Why we should all be more like Sam Gamgee
Warning: “Lord of the Rings” geekdom ahead. But I promise it has a point!
Near the beginning of the classic fantasy novel, when Frodo has brought the ring of power to Rivendell, he attends a discussion where some Very Important People try to figure out what to do with the evil object.
Frodo hopes his part is over. After all, he’s just a hobbit. So many others seem more qualified to do whatever needs doing. Or maybe the ring could stay at Rivendell, the “last homely house” of the elves, where things seem safe and secure.
But in the middle of the debate, a dreaded conviction falls on Frodo, and he knows he has to go all the way to Mordor to destroy the ring in the fires of Mount Doom. He has to give up his life in order to preserve it. Otherwise Sauron will find the ring, and life won’t be worth living.
Everybody else at the council is arguing over position like the 12 disciples, but Frodo’s mission cuts through the noise and enters his heart.
Imagine if his neighbors back in the Shire knew what he was about to undertake. Imagine the wagging of heads, the scoffing, the well-meaning cries of, “You don’t mean to go there, do ya?”
(You don’t actually believe in this stuff, do you? The one ring and the dark lord and all that? You’re not actually acting on that belief, are you? You know you’ll probably die?)
But Frodo has left the unbelievers behind. He didn’t tell them where he was going or host a town meeting in order to justify his plans. He gathered three hobbits he trusted, and they started trekking east, as far as he knew to go.
So now at Rivendell, when he realizes he’s barely begun his journey, the only naysayer he has to overcome is himself. Everybody else agrees on the mission, even if they’ve been bickering over details.
So he speaks up. He volunteers for the quest.
Eight travelers join him, including his three hobbit friends — one of whom refuses to leave Frodo’s side, even when he tries to complete the journey alone. Samwise Gamgee, Frodo’s former gardener, will not be sundered from his master, no matter what. Frodo’s mission is Sam’s mission.
So, a question for me and you: Who refuses to leave my side? Whom can I trust?
The ultimate answer, of course, is God. But even Jesus sent the disciples out two by two. Like it or not, He means for us to do life together. With other people.
Maybe it’s a friend who opens her home to you. Or a family member who takes you to lunch when you’re going stir crazy. Or a significant other who helps you turn away from yourself and toward Jesus. What do these people have in common? They are serving you in some way — not because you’re high and mighty, but because you need their help!
“I am among you as one who serves.” — Jesus speaking, Luke 22:27b.
Spoiler alert if you haven’t read “The Lord of the Rings” or seen the movies: The servant Samwise Gamgee is the hero. Arguably, Sam is the only reason Frodo makes it to Mordor and back.
So, who are our Sams in this life? Who shows up consistently and helps out faithfully? More importantly, for whom can we be a Sam? Maybe it’s some of those same people.
Or who around us is following Christ’s mission to make disciples, and how can we support them in that? Who just needs some help in general? If our Savior was here as One who serves, then we are to be people who serve.
Our calling as Christians is impossible to fulfill on our own: to love God and love others, even to the point of death. And in the middle of that mission, we find ourselves neck-deep in life’s daily stresses. Most of the time, we’re somewhere between Rivendell and Mordor. If we try to survive there alone, the weight of temptation and of the mission itself will surely crush us.
But if we rely on Christ’s power — and let His people help us — we’ll complete our quest. And please, let’s be like Jesus and serve His people too.
Must-reads in this issue:
● Our cover story on 4 presidents of Christ-centered colleges
● Sarah Rein’s column on her new perspective on a new school year
● Cate McCrory’s testimony about how Jesus changed her friendships