(Posted September 21, 2015)
... let me orient you briefly and recommend your own reading of this book which holds great value for warriors in any walk of life, particularly those in military uniform. In short, this insightful dual biography recounts how the traumatic World War I experiences of two of history’s great Christian writers, C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia, et al.) and J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings, et al.), impacted their spiritual and emotional lives and shaped the themes embedded in their great works. I will provide several blogs reflecting on different themes drawn from Loconte’s insightful writings. This one will focus on “The Courage of Quite Small People,” the title of a section in one of Loconte’s chapters which discusses the nobility of individual warriors and their demonstration of individual resilience.
I have always admired the American soldier (in my Army experience), and by extension all members of the U.S. military, and their families. In particular, I honor our military’s ‘blue collar’ workers, men and women who do their duty despite not being in a position of rank or authority to know if their sacrifices even matter. While one might question the wisdom of Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg, or the sanity of World War I charges by tens of thousands of Allied infantrymen across ‘no man’s land’ – yet the nobility, courage, and selfless service of our individual military members is without question. Tolkien and so many others were understandably disillusioned by the seemingly purposeless slaughter that was World War I (with 6,046 average deaths per day for over four years); yet, Tolkien was careful never to demean the significance of the soldier at his post:
Diving deeper into Tolkien’s transference of wartime perceptions into his writing, author Loconte writes: “…the character of the hobbit was a reflection of the ordinary soldier, steadfast in his duties while suffering in the dreary ‘hole in the ground,’ the front-line trench.”2
Speaking specifically of the hobbit Sam Gamgee’s quest against insurmountable odds, Tolkien in Lord of the Rings writes:
Perhaps you agree with me that Sam Gamgee represents the ordinariness and the nobility that is within each of us. In essence, he became a true resilient warrior just as each of us are challenged to be resilient warriors, regardless of profession, gender, age, or status in life. John 16:33b (NASB) states: “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” Sometimes, for all of us, hope seems to die; yet, when we come to the end of ourselves, we come to “Christ in you, the HOPE of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
The message is simple, yet profound. We are all foot soldiers, small creatures, in the galactic struggles that rage about us. We seldom can know the degree to which our individual actions affect outcomes, seemingly wasted in the magnitude of the struggle. Most of the time we have to walk by faith that our actions do matter, our lives do matter. We have to walk by faith that our small, timid steps into the darkness epitomize the great nobility and courage that our Lord would desire of us.
From the pages of Resilient Leaders: “FAITH is the bridge which leads from FEAR to COURAGE.”4 The hobbits reached courage, despite being “quite small people.”
So can we – through our faith in the person of Jesus. To Him Be All The Glory!
1 Loconte, Joseph. A Hobbit A Wardrobe And A Great War, Nashville, TN: Nelson Books, 2015, page 76.
Put on your thinking cap.
Respectfully in Christ,
LU Institute for Military Resilience
PS: The next Institute for Military Resilience (IMR) Webinar entitled
"Honor to Whom Honor is Due"
will be presented by Major General Robert F. Dees (U.S. Army Retired)
8 PM on Thursday, November 12, 2015.
Join us for this very special webinar, hosted by Major General Robert F. Dees (U.S. Army Retired), as we celebrate and honor service members, veterans, and military families through the sharing of personal testimonials and stories from our Liberty University military family. Stay tuned on www.Liberty.edu/IMRWebinars for more information on how to honor your loved one during this webinar. Please also be sure to RSVP to confirm your attendance. This is one event you will not want to miss!
See you there for a powerful time as we give