Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Dragon Around the Corner

I had an interesting experience when visiting a church on Sunday. Whilst in prayer, I felt I had been given a word... a phrase to be precise.

I heard the words "courage in the quiet places"... and to be honest they've stuck in my head because on the face of it, they form a fairly random sentence and it's hard to discern what it actually means.

So I've been praying about it over the course of the past couple of days.

Eventually out of curiosity I resorted to Googling the phrase. I was taken (courtesy of the top result... and there weren't many), to a link to a 1995 sermon which intrigued me as it referenced a quote from The Hobbit:

Wisps of vapour floated up and past him, and he began to sweat.  A sound, too, began to throb in his ears, a sort of bubbling like the noise of a large pot galloping on the fire, mixed with a rumble as of a gigantic tom-cat purring.  This grew to the unmistakable gurgling noise of some vast animal snoring in its sleep down there in the red glow in front of him.

It was at this point that Bilbo stopped.  Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did.  The tremendous things that happened afterward were as nothing compared to it.  He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.

The dragon Smaug from Tolkien's The Hobbit

The quoting of the passage really resonated with me... and perhaps to a lesser extent the rest of the sermon did too. For whatever reason, I certainly felt invigorated in facing some of my contemporary personal struggles... as the bible quite rightly says:

"A person finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word!"
Proverbs 15:23
How good a timely word is indeed.

The reason The Hobbit quote ties in so well with me, is that I am often very much like a little hobbit stuck in a tunnel... hearing the faint rumbles of dragon breath  and watching the walls shimmering with eerie, ethereal glows from as yet unperceived creatures in the adjoining caverns that surround me.  I could choose to face any one of those dragons but have a reluctance to do so be it out of fear or uncertainty about whether it is the right battle to fight.

I felt quite inspired by my experience. I get the sense that I am being told there is a dragon around the corner; that it's one that I'm going to have to fight... and that I'm being invisibly prepared for it before I even  come to face it. Perhaps it is rather portentous that the chapter the quote is taken from is ominously called "Inside Information". Although this interpretation is by no means certain and I'm thinking and praying it through whilst open to suggestion; I am quite reluctant to share this directly with some of the people I'm closest to... because I have concerns that they will put their own spin on it... based on what they think is best for me. Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt they have the best of intentions... but sometimes the apparent best of intentions are not God's intention... and as I type these words, I am recalling a certain scene from the film, Kingdom of Heaven:

A king may move a man. A father may claim a son. That man may also move himself. And only then does that man truly begin his own game. Remember howsoever you are played... or by whom, your soul is in your keeping alone. Even though those who presume to play you be kings or men of power, when you stand before God you cannot say "But I was told by others to do thus" or that "virtue was not convenient at the time", this will not suffice. Remember that.

I intend to remember that.

Lately I have been feeling more and more forthright and confident in my opinions. While sounding out some of my friends and colleagues over the issues tied to my previous post, I found that one of my closest friends disagreed with me. At the time I got quite flustered about the gulf of difference between our opinions; then I recalled my words about the film Cool Runnings in a previous post... and I reminded myself that his walk is not my walk and his perception of my journey comes from his position on the road which he is standing, on his.

If I look Nick Payne, walk Nick Payne, talk Nick Payne and AM Nick Payne... I sure as heck better live Nick Payne.

The same applies to all of us. How can we be true to God if we can't even be true to ourselves (and vice versa).

So as we hesitate in our own subterranean labyrinth, steeling ourselves for what lies ahead... we find this one truth at work: 

Dragons may come, treasure may await... but whatever we face - be it adversity or ecstasy.,we must do so in our own inimitable God given fashion... with the weapons and gifts he has blessed us with and in the manner he has prepared us.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:10 am

    "Courage in the quiet place"
    An excellent article. Just found your blog, and am impressed!
    All too often Christians take courage solely from the fact that they are part of a crowd, collectively, doing the "apparent" will of God.
    But what if "I" am the only one who sees "it" like it really is? If I am the only one who hears the whisper of the spirit, whose conscience is tweaked over some vital situation. Would I have the faith to continue, alone, secretly?
    Is my courage, my faith in God, real? Do I need a back up crowd to encourage me and tell me I am "right", and "heroic".
    It is only in the quiet place, that this is proven. When God alone, will witness what we are truly made of.


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