In The Two Towers there is a scene in which Gandalf frees King Theodin from being controlled by the evil wizard Saruman. Saruman fights letting go of his prisoner, and with a tremendous snarl, lunges one last time at Gandalf before being silenced and forced to release Theodin. That makes me think of how satan works in the world in the life of Christians sometimes. Through different ways and means, he gets hold of us and ties us in knots, either in our heart or minds or in the consequences of our sin, and as we try to fight out of our own resources (or not fight), it becomes apparent that we need someone bigger than ourselves to save us. As the Lord works that salvation out, our foe does not always go quietly.
For the past couple weeks I have felt like I am in the midst of that final lunge, final roar. I have seen the Lord offer me great freedom and truth, but my sin and flesh and the evil one have dug in their heels for a “last stand” and the struggle is not ending as quickly as Theodin’s did. There are days when that roar has been more intense and pronounced, and I think, “That was the end of it,” only to find that not to be the case.
Now, I know that this side of heaven we will always struggle, and I am not speaking of a once-for-all lunge, after which I will be free from trial forever. Rather this roar is at a certain season, and I am ready to move into the next one. At this point, there is not much "joy in the margins" for me. I’m not very excited about our summer project coming up in three weeks, I don’t really want to live in my house or on my street. I feel overwhelmed by financial worries and by the prospect of wading into some very murky waters at my church as I come on the elder board. I feel very sad to not be in my Grace Life Training class, losing the community I had with my classmates. And I am still tired from camp because I have not taken any time off yet. All of that combines to make a bigger fight than I can handle and a louder roar than I can silence.
And yet the hymn “In Christ Alone” continues to call me to hope. His love and life are firm through the fiercest drought and storm. He has won victory and freed me from the grasp of sins curse. And as the places that I seek to find life and hope fail to bring me those, I am reminded and encouraged that I am to find those things in Christ alone. He knows my weakness and does not despise me for it, but accepts and loves me in it and is working to redeem it for His glory and purposes.
In some ways, this post feels like a Psalm. Often the Psalmist will spend a bunch of verses crying out, struggling, but usually in the middle or by the end, he orients himself to what is true about God and God’s character. Praise God that He and His truth are unchanging!