Not all those who wonder are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither;
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken.
J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Christian writers through the ages have depicted the Christian life as a journey. From John Bunyan’s progressing pilgrim, to C.S. Lewis’s dimension jumping wardrobe travelers, to Tolkien’s Frodo Baggins and company, Christians are on the move. We are moving toward the Celestial City, Heaven. When we arrive, we are to be different from who we were when our journeys began.
Encountering Christ changes us. And this change is a process that lasts our whole lives through. One cannot follow Christ and stand still. To do so means we remain steeped in the mud of our sin. We are not committed to the journey.
To come out of the mud, we need the encouragement of other Christians. They need encouragement from us. We come from the mud to walk in the dust. Christ washes our feet. And along the way, we come to resemble Him.
This great adventure is Christianity. It isn’t always fun or exciting. Sometimes it’s tedious, even heart wrenching. That’s why we need each other.
Some critics say that Christianity should not ask people to change. That a loving God accepts everyone. We say, He does love everyone. Very much. He does accept us as we are. But He commands us to let Him shape us into new people because He loves us. He loves us enough to lift us from the mud and set us on our path.
It’s not the adventure alone that changes us. His Spirit guides us through His Word and through fellow Christ followers, each other.
That’s what a pilgrim, four children, and Frodo and his friends all learned.
Sometimes those who’ve been traveling for some time are all but unrecognizable to those who knew them before their journeys began. There is a boy at my church who, when he first started coming, couldn’t sit still even though he was past the age when he should. He irritated the van driver and the youth workers. People loved him anyway. He found the kind of love you can call in the middle of the night or any time things get bad.
This boy began to walk the road of following Christ. He began to recognize conviction. He began to see his need to let God change him.
I don’t know where his journey will lead. I’m not sure he will remain on the right road. But I know God is calling him to keep walking. God has called him out of the mud and to the new path.
Our journeys will take us down unfamiliar highways. But as we wander in faith, we will not be lost. Faithful wandering produces deeply rooted faith. Such faith is not undone. It does not die.
Through frost or fire, deep roots emerge again to bring life from mud.
Christian community encourages us. We step out of the mud, walk the road, and call others to walk with us. We encourage them on their way. That road is the way to purpose, meaning, and becoming like Christ.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”