“Just let go.”

Frodo stands on the precipice of Mount Doom, ring dangling from its chain, holding it over the brink.

He stares down at it, and the rhythmic pounding of the ring is now so loud it shakes the whole mountaintop.  Cultic lightning flashes down on the ring, and it burns into Froto’s eyes as if the light is acid.

And then Sam says it.

“Just let go.”

.               .               .                .               .               .                .

It’s been a journey of time, travel, battle, friendship, and betrayal.  Frodo has seen friends fight for them, enemies magnetize to him, and even one of his own fellowship overcome by the power of the ring and try to kill him.

He’s been stabbed by the sword of a wraith, a wraith so consumed by lust for the ring it knows nothing else.  He’s been almost swallowed alive by a gigantic sea creature.  He’s been tricked by a villainous friend into entering the cave of a monstrous spider alone.  He’s watched one of his dearest friends be dragged off the edge of a cliff as he gave Frodo time to escape.  He’s been beaten and almost stabbed by a nasty-hearted orc.  And the giant hand of a troll has groped for him behind the rocks of a cave.

And all this time, all this time, he’s been carrying the ring.

It’s the one reason why all allies have gone on this journey and fight for him.  And it’s the one reason why all enemies pursue him and fight against him.

And here he is, at the very edge of the world he knows, and only one thing, only one prevents him from total freedom.

The chain he holds in his hand, the chain that holds the ring.

All the enticement Sauron can muster to convince Frodo to keep the ring is in full-force.  A wicked delight pours through Frodo as he begins to dream what his life would be like if he just held on to that little gold ring.

All the power.  All the glory.  All the worship.  He could rule everything.  He could grow in metallic greatness as all the things evil loves most overtake him.  He can see it in the gleam of gold.

And he puts the ring on.

Evil hears the silent shriek of the ring, as it deals the deathblow to Frodo, and all evil comes running.

All allies have had their epic battle.  For Sam, it was Shelob.  For Aragorn, it was identity.  For Boromir, it was temptation.  For Gimli, prejudice.  For Legolas, connection.  For Elron, apathy.  For Faramir, worth.  For Galadriel, power.  For Gandalf, the Balrog.

And for Frodo . . the ring.

And Frodo won’t let go.

.               .               .                .               .               .                .

I heard the Lord of the Rings first when I was a kid, and I felt like something deep within the story had been left buried.  I didn’t like the series at all.

Years later, when the first movie came out in theaters, I tagged along with friends.  I was astonished at the exquisite depth of Tolkien’s world and I was again captivated, more so even than before.

But at the close of the third movie, as many times as I watched the series, I never understood why Frodo’s role ended without victory.

Tolkien’s purpose had seemed all along to engage me in the fight between good and evil.  In the end, the heroes all win . . . all but the focal hero of the whole series: Frodo.

Frodo loses his battle to the ring.  He does not let go.

Yes, the ring is destroyed.  Yes, Sauron is defeated.  But Frodo never lets go of the ring.

Even at the end of the story, when Frodo bows out of the Shire to take a ship to the land of the dead, I never felt like he’d let go.  The wound the wraith gave him still hurts.  And he has been so utterly captured by the ring that it’s like he dies a slow death after its quick death.

It was like . . the ring was the most powerful.  The ring won.  The world was rescued from its powers . . but the ringbearer wasn’t.  He had sold himself to the ring, and he couldn’t buy himself back.

It bothered me.  There are so many parallels between the fight for good and evil in Lord of the Rings and real life.  But what was Tolkien trying to say about temptation and evil in Frodo’s story?

I don’t know the answer to that.  But I know for sure I don’t want to be Frodo.

I don’t want to live my life on a journey for God’s Kingdom, only to betray everything I know and give in to the power of Satan at the end.  Like Frodo, I have a league of allies who have devoted their lives to protecting me from Satan’s lies.  I think of all the martyrs, missionaries, preachers, authors, and guides who have, by the power of God, stopped the onslaught of Satan’s army from overtaking the world.

And I think of Christ Himself, the forerunner of this epic journey.  Christ, who gave every footstep, every word, every act to drawing us to the Father.  Christ dealt the death blow to Satan’s seductive slavery over our lives.  He placed Himself in the hands of evil itself to die to evil’s worst and to prove, once and for all, that God will never give in to even the most powerful temptation Satan can ever muster.

And then Jesus died.  And evil was leveled.  Flattened.  Crumpled.

It was like Jesus took a sledgehammer and shattered the cages of sin that had held us captive for so long.  In fact, listen to how the Bible predicts what Jesus’ epic life will be like, many hundred years before Jesus comes to earth:

This is what God the Lord says—

he who created the heavens and stretched them out,

who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,

who gives breath to its people,

and life to those who walk on it:

“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;

I will take hold of your hand.

I will keep you and will make you

to be a covenant for the people

and a light for the Gentiles,

to open eyes that are blind,

to free captives from prison

and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. (Isaiah 42:5-7, NIV)

Because of Jesus, we don’t have to put on the ring.  He has proven, once and for all, that we really can throw the ring–whatever that is for us–into the molten lava where it belongs . . . and be free.  But we can do that one way, and only one way: by the power of Christ.

I guess that’s why Frodo couldn’t let go.  He just did not know about the Savior who has power over everything.

“All power in Heaven and over the earth has been given to me.” (Jesus, quoted in Matthew 28:18b, WNT)

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Thank you for such encouragement. It is humbling to me that my friends sometimes read my blogs and are so kind to me, even knowing my flaws. 🙂


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