Pastor Sunlight Community Church & The Center for Church Renewal
Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10
The epic fantasy novel, The Lord of the Rings, has the oddest of endings. The ring bearer has made the trek to the fires of Mt. Doom. Frodo has endured the arduous journey through Mordor only to find he is unwilling and unable to fulfill his mission. Who would have thought he would fail after nearly spending his life to reach this destination? Frodo fails his quest. But the story does not end there.
Gollum has hounded them since the beginning. Lurking in the shadows or luring them into traps, Gollum is obsessed with the ring—his “precious”. He thinks of nothing else. Frodo and Sam have opportunities to end Gollum’s life but each time they stay their hand. The twisted creature deserves to die but they cannot bring themselves to end his life. Frodo recalls Gandalf’s words: “My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play in it, for good or evil, before this is over.”
Indeed, before it is over, as Frodo succumbs to the temptation of the ring’s power and claims it as his own, Gollum leaps from the shadows and bites off Frodo’s finger to claim the ring once more. As Gollum celebrates his “precious” in his delirium he is oblivious to his surroundings and falls into the fires of Mt. Doom along with the ring. Who saw that coming? I certainly didn’t!
As I reflected on this “oddest of endings” I thought about my own Gollum. I think Gollum represents my alter ego. He is the twisted creature I would be if I succumbed to evil. My Gollum haunts my steps every day. He is always lurking in the shadows. He seeks to lure me into traps. Nothing would please him more than to see me fail. I would like to kill my Gollum. And yet, he may have a part still to play.
My past mistakes, my current temptations, my lingering sins are always lurking in the shadows. Do they have some part to play in my journey? I am not suggesting we should embrace the darkness that stalks us—may it never be! I am considering the possibility that God can turn even the worst things in our lives for good. Maybe that’s the picture Tolkien had in mind as Gollum chomps off Frodo’s finger and falls into the fires, ring in hand. It is Frodo’s weakness, not his strength that saves the day.
I always look to my strengths to save the day as a leader. I want to say the right thing, make the right decision, and impress those I lead. I want to come across as though I know exactly what I’m doing. God has an odder ending in mind. His ending involves delighting in our weaknesses and His power shining through our brokenness.