Saturday, February 19, 2011

Burdens That Are Too Heavy To Carry

Just finished watching Return of the King for the millionth time!

And I have to tell you, it's really started me thinking: who's the most important character in LOTR?

I know some of you are saying Frodo. After all without him the ring would have never left the Shire, right? Others of you might be arguing Gandalf (even though he's all talk and no action), Gollum, or--lest I offend anyone--Legolas. *rolls eyes*

But in reality, I think the true hero of the movie is one whose name may not precede a celestial choir. He's not typically the first guy that comes to mind. He's more of the sort wholly content to remain in the background, never asserting himself in public, always dependable, always positive, cheering from the sidelines, your number one back-up plan. I'm speaking, of course, of Samwise Gamgee.

Samwise the Brave. I admit I have a soft spot for this hobbit. Not because he's cute or daring or any of the things that make me swoon.... :) but because he's exactly the sort of person I hope to become.

Yes, Sam is the true hero of LOTR. And to those of you who disagree, I say this:
When the going got tough, those times when Frodo lost hope, who was there to spur him forward?
When Frodo lost the battle to that man-eating spider, who stepped in and saved the day?
Who saw through Gollum's guise of good intent?
Who walked with Frodo through the perils of Mordor?

In all the crises of the journey, it was Sam who carried Frodo across the finish line, Sam who literally saw him "there and back again." One of my all time favorite quotes is when they're crawling up the face of Mount Doom, Frodo slipping in and out of consciousness, and Sam cries: "I can't carry the ring, Mr. Frodo, but I can carry you!"

That line puts a knife in my heart every time I hear it. Because as weak as he is, he's still willing to go the extra mile--for the sake of a friend. And my eyes well up with tears because I wonder if I'll ever be that kind of person to another human being. If I'll ever outlive the selfishness and self-interest that prevents me from shouldering other people's burdens.

I think we've become an extremely individualistic society.  The trials we face, the heartbreak we endure, we're left to confront on our own. Oh, people wish you well. They'll even add you to the church prayer chain. But where are the kind of friendships that, like in Job, come alongside and sit with you in the ashes. for seven days. without speaking? Where are kinds of the friends that, when tough times arise, are willing to give you the benefit of the doubt... to talk through an issue and see your relationship to the other side?

I think of Anne of Green Gables and how Marilla and Rachel Lynd are constantly at each other's throats. How in the event of the "currant wine," you leave Mrs. Barry's house wondering how they'll ever stand the sight of one another again. And yet, there they are in the next scene, sharing a pot of tea...(not literally, but you know what I mean.)

That kind of relational constancy is disappearing more and more the older I get. And I stand corrected because I'm not nearly the friend I should, nor want to be.

But Sam...he ups the bar a notch. Shows us a new standard towards which we all should strive.
Because true friends never leave.

They're there when you need them, in sickness and in health, in good times and bad...
They listen quietly to your hopes, fears, and doubts, and dreams...
They support you when you're right and love you enough to tell you when you're wrong...
True friends follow from a distance when you send them away...
They show up in unexpected places...
They bring you closer towards your goal and defend you from the things that keep you from getting there...

True friends love at ALL times. (Proverbs 17:17) Even when you LEAST deserve it.

So the question is, what kind of a friend are you? Do you stick by through thick and thin? Or at the first sign of a storm head for shelter? You may not be destined to carry a burden. But you can ease the weight of someone else's, and by doing so "fulfill the law of Christ" (Galations 6:12).

Remember, not everyone is called to be a Frodo...

But everyone is called to be a Sam.

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