We were channel surfing the other night, and came upon “The Fellowship of the Ring”, the first part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. And, in particular, we came upon the part where the “Fellowship” is deep in the mines of Moria, surrounded by orcs, outnumbered and seemingly about to meet their end. Then, suddenly, the orcs scramble away from them as fast as they can. Something is coming from deep within the depths of the mine, and even the orcs fear it. Gandalf, their leader, recognizes it as a Balrog.
Now, I’ve read the book twice, and seen the movie at least as many times. I still shudder and want to close my eyes during this part, because it is so terrifying! The Balrog seemingly cannot be beaten. Yet, unbelievably, Gandalf turns and faces the monster and fiercely tells it that it cannot pass. He stands his ground, and, using his staff and magic powers, he hurls the Balrog into the darkness. Then, just when I start to relax a bit, the Balrog latches onto Gandalf with one of the fiery thongs from his whip, and pulls the wizard down into the black chasm. Gandalf is shown, clinging to the ledge for all he’s worth, while his companions look on in shock and horror. Gandalf looks at them and says, “Fly, you fools!” before he looses his grip and is swallowed by the blackness beneath him.
Aragorn understands the danger they are all still in, and gets them all out of Moria poste haste, and leads them to safety at Lothlorien, with the Elven Lady, Galadriel. There they receive some food and comfort and rest before they set out once again on what is now surely a doomed mission to destroy “the ring”. However, before they go, Galadriel assures them that as long as the Fellowship is true, there is always hope.
So, I was thinking about all of this. Of course, I know how the whole thing ends: Gandalf comes back ‘from the dead’, and Frodo and Sam actually manage to make sure the ring is destroyed. Mission accomplished. But not without great loss and pain and misery on pretty much the part of every character. And, even though Sauron does not get the ring, and therefore does not get to rule the world with his dark and evil tyranny, the world is somehow not as sweet and pure as it once was. Some damage has been done, although the ultimate evil has been averted.
I think there are so many parallels to life with that. Especially the Balrog scene. The Fellowship was saved because Gandalf stood up against seemingly invincible odds, and gave his life to save them. But, he also taught them the value of knowing when to run. So, it’s like that Serenity Prayer, of having the courage to change the things you can, serenity to accept those you can’t and wisdom to know the difference.
Sometimes, I just don’t know the answers, and am not even completely sure of the questions. Often, my life seems very much like that Balrog: an obstacle that I absolutely cannot overcome, and is about to consume me. I wish I had someone who could tell me when to run, because that’s the cue I tend to most often miss. And I definitely would appreciate someone I totally trust and look up to giving me rest and comfort and telling me that there is still hope.
Obviously, I believe that I have a Savior who has already defeated all the Balrogs, who stands between me and certain doom, and gives me comfort and hope. But sometimes, all I can see is that Balrog, and it sure seems like my Savior has disappeared!! I think that is where faith comes in. If I can focus my prayer on God, then everything else seems to just work itself out, and when I open my eyes at the end of the scene, the Balrog has vanished.