The last two weekends I have been introducing my son Kyle and one of his friends to the Lord of the Rings movie series. I’ve watched bits and pieces, but never seen the movies all the way through. So maybe I’m writing this blog because I’m hoping to find some redemption in wasting six hours on movies…but it has made me think about the battles. I wondered if the story really takes over nine hours of film to tell. But it is an epic story of battles, and it’s not worth telling if you can’t tell all of it.
Then I begin to wonder where are the epic battles in my life? A part of me likes a good fight. In my dreams I’m always the hero. Most of the time the only epic battles I see are in my dreams. But we are in a massive battle for hearts and souls, and we don’t even know it. We have been lulled to sleep by white picket fences and big screens TVs. We are sleepwalking on the battlefield, walking wounded and oblivious to the reality of war. Or maybe we have taken on the attitude of the Ents and the trees. The battle does not affect us, so we simply refuse to fight. Some of us have chosen safety over war, like the Elves. We have chosen to seclude ourselves in our nice, safe Christian culture and hope for the best. But the battle is here.
Often the battle is within, like Frodo’s struggle to steward the ring. It is an epic battle that wages inside of me between the flesh and the Spirit. A constant war within to keep turning my eyes toward the King and not to give up hope. Frodo had a walking reminder in Gollum of what he would become if he gave into the power of the ring. However I don’t have that visible of a traveling companion. It is easy for me to be deceived into thinking that I’ve managed to keep my flesh at bay, that my righteous deeds somehow make me immune to the attacks of the flesh. And yet when there is no battle inside the heart of a believer, something is wrong. I’m either dead and in heaven or the flesh has won.
When I lift my spiritual eyes to see the battle around me, it feels too big and overwhelming to fight. I was listening to Nancy Leigh DeMoss on “Revive Our Hearts” talk about revivals in American history. The city of Boston in the early 19th century with a population of 12,000 had a revival service attended by 15,000 people. What?? I can’t imagine that happening in Nashville or even in my little town of Nolensville. I don’t even have eyes of faith to believe God could win a battle that big even in my subdivision. But what would happen if I started taking this battle more seriously?
The thing that struck me the most about the epic battles of The Lord of the Rings was that none of them were fought alone. Frodo had Sam who kept him from being swallowed by hopelessness…and other things like dead people. When Frodo was melancholic, Sam was there to lighten the mood with his positive outlook on life. When Frodo began to wonder if his choices would matter, Sam was there to remind him of how great his calling was. Frodo and Sam are faithful brothers in an epic battle.
For my personal battles, I have a warrior friends who fights by my side and who won’t let me give up when it gets hard. They remind me of who I am and what I’m called to do. Together we fight against the flesh that wants us to live in the dark and to be isolated from one another. Through confession, we bring the battles for our heart that are waged in the darkness of night into the light of day where the lies cannot stand against the truth. Without my warrior friends, I would have given up the fight long ago. But together we press on, sisters in arms.
For the battles that are waged for my family and my community, I cannot fight alone. The King of Rodan thought that he had to face the battle against Isengard alone. He believed that the old alliances had failed, and that it wasn’t even worth calling them because they wouldn’t come. Old grudges and wounds kept him from asking for help. I see this in the church when we have let petty arguments and hurt feelings keep us isolated and alone. The friends in the Fellowship of the Ring stood together no matter what. One of my favorite parts was when Legolas apologized to Arogorn for saying that the fight was hopeless. We forget how much healing repentance brings to broken relationships. It’s easier to believe that they would not answer if we called.
Like it or not, we are in an epic battle for hearts and souls. It’s not a battle we can face alone. We must find a way to work together. I need friends who have permission to speak the truth to me. Friends who help me see the battle and who won’t let me forget who I am. My children need other godly men and women who speak into their lives and point them toward Christ. The task of winning the spiritual battle in my community is far too great for me to carry alone. We all have unique circles of influence, so that when we come together, we have a greater influence. This is a battle that begins on our knees. We cannot deny its existence; we cannot do it alone; we cannot give up.
What battles do you face today? Who are you asking to stand with you in the battle?