We are reading Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” out loud in school. My son loves the thrill of battle, the giant spiders, the ominous orcs and goblins. My older daughter enjoys some of the finer aspects like the humorous discussions among the trolls, Bilbo’s musings to himself, and the suspenseful and vivid descriptions that make the senses tingle and cause you to unknowingly scoot to the edge of your seat. The teaching opportunities throughout this book are rich, if you are willing to peel yourself away from the action long enough to explain them. This portion stood out to me recently:
It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterwards were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.”
Have you felt this? Experienced this? Much of our battles go on in the mind far in advance of any actual outward conflict. Whatever the resolve we may formulate in our minds, our actions will follow suit. Is it any wonder that there is much scripture devoted to the renewing (a term which suggests complete renovation) of our minds? Sin all happens there first… Whether you like to admit it or not, even in those situations that you “couldn’t help” because they “just happened”…there is a conscious decision…a fleeting moment when you decide, “Yes, I will” or “No, I won’t.”
Where do we get the courage to do right in the face of compromising company, the cunning and smooth overtures of the adversary, or the deceptive self-talk of our own hearts? Not from within, to be sure. You may be familiar with the no-frills description of the natural progression of our own cogitations, offered in James 1:14,15. We ought not lean upon our own understanding, as Proverbs 3:5,6 tells us…but to “acknowledge Him” in all our ways. How?
Be vigilant–be valiant! And for the Christian, this begins with humility and desperate dependence rather than bravado and pulling oneself up by the bootstraps. This is what it looks like:
Renew your mind. Guard your heart. Read your Bible, girlfriend! Target specific verses (Ps. 119:9-11) and passages that will prove to be excellent weapons in the specific areas of temptation you experience on the front lines. These things need to be habits that are woven into your fabric, so that you do not find yourself scrambling in the face of temptation–or worse, doing what comes naturally. Mercy. Trying to draw biblical courage and resolve from the depths of a sinful soul will end in failure, even tragedy in the end. Lady MacBeth advised her husband to “screw [his] courage to the sticking post”…you know how that one ended, I assume. He was weak, self-serving, and he took the lead of his noxious wife [but that’s material for another post–pun intended].
We’ve visited this theme before…and we’ll be back. This is the stuff the Christian life is made of…until we get to glory. Won’t it be rapturous to love Him with an “unsinning heart” as M’Cheyne wrote!
What is your “sticking post” today? I hope it is the Solid Rock.