Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Samwise and Us

The Lord of the Rings has been one of my favorite movies since it came out a few years ago. I went out and bought the extended edition trilogy as soon as it came out in stores. The story of Frodo and the Fellowship is pretty great, but what I loved most about the story was one little character - Samwise Gamgee. I fell in love with him after seeing the movies once. (I'm sure I would be even more in love with him if I read the books, but y'all know me ... I don't read. So we'll just stick with his movie character self, which is pretty daggone heroic and honorable and loyal and all of those good qualities.)

I love Samwise because he is all of those things I just mentioned and so much more. He is, in many ways, my hero! No joke! It's goofy ... but if you think about who Sam really is, he is an amazing example for us to follow, and we can connect his life and his loyalty to Frodo to us and our loyalty to Christ.

Stay with me ... this is good.

Sam CHOSE to follow after Frodo in his mission of the ring.
Sam not only followed Frodo but PROTECTED him and STAYED TRUE to him.
In other words, he was LOYAL beyond imagining.
Sam laid his life on the line for Frodo every single day of the journey.
It did not matter what he might endure, Sam was not about to let anything bad happen to Frodo.
He was not about to let Gollum turn Frodo from the path of Mount Doom if he could help it!
Sam gave up his food and drink so that Frodo could go on.
Sam fought, defeated, and almost died protecting Frodo from Shelob.
Sam carried Frodo up the side of Mount Doom.

Sam is truly amazing.
No matter what the cost, he carried on (and carried Frodo!), honoring Frodo, and really, the rest of the Fellowship and all of Middle Earth, by remaining loyal, steadfast, courageous, and selfless even when it cost him everything. Wow ... I love Samwise!

Sam could be seen as Jesus in our lives .... he gave up everything so that we could live.

But I want to look at Sam as being us ... or rather ... how we SHOULD be.
Sam is our example in this case.
He served and loved and remained loyal to his master (Frodo) no matter what the cost.
Are we doing that for our Master and Lord, Jesus Christ?
I want to!
I want to be loyal to Christ no matter what!!!

To be loyal means to be faithful.
And as I've thought more and more about this character,Samwise Gamgee, I've thought more and more about what it would take to be like him. And I've come up with three important things.

#1 - Prayer.
I cannot be loyal to Christ on my own. I am fallen and lazy and selfish. I do not want to work at this thing called a relationship with Jesus in and of myself. So I must ask ... I must CRY OUT to Jesus to help me say "NO!" to my fleshly desires and instead, live a life that honors my Master.
Psalm 86:11 says, "Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your name." ... That's what it takes. If I want to be completely loyal to my Master, I must ask Him for His help.

#2 - Obedience.
My two favorite scenes in the entire LOTR trilogy show Sam living in obedience, sacrifice, and loyalty to his master, Frodo - when Sam fights and defeats Shelob in her lair and when he carries Frodo up the side of Mount Doom. In Shelob's lair, we see Sam crying over Frodo's (presumed to be) dead body. "Don't go where I can't follow," Sam says to Frodo, as he cries for the loss of his friend and master. At the foot of Mount Doom, Sam shouts, "I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you," as he picks Frodo up and carries him, with tears in his eyes. .... That's what we need to do. Just as Sam was obeying his promise to stick with Frodo every step of the way, no matter what, we also need to obey Christ in every area of our lives ... even to the point of tears. Joshua 22:5 says, "But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to obey His commands, to hold fast to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul." We must hold fast to Jesus, remain faithful to Him, obey Him, and serve Him ... love Him with all that we've got! That, is when we walk in true obedience.

#3 - Sacrifice.
Sacrifice is probably the most important thing to keep in mind when striving to remain loyal to Christ. Keeping Christ at the center of our lives does not come easily. As depraved beings, we desire selfish, sinful things. We don't want to work. We don't want to be pure and lovely and excellent and praiseworthy. We don't want to honor Christ .... not in and of ourselves, we don't. So loyalty requires sacrifice. Matthew 16:24-25 says, "Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it." Jesus told us ... warned us that living for Him is not easy ... far from it. He told us ... "Hey, look here ... if you really want to follow Me as my closest friends and companions, you must deny yourselves. You must get rid of yourselves! You must forget your desires and take on Mine!" That's a hefty order, eh? .... God wants us. He wants ALL of us. And that's what loyalty is ... giving God EVERY piece of yourself. Did you get that, Mical? Being loyal to Christ is giving Him, entrusting Him with, and honoring Him with EVERY piece of your life.

Sam gave up EVERYTHING to follow Frodo, to serve him, protect him, love him ... honor him. And we must do the same.

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