Tuesday, December 31, 2013

We're in this together.........

I do like J.R.R. Tolkien, but honestly am not obsessed.  With the new Hobbit movie just out, rereading the book to Adam before he saw the movie, and our visit to The Shire recently, his works have been on my mind more than usual.   But the reason hobbits and dwarves have been part of my thoughts frequently this week has nothing to do with books or movies---it's because of a song.

"The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug" ends rather abruptly, but that fact is quickly redeemed by the hauntingly beautiful and strangely moving song by Ed Sheeran "I See Fire."  (Click on name of song to hear it!) Worth sitting for a bit more and listening to in Dolby while the credits roll.  Our kids love this song and it's heard frequently around the house these days. It's fortunate that I like the song because it keeps playing over and over in my head as well.

Yesterday as it randomly meandered across my subconscious mind yet another time, I wondered what it is about the song that 'makes' it. It's beautiful, yes, but that alone would get old quickly.  I decided it had to be a 'right' combination of the whole; music, vocals, and the words that strike an emotional chord and makes it worth listening to repeatedly.  

It's a song about tragedy.  Desolation coming with no reprieve.  Hope lost.  But in the song is intense comradery as well.  Words like, "If this is to end in fire then we shall all burn together."  It's about facing insurmountable odds, but with your friend who is even closer than a brother by your side.  Brothers in arms.  Brothers in battle.  Brothers in a cause worth dying for. 

Comradery, one of the deepest motivators of the human spirit.  Soldiers have known it for ages past.  Deep fellowship is the longing of our hearts.  Loving someone enough to die for them and knowing without doubt that they would do the same for us.  How precious it is when we find it!  And nothing brings people together like a common cause.

I've never been a solider but I've seen working for a common cause in action in what was our other home of the past several years.  While the foreigners working in the area were from different countries, often had different opinions and ideas, and different personalities, everyone came together because of a common goal.  If it was clear that something was what was best for the women that we served, then there was no argument whatsoever.  There was an incredible willingness to lay aside differences and find a common solution to whatever comes for the sake of the 'cause'.  The task before us was so great that it was worth shoving down our own pride because we knew that we needed each other and could not be effective on our own---and we all cared about something enough to do it.

That must be why Satan works so hard to divide the Body of Christ, destroy friendships, decimate marriages, devastate families.  Because 'two are better than one' (Ecc. 4:9) and we can do little on our own.  He is bent on destroying fellowship, wants us to turn inward, and fans the flame of selfishness into the destruction that he desires.

"Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.  For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.  These are not from the Father, but are from this world.  And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave.  But anyone who does what pleases God will love forever."  (I Jn. 2:15-17)

The battle for the mind is in the 'I'. What 'I' want.  What 'I' crave.  Looking inward at the 'I'.  It singles us out from the herd, makes us weak, makes us fall.  And it's an illusion of fulfillment that won't last.

But there's a stronger way.  One worth fighting for.  One that we were designed to crave.

"Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.  Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken."

We were made for comradery and fellowship.  It's the plan of the One who redeems and doesn't 'steal, kill, and destroy.'

"I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love.  I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God's mysterious plan, which is Christ himself (who cared enough to die for us--the ultimate Comrade in Arms!) In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."  (Col. 2:2-3)

We have a General.  We have a Cause (freedom and life!).  We have comrades.  May our goal for this coming year be to grow in love; love for Him, love for each other, love for the multitudes in need.  

"Many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and...God insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again." (A Year With C. S. Lewis)

"Let love be your highest goal..."  (I Cor. 14:1)