Thursday, July 23, 2009

While the Fellowship is Faithful

"You would not ask me to break faith with him?” “No,” said Faramir. “But my heart would. For it seems less evil to council another man to break his troth than to do so oneself, especially if one sees a friend bound unwittingly to his own harm.”1

I’ve made decisions in my life. Not unusual. But one of them is to be loyal, in all things that matter but in point, to be faithful to a certain person. From this decision, I have discovered something. Other people have a problem with loyalty. Not their own―however, I suspect it is actually a reflection of their own―but with the loyalty of someone else. Now that I’ve clearly made this decision and am sharing it as a testimony—almost anyone that I tell of it will try as hard as they can to convince me to change my decision. Why do people act like this? If God has called me to loyalty and I’m fine with it and its effects…if it doesn’t bother me, why should it bother anyone else? I guess they care about me…but I’m happy and if it’s God’s will then it’s not going to kill me. I might get bruised a little but I’d rather God let me be bruised for His purposes than to be safe and boring…and disloyal―therefore, disobeying what I know God has called me to do. People fret and fume over me messing up my actually gets rather funny at times. But really, they’re worrying over themselves; it’s a fear reaction of sorts, they are worried that their life might end up like mine. Stupid―since they’re not me―but true. When I’m trying to explain my position and how God is working in my life the thing I hate more than anything is the irrational, foolish advice I’m given when I don’t ask for it nor do I need it. Apparently, they’ve never heard this Lord of the Rings quote, which I’ve used on my blog before because it’s one of my favourites. "Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill. But what would you? You have not told me all concerning yourself; and how then shall I choose better than you?"2 I use Lord of the Rings as an example because it contains so many cases of people who have a chance to be unfaithful but decide to do the right thing. Nearly every character is given an opportunity to go their own way but chooses to go on with their mission; Frodo with the ring, Sam with his duty to Frodo, the Fellowship’s responsibilities to one another, Arwen’s devotion to Aragorn…and the list goes on. That’s what makes the Lord of the Rings such a perfect case in point. Moving on, I don’t often give advice but I will say this to all of you. When someone else is doing something that they are confident in (granted that’s it’s not a sin) but that you personally think is crazy, remember this: Don’t give them advice―for they do not need it and if they do they will ask. Pray for them instead––but not selfishly, meaning you shouldn’t pray that they’ll magically see things as you do but rather pray for God’s will––and don’t pity them. As a Lord of the Rings analyst–of sorts–writes, “Faithfulness is a mighty virtue, requiring stern character, but to see others struggling under the weight of it moves us as often to pity as to respect. When we have the opportunity to give council to such a one, we may do well to remember Gandalf’s admonition that “even the very wise cannot see all ends.” 3


“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.”
Proverbs 3:3.

Works Cited -
1. Frodo and Faramir, J.R.R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, Book 4, Chapter 6.
2. Gildor Inglorian, J.R.R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book I, Chapter III, Page 83.
3. Mark Eddy Smith, Tolkien’s Ordinary Virtues, Chapter 18 – Trustworthiness, Page 89.


Arlan said...

I'll second that, even with the proviso that this doesn't mean you will only suffer the expected harm or trial. It may come out "worse than you imagined." But does that mean it was the wrong choice? Not necessarily. Paul chose to go to Jerusalem despite warning and pleading from the brethren.

Curious - if you feel inclined to share further: what is your perspective on this choice now?

Ingrid said...

I don't mind sharing a little.... Even now, I'm confident that I made the right decision. It was hard and the ending was rough but God taught me so much through all of it. I don't think I could have learned the things that I did if I hadn't been faithful to the task.

Arlan said...

That's encouraging. It took me ten years to make it all the way to "grateful" after a disappointment. I still can't say I learned a lot. (I probably should have - but I can't confess it.) I figured out pretty quickly that God can still be faithful to his promises even if I hurt a lot. This did not strike me as a particularly "good" lesson. Viewed one way, it is terrifying: there is humanly speaking no limit to the evil one can endure, and God is still good and loving. But what good is that absentee goodness?

A few things have since been added to that first "lesson." First, in saying that "all creation groans" waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, and saying that "in [Christ] all things consist", the Spirit testifies that we do not groan alone. "Absentee" is a lie. God is with us.

Second, God is patient. He is not present with us amidst this evil because it bothers him less (that he would ignore our puny human pains), nor because he desires less the consummation of Immanuel; but having a deeper knowledge of the joy, he bears a deeper pain.

Third, God has already been good. This lesson was the longest time in coming because I kept searching for an unquestionably good thing/experience. But merely to be aware of the first two points--whether or not you have any experiences or evidences to back them up--is The Promise. It is the hope. It is "the advantage of being a Jew," because "to them were given the promises of God."