Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

January 01, 2004

Happy New Year!

As I suggested in my last post, I really do feel a sense of newness, something like the feeling of setting out on a journey . . . and is it all because the calendar changed? Or is it because I've just started reading The Fellowship of the Ring? I've been thinking a lot about Tolkien's story lately (as have many others of course). I think that what ultimately makes the whole darn thing so utterly satisfying is the sense one has of the interplay of all things, all events, circumstances, and ultimately every aspect of creation in this great contest of good and evil. One may debate just how "Christian" this story is, but it is in some ways an embodiment of Romans 8:28. In Middle-Earth, despite the constant (and ever-increasing) presence of evil, one has this sense that some power greater even than Sauron's, and greater than the sum of all the "goodness" of good wizards, elves and wandering kings (etc.), is also at work, and ultimately bringing to pass His good ends. And I think this is very satisfying for the reader, and brilliant in its way. Frodo passes through fire, as it were, and so does all of Middle Earth. He is an example of the cross-carrier unequaled in all literature, I think.

But I was talking about the new year. And I think, yes, I have this sense of starting out, this sense that is so exciting and so necessary, I might even say, to our happiness. Yes, I have started out again on an imaginary journey with Frodo and company. And yes, our church will be starting soon with Rick Warren's Purpose-Driven program, which also excites me deeply. And finally, I am starting out also on a path toward developing a personal ministry of encouragement. So all this is working together to give me this sense, I think.

I will end here, but first a quote. This is from Calvin Miller's The Power of Encouragement:

We have a commission from our Lord: Use your life to build others up! Each affirmative act or word must issue from our need to be like Jesus. Each time we bless a hurting soul, we act as good stewards of Christ's love, so freely given to us. Our encouraging words are kudos from our King. They are a serum of grace for the plague of self-loathing. We can and should do something to help color our drab world with beauty and truth. We are sent to demonstrate to our isolated world that God has not left us friendless.


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