There he was, 3 and a half feet tall, faced with saving the world; a task he was clearly not cut out for. He never imagined at 33 years old, he would play the lead role in saving the world he loved. However, due to circumstances beyond his control, this young man came to possess a powerfully, evil weapon, which he now had to destroy. It was him against all the evil of the world.
Last year, when God called Jon and I to the adventure of church planting, we had some of the same emotions exhibited by Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings. ill equipped, ignorant of what lay ahead, alone, scared, cautious, courageous, willing. When I watch The Lord of the Rings, I can’t help but empathizing with the character of Frodo. Even though he’s not the typical hero, I want him to win. I go with him on the journey, experiencing his victories and trials, as if I’m part of the story. Our journey of leaving our life in Springfield, Missouri and full-time corporate ministry, felt a little like that of Fordo leaving The Shire.
My favorite part of the The Lord of the Rings story, the scene of the movie that gives me goose bumps every time; is right after Frodo has resigned himself to take The Ring. After the rest of the candidates recover from their shock (and maybe relief), they decide to join him, to lend Frodo their skills, weapons and friendship on his journey to destroy The Ring. In this scene, we see a small, weak, inexperienced character, willing to face the toughest enemy, alone if necessary. However, the beautiful part of the story is that he doesn’t have to do it alone. Eight others step up and forge their partnership with Frodo, and they set out on the journey together. If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book, you should – it’s a powerful adventure story!
In June 2014, I had the opportunity to attend my first ever National Convention of the Church of God, and it happened to be a landmark convention, held in a new city with a completely different format. I had no idea what to expect, but I was thankful for the opportunity. We were able to spend the better part of a week: sitting under great speakers, connecting with friends, making new contacts, processing, dreaming and preparing.
For me, that week last year felt like this scene of Lord of the Rings. We knew in a few short weeks, we would be starting a brand new, big, scary adventure; we were probably as wide-eyed as Frodo. Spending time at the convention helped me realize, we had people journeying with us. In addition to our team members, many others were encouraging and equipping us for the journey. People were willing to lend us their expertise, tools, contacts, love, and support as we went out to face the world. Spending time with people in this network helped me feel like we were part of a Fellowship, part of a larger group trying to make the world a better place, together; fighting evil together and regardless of the odds, willing to fight what seems like an impossibly lopsided battle.
After convention last year, I had fresh wind in my lungs and a feeling of camaraderie on this journey. Many of the people we met at convention last year have continued to be part of our journey. Many friends have been valuable encouragement and support to us. I believe anything is possible if you have the best “team”. Frodo did it with The Fellowship of the Ring, and I feel like we are journeying with an equally able Fellowship.
One year after attending my first Convention, we get to go again this year! I can’t wait for what God will do in us and show us this year.