The Gospel According to The Lord of the Rings: Week 33, "But Not Alone"

Frodo takes off the Ring and escapes the great, grasping Eye. For the moment at least.

At this point, in the words of Fleming Rutledge, Frodo makes a decision based on "two factors, one wise, one not so wise."

The first factor is wise in that Frodo is correct in seeing, given what happened to Boromir, that "the evil of the Ring is already at work in the Company, and the Ring must leave them before it does more harm." 

The second factor is not so wise, as Rutledge points out, for Frodo is "wrong to think he can go alone."

Yes, Frodo is wrong, but how many of us haven't done exactly what he does here? When we're facing the moment of crisis we cut people off or out and try to go it alone. Later, when it all crashes and burns, our friends and family look at us and ask, "Why didn't you say something? Why didn't you ask for help?" And we just hang our heads in shame and reply, "I have no idea. I didn't want to bother or burden anyone. I thought I could handle it on my own. "

But grace comes to Frodo in the person of Sam. And for my part, this is the moment where Sam really comes into his own as a hero of the story. From here on out, Sam's fidelity to Frodo begins to shine as the force that is going to get the pair to slopes of Mount Doom.

As Sam shows us, we need each other. A quote I've shared before from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

Help must come from the outside...God has willed that we should seek and find God’s living Word in the testimony of other Christians, in the mouths of human beings. Therefore, Christians need other Christians who speak God’s Word to them. They need them again and again when they become uncertain and disheartened because, living by their own resources, they cannot help themselves without cheating themselves out of the truth...The Christ in their own hearts is weaker than the Christ in the word of other Christians. Their own hearts are uncertain; those of their brothers and sisters are sure.

Help comes to us from the outside. Like Sam. Sam chases Frodo down, swimming after him and almost drowning as Frodo tries to slip away in a boat. Pulling Sam back to shore, Frodo tries to dissuade Sam, but Sam is having nothing of it:

'Now, Sam,' said Frodo, 'don't hinder me! The others will be coming back at any minute. If they catch me here, I shall have to argue and explain, and I shall never have the heart or the chance to get off. But I must go at once. It's the only way."

'Of course it is,' answered Sam. 'But not alone. I'm coming too, or neither of us is going. I'll knock holes in all the boats first.' 

Frodo actually laughed. A sudden warmth and gladness touched his heart.

As Rutledge comments, "As we shall see, laughter in The Lord of the Rings almost always signifies an incursion of divine grace."

And I just love Sam's words: "But not alone." 

As we face hardships and obstacles, and journey through the dark valley, may we speak these words to each other, over and over again: 

"But not alone."


And here, dear friends, is the end of The Fellowship of the Ring

Next week, The Two Towers.

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