles. It is up to us what to do with them.
To reject them or to hide from them would be to rebel against what God has asked us to do. Instead, we are called to embrace what God has given us, even if it is a time of mourning and grieving and unrest. We are called to faithfulness no matter what the circumstances. That is our true calling.
And we see in our Lord one who did not reject, but embraced his calling. He set his face like flint toward Jerusalem. He was faithful to death, even death on a cross. And God rescued him. For though he died, yet would he live again.
We must each decide what to do with the time that is given to us.
Lord Jesus, help me to embrace my calling. I did not want this. I felt I already had enough. But such is your will. I submit to you, and ask that you go with me. As I seek faithfulness to you, please continue with your steadfast love for me.
Preserve us, O God. Have mercy.