Iím assuming that most of you reading this are at least familiar with
the Lord of the Rings trilogy, written by J.R.R Tolkien, and just recently,
adapted to film under the direction of Peter Jackson?
Yeah, you know what Iím talking about.
Frodo, rings, elves, trolls, wizards, wars, and of course….Smeagol.
That little river hobbit gone bad.
The little half-naked creature fighting within himself,
in continual conquest for a little shiny piece of gold,
affectionately named, “the precious.”
To quote wikipedia,
“Originally known as SmÈagol,
SmÈagol was later named Gollum after the guttural, choking, coughing noise
he made in his throat. His life was extended far beyond its natural limits by
the effects of possessing the One Ring. His one desire was to possess the Ring
which had enslaved him. He pursued the ring for 76 years after having lost it
to Bilbo Baggins.
During his centuries under the Ringís influence, he developed a sort of split personality:
“SmÈagol” still vaguely remembered things like friendship and love, while
“Gollum” was a slave to the Ring and would kill anyone who tried to take it.
Does this ring a bell for you now?
Well, before I go on, let me just remind the reader that I possess a close personal
affinity for this little guy, mostly due to the fact that I like to impersonate him on occasion,
but also, because I know how he feels.
Now, by that I donít mean that I know how it feels to have all my goodness and love
corroded away by the influence of an ancient, all-powerful ring, but I definitely know
how it feels to be ruled by desires. And perhaps a bit more specifically, to be ruled by
those desires which explicitly mean to rob me of joy and ultimately kill me.
Smeagol was led away, enticed, and finally destroyed by his obsession with a chunk of metal,
and sadly, I donít think that Iím all too different sometimes. Granted, Iím not big into
mythological jewelry, but I am very very much into, (as I John 2:16 puts it)
“all that is in the world-
the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life…”
I donít strip down to a loin cloth and and spend all my time caressing a ring in a cave,
but I do spend plenty of time casting off self-restraint and stroking my own ego.
Whatís the point, Mike?
Why all this talk of Lord of the Rings and the
striking similarities between you and a cgi character?
Well, the point is this:
“the worth and excellency of a soul is measured by the objects of its love.”
In other words, we are a form of what we love.
Hence, Smeagol, captivated by the ring that was designed to rule and lord over all mankind,
was himself captured and enslaved to it. Neglecting even his most simple needs to serve
and admire the ring. He worshipped it, and it ruled over him.
The ring was precious to him…literally.
So this begs the question,
what then is precious to you?
For if Gollum here is any indication, you will inevitably
become whatever you hold most dear.
You will most closely resemble that which you find value in.
Whatever you love, that is what you will come to be.
And that of course, is quite alarming.
At least, it is for me.
Because as I have said before, I am much like him.
This world is a magnet after all, pulling and drawing me to all that it
has to offer, shining, sparkling, enslaving…
and itís no easy feat to break that gravitational pull.
Think on the mental and physical strain that Frodo underwent to finally
dispatch of the ring?
Now imagine if the ring was himself?
Or, for Smeagol, it really was himself, to the point of creating another self altogether.
Hmm, sounds like something Iíve read before,
“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members
another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to
the law of sin that dwells in my members.” (Romans 7:21-23)
So what do we do?
How do we find escape from this world, this self,
these rings of death that
promise peace, pride, and prosperity?
Well, Iím not an expert, but I guess thereís only one thing we can do.
We find something better.
Toss the ring in the lava and
lift our eyes to more lofty shores,
to life, to truth, to the true treasure.
To Him who is “Precious,” because
“to those who believe, the stone is precious.” (I Peter 2:7)
Is He then?
Is He precious?
I have to ask myself that everyday.
Do I fail? Yes.
Do I still get tricked by my little rings of self and lust and fear? Yes.
But do I delight in the law of God in my inner being?
Am I still fighting?
Am I still wrestling?
Is He still precious?
Oh, while we continue to battle these deceitful desires,
may we not give up. May we keep heading toward Mt. Doom, toward the freedom
that awaits us in the end.
Let us keep on fighting, until all we desire is Him.
And of course, then, and only then, will be made to be just like Him.
“We are forms of all the things we love.” -Jars of Clay