Are you watching a lot of movies these days while you are asked to stay home? Many (if not most) likely said, “Yes.” My husband and I love movies as well and have been looking through our own collection as well as what we have available online. The choices are many, but we are discovering that the movies we are looking for are those that encourage our hearts with great stories of courage. That includes the three Narnia movies made some years ago that played well to children of all ages as well as The Lord of the Rings series.
Who better to encourage our hearts than J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis whose words were penned during another hard time in this world? Both men served in WW I and their stories were born out of how they grappled with the evil and challenges they lived through on the battlefield and beyond.
Why do they attract us and what can they say to us now?
Joseph Loconte wrote an excellent book entitled A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and A Great War that opens a great deal of insight into the answers to those very questions.
“The characters in their imaginative works are continually tested by the choices set before them. Each is involved in a great moral contest, a struggle against forces that would devour their souls.”
We too are being tested as everything about our way of life just a few weeks ago has been altered. It may seem like choices have been taken away from us whether we are ill or healthy, but on either side, there are choices.
We have a choice of whether we are consumed by the noise of the media of all types giving us information that is often tainted by the need for a headline. If we are, then we can find fear and concern being fueled and we can begin to believe we have no choice at all because we do not hear hope or how long our current state will last, how long we must endure.
We long for rescue and a quick end to all this. So did the characters in these stories, but their rescue did not always come or come when and how they hoped. Aslan appeared to rescue Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe in one way as they were untested and had never known him before. It was only the beavers that told them about him or that he was on the move before they even met him.
The second story, Prince Caspian, results in these same characters plus a few new ones caught up in another battle because Narnia had been lost to those who did not follow Aslan. They wanted Aslan to move because now they knew he could, but Aslan did not move in the same way. And he was waiting on them to use what they already knew to show the character he had developed in them.
That truth reminds me of Paul writing in Romans:
“1-2 By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
3-5 There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!”
Romans 5: 1-5 (MSG)
So, we have a choice in what we allow to guide us, be our focus, and sustain us through a crisis of an undetermined length. Tokien and Lewis had no idea how long the ravages of war would last when they fought in the midst of the Battle of the Somme.
The works of Tolkien and Lewis both depict wars and epic battles with seen and unseen forces of evil. Their stories remind us of a war we often miss when our calendars are filled, and we are busy going to and fro.
“The most influential Christian writers of the twentieth century believed that every human soul was caught up in a very great story: a fearsome war against a Shadow of Evil that has invaded the world to enslave the sons and daughters of Adam. Yet those who resist the Shadow are assured they will not be left alone; they will be given the gift of friendship amid their struggle and grief. Even more, they will find grace and strength to persevere, to play their part in the story, however long it endures and wherever it may lead them.”
These two men had a choice to make not only on the battlefield, but when they came home. Look at the example they offer each of us now:
“After returning to England from the front, Tolkien and Lewis might easily have joined the ranks of the rootless and disbelieving. Instead, they became convinced there was only one truth, one singular event, that could help the weary and brokenhearted find their way home: the Return of the King.”