As I watched “The Hobbit,” I found it much easier to relate to Bilbo in the Shire than to Bilbo on his adventure. Bilbo in the Shire is stuck. He’s weighed down by materialism, the expectations of society, and fear. He’s barely able to take a step out his front door, let alone the safety of his village. He can’t even venture to ask himself, “how might I lead a life of significance?” until forced to do so by Gandalf.
As a recent college graduate, and now working full-time with college students, one of the most common questions I grapple with and encounter is, “What am I going to do with my life?” Yet most of the time, asking this question is as big a risk I’m willing to take. It’s a question that becomes hypothetical because of its paralyzing nature. 99% of the time, I take the materialistic, expected, fear-driven next step. I stay stuck in my own little Shire.
And why is this question paralyzing? Underneath my brave question is a profound fear that I will fail. A fear that I will not do what God is calling me to do, that I will fall short of my heroes and values, that I will settle for comfort over the adventure. In “The Hobbit,” Bilbo fears that he will fail because he thinks that he lacks the skills required for the potential adventure.
Fortunately for Bilbo, Gandalf believed in him even when he didn’t believe in himself. Despite Bilbo’s reservations, Gandalf presses upon him an invitation he can’t refuse. God does the same for us. Despite our fears and reservations, God continues to invite us to take risks and play a part in His Kingdom.
In the next two parts of this Tale, I’ll talk a little about what it looks like to set out on our personal adventures. But for now, where are you feeling stuck? What are the particular next steps/invitations that you are afraid to take?