Friday Rewind – 11/30/12

[This first appeared as a guest post at Aimee Byrd’s Housewife Theologian last March.]

Making Plans

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21.)

Our son Kyle recently came home from college for a long weekend and brought three friends with him. For spacious-nesters like us it was quite a crowd. (My wife Liz and I figure we’re not empty-nesters since we’re still here for crying out loud!)

Each night after dinner we all sat together at the table and talked. We didn’t necessarily talk about anything in particular; we just talked. There was a lot of laughing as we told stories about Kyle when he was younger. He’s a good sport and came up with a few stories about us too. His friends were very entertained and kept looking at Kyle and saying things like, “Well that explains a lot!” They also asked us questions, mostly about God and faith and the Bible. Apparently Kyle told them ahead of time they should feel free to ask us whatever they had on their minds when it came to God. He knows us well, because Liz and I are not likely to back away from a discussion about God things.

Eventually the conversations turned to their plans for the future. Kyle is the only one graduating this year, so the others were talking about what to do this summer, whether to apply to study abroad next year, what their major might finally end up being. In all of this there was a subtext of faith. At times it became explicit such as when talking about opportunities to serve on a summer mission, but even when not so explicit it was always there under the surface. These kids know that their lives are wrapped up in God.

They left after dinner on Monday, and the next day I was reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers. I don’t know how many times I’ve read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I know it’s enough to have lost count by now. Yet every time I get to the part where Aragorn and his friends Gimli the Dwarf and Legolas the Elf meet Eomer, I am struck again by the timelessness of the tale. Aragorn explains to Eomer that they are traveling through his country on a quest to save their Hobbit friends from a large band of marauding Orcs, and he seeks Eomer’s leave to continue their pursuit. Eomer struggles with whether to help these strangers or not and says:

“It is hard to be sure of anything among so many marvels. Elf and Dwarf in company walk among our daily fields …! How shall a man judge what to do in such times?”

“As he has ever judged,” said Aragorn. “Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear, nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among men.”

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That’s what got me thinking about Kyle and his friends. They are all judging what to do with their lives, even if that’s not quite how they’d put it. But his friends are in just their second year of college. Where are they supposed to get the ability to discern good from ill, right from wrong? Well, as timeless as Tolkien’s portrayal of good judgment may be there is an even more timeless resource for them (and us) to turn to for guidance.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.(Proverbs 16:3.)

God himself is the one we can trust our plans to. Does it matter whether the plan is to go to summer school or serve on a mission to South Africa? What about making a final decision on choosing a major? Is a choice of roommate and housing for next year something to exercise good judgment over?

The answer to each of these questions is the same: Yes. How is this done, though? What does it mean to commit our plans to the God? The Bible tells us. “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31.) We’re also told that God’s will is that we “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.) Those are our guides for committing our plans to God: seek his glory, and do it joyfully, prayerfully and with thanksgiving.

On top of all this, the Bible also gives us a wonderful reason to trust God with those plans: his eternal and unchanging nature.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.(Hebrews 13:8.)

Even more than Tolkien’s assurance about the unchanging qualities of good and ill, we can rest assured that God himself has not changed since yesteryear. That’s why committing our plans to him is always the best plan we can make.

I’m planning on it.

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13 Responses to Friday Rewind – 11/30/12

  1. Jeannie says:

    Thanks for such an encouraging post! “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord: plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a future and a hope!” (Jer. 29:11)
    … and thanks for quoting from LOTR — so much wisdom there.

  2. Aimee Byrd says:

    Was privileged to have it on my blog. And today after reading it, I’m thinking of how much I still need this encouragement as much as I did in my early adult years. Although I now understand it on a much deeper level through experience.

    • Tim says:

      I was privileged that you would share your space with me when I had no idea what type of blogging plans I should pursue, Aimee. Thanks for your encouragement, helping me along the way.

  3. Mary Anne says:

    One of my favourites from the Appendices of LoTR, when Aragorn dies:

    In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound forever in the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory.

    And a good thing, too. Life isn’t so lovely to me right now that I want to be “bound forever in the circles of the world.”

    Also, with the film of the Les Miserables musical coming out so soon, I frequently find myself thinking over the wonderful lyrics in the finale:

    For the wretched of the earth there is a flame that never dies;
    Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.
    They will live again in freedom in the garden of the Lord;
    They will walk behind the plowshare; they will put away the sword;
    The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward . . .

    • Tim says:

      The other thing in the death of Aragorn and later Arwen is how this is contrasted to the fate of Elves. Elves have the gift of immortality unless killed in battle. Humans are mortal but the passage you quote hints that there is a blessing in this that is denied to Elves, something humans experience beyond their lives in Middle Earth: “beyond them is more than memory”.

  4. KSP says:

    Perfect timing! I’m in the middle of listening to The Two Towers on audiobook during my commute each day. I appreciate the real life connections.

    • Tim says:

      Who is voicing it? I would think the quality of reader might have quite an impact on the story.

      And isn’t it hard not to make real life connections from LotR to real life? Any one who says this trilogy is pure fantasy hasn’t done much living!

      • Mary Anne says:

        If that audiobook is the Rob Inglis version, I can highly recommend it. He does a wonderful job reading and even sings the songs—and has a fine singing voice, too. I own several audio versions of the trilogy but his is my favourite. He does The Hobbit as well.

  5. Love the Tolkien quote. 😀
    I just got around to searching for it. Somehow I missed this post back in November. . ,
    I Corinthians 10:31 is speaking to me this morning. Thank you for that.

    Looks like I will have to stick LOTR on my ever-growing TBR list! 😀

    • Tim says:

      LOTR and The Hobbit are among my fairly regular re-reads. I always start with The Hobbit as I want to be reminded of the full back-story when getting into the trilogy.

  6. Pingback: The empty table (and some thoughts on filling it) | Keri Wyatt Kent

  7. Pingback: Trading “I could never…” for “I just did!” | Keri Wyatt Kent

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