The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

Are You Ready for God’s Great Adventure?

Posted on: February 14, 2017


In J.R.R. Tolkien’s book, The Hobbit, the good wizard Gandalf encourages the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, to go on a great adventure to help recover a vast treasure from the dragon, Smaug.

Gandalf: The world is not in your books and maps. It’s out there.

Bilbo Baggins: I can’t just go running off into the blue! I am a Baggins of Bag End!

Gandalf: You are also a Took. Did you know that your Great-Great-Great-Great Uncle Bullroarer Took was so large he could ride a real horse?

Bilbo Baggins: Yes.

Gandalf: Well he could! In the Battle of Greenfields, he charged the Goblin ranks. He swung his club so hard it knocked the Goblin King’s head clean off and it sailed a hundred yards through the air and went down a rabbit hole. And thus the battle was won and the game of golf invented at the same time.

Bilbo Baggins: I do believe you made that up.

Gandalf: Well, all good stories deserve embellishment. You’ll have a tale or two to tell of your own when you come back.

Bilbo Baggins: …Can you promise that I will come back?

Gandalf: No. And if you do… you will not be the same.

Well, in spite of himself, Bilbo went on the great adventure, and when he returned, three things were true…

  1. He returned wealthy
  2. He had tales to tell (eventually writing them in a book, which he later gave to his nephew, Frodo)
  3. He was, indeed, not the same.

There were times on the great adventure when Bilbo thought he might not survive. There were times when he wished he had never embarked. There were times he regretted that Gandalf had ever brought it up.

But in the end, who he’d become and the stories he had to tell, were so great that if he could turn the clock back to before he made the decision to go on the great adventure – knowing what he knew at the end – he would go again!

The story of The Hobbit is a parable for us all. God invites each of us to go on a Great Adventure. And, through the Scriptures, lets us know that if we go, we will return wealthy, will have stories to tell, and will not be the same.

The invitation is found in Romans 12:1-2, Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

So, the call is to abandon ourselves to God’s will, to follow Him wherever His will takes us. That is the Great Adventure.

When we do, Scripture tells us that we will return wealthy. We will be rewarded for our good works on the journey (2 Corinthians 5:10). But the idea of rewards for good works pales in comparison to the reward of just being able to live in fellowship and harmony with God forever (John 17:20-23).

So, we return from our Great Adventure with great wealth.

In addition, we will have tales to tell. In 2 Corinthians 11:24-27, the apostle Paul, told his tales:

Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep; on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;  I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

Then we see tales being told in Revelation 12 where believers overcome the devil because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony. They tell their story of their loyalty to Jesus in the face of great persecution and even death. That story had great power (helped them overcome the devil, vs. 11) and is so meaningful that it is heralded in the halls of heaven and recorded in the annals of Scripture.

Our tales may not be as grand as Paul’s or those who face death in the book of Revelation, but they are our tales… of the times God proved faithful, of the times we almost gave up but God’s grace was sufficient, of the change God made in our lives as a result of trials, of our testimony that what we sacrifice in the pursuit of God’s will pales in comparison to what God gives us in return.   Our tales will mean a great deal to us because they will be the tales of God’s work in our lives, not someone else’s, and of what He did in us and through us.

Finally, we will not be the same. We will be transformed from what we looked like when we started (Romans 12:2).  We will be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). And that transformation into the character image of Christ will be the greatest gift of all.

Bilbo almost didn’t go: he said he wouldn’t, but in the end he did. And, he came back wealthy, had tales to tell, and was a different person.

The question is, will we go on the journey God calls us to? If we do, there may be times we think we will not survive, times we may regret that we ever embarked, times we wish the idea had never come up. But if we go, when the journey is complete, we will have wealth, we will have our tales to tell, and we will not be the same. And it will all be more than worth it.

Part of our story will be the same as Paul’s when he said, in Romans 8:18,

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed to us!”

Onward – to your great adventure with God!


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