In J.R.R. Tolkien's classic, The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins is a character who loves peace, quiet, and comfort. He plans his days around the meals he will have and the friends he will see. He hates the unexpected. But somehow one day, the wizard, Gandalf, sweeps into his life, and he finds himself on an uncomfortable quest with thirteen unpleasant dwarves to reclaim a stolen treasure from a nasty dragon. Along the journey, Bilbo keeps asking himself, "how did I get here?"
I don't know about you, but that is a question I have asked myself a lot lately. Just a few short weeks ago, I was getting out, spending time with friends, and planning for my daughter's graduation. Now I find myself on a quest I did not anticipate. And there is a dragon to face.
I was reminded of my favorite part of the book this week as I met with my seventh graders through Zoom. Bilbo has traveled many miles, enduring hunger and life-threatening danger. He has made it to the mountain that contains the dragon's lair. As he travels deeper and deeper underground, he is alone and the darkness surrounds him.
Wisps of vapor floated up and past him and he began to sweat. A sound, too, began to throb in his ears, a sort of bubbling like the noise of a large pot galloping on the fire, mixed with a rumble as of a gigantic tom-cat purring.
This grew to the unmistakable gurgling noise of some vast animal snoring in its sleep down there in the red glow in front of him.
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.
Our world is facing a dragon today. The dragon takes many forms...a virus that threatens our lives, fear, anxiety, the unknown, loss of financial security, isolation. These dragons are real. They are powerful. They are wreaking havoc on our world and looming over us each day. But like Bilbo, I believe the real battle is fought in the quiet moments when no one is around.
Our unique inheritance as Christians is we don't face our dragons alone. Our God promises he will be with us, and when we are in those quiet moments, we can remind ourselves of the promises he gives us in his word.
- Feeling afraid? God doesn't give us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).
Are you anxious? Give your anxiety to him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).
Feeling alone? He promises to be with you and strengthen you (Isaiah 41:10).
So, take heart my friends and be of good cheer. Our problems are great, but our God is greater. Our dragons won't defeat us.
Luckily, we know a dragon slayer.
"And the great dragon was thrown down" Revelation 12:9