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Meanderings by josh m. shepherd: #1: The Hobbit
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Bilbo finds a ring.Come sunrise, goblins emerge from a crack in the cave that becomes a passage. The rough adversaries soon bind the Dwarves and Bilbo. They drag their prey to the Great Goblin, who rages to discover their Quest. Suddenly, the light in the cavern goes out—courtesy of a certain wizard—separating Mr. Baggins from the others. The hopeless hobbit feels his way forward, picking up a ring that he finds. He comes to an underground lake occupied by a sea monster. An eccentric being under a disfiguring spell, Gollum engages the protagonist in a game of riddles. Winning the competition, Bilbo flees from his opponent, having the good fortune of putting on the ring he happened upon (which makes the wearer invisible). Goblin guards are confounded by the walking shadow, who exits at the other side of the Misty Mountains.

Gollum fondling his precious.The tale is not all told, but a remark or two is in order. Either J.R.R. Tolkien doesn't know how to write anything but "chance" escapes from insufferable situations, or else some meaning hides therein. The latter must be assumed on token of the author's skilled diction. Indeed, morals about discernment, domination, mutual defense and the like could be uncovered with just the synopsis above.

Philippians 2:12b-13 best tells what aims we will investigate: "...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." Already, Bilbo has followed, withstood, served, fought and, on the whole, endured more than in all his life before. So is the Christian life no cakewalk either.

The hobbit finds a terrible evil.The hobbit would run many more miles before reaching the company's destination. He fights his dread and descends into darkness—to claim the Mountain from a dragon. On a bed of jewels the beast sleeps, but awakes to battle Bilbo with fire and words. The little hobbit comes near death multiple times, yet his gallantry is worn naturally, with much of his former self's uneasiness lingering. In fury, the dragon, the terror of the Mountain, abandons its fortress to feast on nearby Lake-town. The arrow of a guarding sentry flies straight, striking the ancient dragon, which meets death.

Goblin-riding Wargs.Men, goblins, and wargs (huge wolves) now vie for the unguarded riches that the Dwarves claim as theirs; the historic Battle of Five Armies ensues with a band of eagles and Gandalf eventually interceding on the behalf of Good. Though Thorin, the Mountain's heir, fell, his line is restored to their inheritance.

"But who wove the web? Did you plan all this then, Gandalf?" (The Quest of Erebor). These questions were put to the wizard ages after the Battle, and he pondered long before answering. "I do not know the answer. [In those days], I used in my waking mind only such means as were allowed to me, doing what lay to my hand according to such reasons as I had" (The Quest of Erebor). Even sages like Gandalf are not privy to everything that happens, nor how or why.

Comrade hobbits embracing.Indeed, some Lord—a caring One, intimately drawn to His creation—orchestrated all the key dealings, starting with the very encounter of Thorin and Gandalf. Yet this God didn't accomplish all single-handedly. (What "good pleasure" is in that?) Only pain and ultimate sacrifice can build character and ultimate joy. As our Father in Heaven cares about even our littlest matters, so should we give ourselves fully to the love and knowledge of Him.
- The co-founder of cMusicWeb.com and a charter member of The Official Lord of the
Rings Fan Club, Josh M. Shepherd is currently studying at Oral Roberts University.
February 2004
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