When you’re a hobbit, adventures are “nasty disturbing uncomfortable things” that make you late for dinner, which a hobbit never wants to be. So you can imagine poor Bilbo Baggins’ frustration when an unexpected party of 13 hungry dwarves and one tenacious wizard (the only expected guest) showed up at his door craving food and drink, and then Bilbo’s company on their quest.
Bilbo made it clear adventures weren’t his bag. Even the dwarves agreed he wasn’t cut out for their journey. But the ever-persistent Gandalf insisted, “There is a lot more in him than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself.”
Whether he means to or not, Bilbo has been “chosen and selected” to go on the adventure. Likewise, those who put their faith in Christ are called to step out of our cozy hobbit holes and into adventure, particularly when it comes to faith. Remaining in comfort can stifle spiritual growth. Lead Pastor at Mosaic Pomona, Nathan Neighbour defines comfort as “one of the greatest forces that drives our spiritual journey in life.” He continues:
The dangerous aspect of comfort is not that it forces us to choose a life of evil over a life of good—if it were that obvious we might live differently. The call of comfort is to live a life that is “good enough” rather than great. Sinking back into mediocrity or comfort dulls our instincts for pursuing what is available to us [through Christ] and leaves us completely unsatisfied in the end.
Courage, on the other hand, is what propels us forward even when times are difficult. In her book Walking with Bilbo, Sarah Arthur says we can “stay where we are and refuse to move…But as all the great stories teach us, even that is not really an option—at least not for long.”
All throughout the Bible we see examples of those having courage to move out of their comfort zone and into a place of courage and faith. Mary and Joseph come to mind, particularly as Christmas approaches. Mary risked judgment and shame from her family and community by agreeing to conceive and give birth to the Son of God. Likewise, Joseph demonstrated great courage and faith by taking Mary as his wife when he could have discreetly broken off their engagement. And, as author and philosopher Kenneth Samples points out, “Christ modeled the ultimate courage in confronting fear, pain, and death on the cross.”
Here at RTB, we read (and hear) stories of courage from those who have used our resources to share the reasons for faith in Christ as Creator and Savior. Stories from people like Anastasia and Thilo who engage homeless young people at Venice Beach whose questions often lead to discussions about worldview philosophy. Or Hal who literally jumped into hot water (a hot tub) to discuss how scientific evidence points to a Designer. Maybe you have a similar story to share. If so, feel free to leave it in the comments section—we’d love to read it.
As for Bilbo, there are two truths we can learn from his story—“Never laugh at dragons,” and “You aren’t nearly through this adventure yet.”