To Do What Is In Us

Other evils there are that may come, for Sauron is himself but a servant or emissary. Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.

The task was too large. The evil was too overwhelming.  The light had grown too dim. On almost every page of The Return of the King, the thoughtful reader is reminded of the Hope of the hopeless, the Helper of the helpless, and the One who works all His holy will. The stars shine in the darkest nights, always.

In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped most to hold him firm; but also deep down in him lived still unconquered his plain hobbit-sense: he knew in the core of his heart that he was not large enough to bear such a burden, even if such visions were not a mere cheat to betray him. The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.

I don’t think I could have picked a more perfect time to read the entire trilogy, even though I am a bit late to it. This time, the Crafter of coincidences clearly had much to show me. As I fret and mourn about the world my children and grandchildren are inheriting, He used this timeless story to remind me of my calling—to do what is in me for this day, for this week, for this lifetime. How kind He is to show me the stars in that dark sky.

A few other highlights from my commonplace:

The shadow that bred them (orcs) can only mock, it cannot make, not real new things of its own. I don’t think it gave life to the orcs, it only ruined and twisted them.

Reminds me of something I’ve heard Dr. George Grant say often, “The devil has no stories.”

Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend. It can be so, sometimes.

All things are in the hand of a sovereign God, even the heart of the evildoer.

“Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?” A great Shadow has departed,” said Gandalf, and then he laughed and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count. But he himself burst into tears. Then, as a sweet rain will pass down a wind of spring and the sun will shine out the clearer, his tears ceased, and his laughter welled up, and laughing he sprang from his bed.

Yes. Someday every sad thing will come untrue. Longing for that day . . .

Then at last, the heart of Eowyn changed, or else at last she understood it . . .

. . . under faithful Faramir’s declaration of love—such a beautiful picture of how the faithful Lover of our souls clarifies the confusion of our emotions. 

‘If I hear not allowed much oftener,’ said Sam, ‘I’m going to get angry.’

‘Can’t say as I’d be sorry to see it,” said Robin, lowering his voice. ‘If we all got angry together something might be done’

. . . ‘You won’t rescue Lotho, or the Shire, just by being shocked and sad, my dear Frodo.’ (Merry)

Instructive for such a time as this, methinks.

It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: someone has to give them up, lose them, so that others may have them. (Frodo at the Gray Havens)

How many have laid down their lives that I might, in freedom and peace, do what is in me for the succour of the years wherein I am set? And is not that exactly what we are called to do? We give up certain things (those longed for graduate studies, perhaps?) in order to help pass along the best things to our children, and maybe even to our grandchildren. And ultimately, what is really behind all of these gems mined from the mind of the great author? Is it not the gospel truth that the Lover of my soul gave up His life so that I may have the privilege of giving up mine?

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Tolkien’s original illustration for The Return of the King cover

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