while there’s life

Dec 8, 2012

While there’s life there’s hope.

This line from The Hobbit jumped out at me and spurred all sorts of thoughts in my brain. Bear with me while I try to sort them out and share them with you in some semblance of coherency.

I think this theme of keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep working, keep trying, keep doing, keep becoming, keep on keeping on, no matter what the odds are against you, has become my take home message from Tolkien’s writings. It doesn’t matter how hopeless it looks. It doesn’t matter how absolutely impossible it appears. Our job is to keep trying…and to believe in some small recess of our soul (or our whole soul if we can muster it) that there is hope. Our task is to let God do what He will and to keep on working so He can do what He will. I must need to hear that lesson because it continues to jump out at me whenever I read his works.

There is not much hope that Bilbo and the dwarves will succeed in killing Smaug and reclaiming their treasure. There isn’t even much hope they will ever even get to Smaug alive in the first place. Despite the odds against them, they feel called to redeem their land, their home, their treasure, and their family’s honor. Time and time again it seems there is no way out of their predicaments and time and time again they are rescued or shown a new way or provided a solution to their obstacle.

Every single time.

In The Lord of The Rings, the task is even more impossible. It is completely ridiculous for anyone to believe for a moment that the nine members of the Fellowship have any chance of success in their quest to destroy the ring.

And yet, they set out with determination to do their best. They keep trying. And God works miracles. He delivers them. He sends help. He gives them small pieces of encouragement. He gives them ideas. He places people in their path at just the right time.

Just like He does for us.

They keep moving forward even when injured. They keep trying even when members of their fellowship are kidnapped and killed. They keep their faith alive even when darkness and evil appear to be winning. They keep doing their part even when Frodo is bitten by the spider and wrapped up for her to eat. In a last-ditch effort to give Frodo a little more time to reach Mt. Doom they mount a distraction effort at the Black Gate where they “know” they will be killed.

Galadriel tells Frodo “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” I believe that. I want my children to believe that. I want each and every child of God to know they have power and influence and capability to change the world. This saying hangs on the wall of our school room and I read it almost every day. It inspires me to live truer to my ideals and to keep hope alive in my heart that each of can bless and serve and love and that those things CAN and DO make a difference.

The key to this, I think, is Bilbo’s father’s advice, “While there’s life there’s hope.” There is always hope. Even when it doesn’t look like we should have any hope, we can still have hope because we are alive and can keep doing small and simple things (or big and wonderful things) to change the course of the future. There is hope because other people are alive and doing small and simple things in their lives and those things change the course of our future and the future. Most of all, there is hope because Jesus is alive and His life is the source of all hope. His life provides the way to peace and joy in our lives. His life is the roadmap for our return to God. His life and his atoning sacrifice provide the only hope we have.

What gives you hope?

p.s. I took this quiz the other day to see which character I am most like in Tolkien’s writings…pretty funny results:

YOU ARE MOST LIKE A: WIZARD. You’re a peacemaker, a do-gooder, a leader in a land fraught with peril. Like a wizard, you’re a bad*** cloaked in the body of an average joe. You never turn your back on a friend or a crisis. You’re selfless, intelligent, and you enjoy a well-lived life on the road.

I love that…a leader in a land fraught with peril. Exactly what I want to be!

If you take the quiz, I would love to know what your results are!

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  1. I love these thoughts! Thank you for sharing– I needed to read them today.

    (And I think “Wizard” fits you exactly!)

    Love from your Hobbit friend,

    • tracy


      Paste the Hobbit description in here so I can read it!

      Love you!

  2. Heather

    People do say my fingers look like little smokies…my toes too. :) Below is a very close statement about me.

    You are most like a: Dwarf

    You’re an earthy type – literally. Like a dwarf, you’re not afraid of hard work or getting your hands dirty. You’re the first to answer danger’s call. You love adventure, though you tend to be mistrustful of others. You’re strong, deft with an axe and deeply loyal to those you love.

    • tracy


      A dwarf? Too funny! I love “you’re not afraid of hard work or getting your hands dirty.” What a great trait to have!

  3. Tam

    You are most like an: Elf

    You have an affinity for nature and the arts, like an elf. Your tastes are refined; you’re more elegant than most, and you’re discriminating about who you affiliate with. Some say you’re stuck up, but you’re not ashamed that you take such good care of yourself and your family – who wouldn’t want to flaunt all this?

    …. Weird questions and not enough of them. I don’t think this fits me at all.

    • tracy

      Hmmm, I wouldn’t say an Elf for you either…but what would I say? I don’t know!

      You can come be a wizard with me and we will be leaders in a land fraught with peril!