By Dick Brogden
Jennifer and I took time this summer to rest, renew, read, and refresh. As part of the process I decided to re-read C. S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” and re-watch J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of The Rings.” Of the plethora of rich material one common theme reached out and smacked me: The allure of power—ostensibly to do good—and its inevitable corrupting influence.
This is the major theme in “The Lord of the Rings,” of course, where men, dwarves, elves, and hobbits are all tempted with varying results. The same idea is found in “The Last Battle” when Shift, the ape, convinces Puzzle, the ass, to don a lion’s skin and pretend to be Aslan so that “everyone would do whatever you told them.”
“But I don’t want to do tell them anything,” said Puzzle.
“But think of all the good we could do!” said Shift. “You’d have me to advise you, you know. I’d think of sensible orders for you to give. And everyone would have to obey us, even the King himself. We would set everything right in Narnia.”
And so it ever starts in our twisted human hearts. We survey the landscape and in judgment see what we think is wrong. We reflect on what we would do if we had the power to change things. Ambition creeps in and we tell ourselves that we’ll only wear the ring or the lion skin to do good. Ever so slowly and steadily our eyes shift from our current assignment to the one we wish we had so that we could “serve the greater good.”
I have fallen prey to this confusion over the last several years. With one eye on my present assignment and the other on the possibilities if only I had “the power,” I became cross-eyed and lost focus on what is the best job in the world.
- The best job in all the world is making disciples where there are none.
- The best job in all the world is planting churches where there are none.
- The best job in all the world is being a pioneer missionary on the frontier.
- The best job in all the world is proclaiming Jesus where He is not known.
- The best and hardest job in all the world is fighting for the lost where Satan has his throne.
Why do we want to do anything else?
In Isaiah 28:5–6, it is written: “In that day the Lord of hosts will be for a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of His people, for a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, and for strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.”
I think back to all those city- and castle-storming scenes in The Lord of the Rings. The vital action was the desperate fights at ground level where the hoards of orcs and other demonic beings swarmed towards the gates. That’s where I really want to be—in the thick of it all.
We are privileged to be assigned to turn back the battle at the gate. Our station is at the edge of hell. Our call is to those who have not heard in the most dangerous, difficult, and volatile places of earth. Who in their right mind and spirit would want to be anywhere else? Fighting at the gate is where our beauty and strength is found.
Let’s keep both eyes on the prize:
Lift up your heads, O ye gates.
And be ye lifted up ye everlasting doors
That the King of Glory shall come in.