I love reading to my kids -- it’s such a joy to spend 20-30 minutes with them, before bed, firing up their imaginations and encouraging them to think critically about the things we read. I also do some voices for them although I am rather limited in my range. Right now, AJ and I are reading the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and I do a very thick Scottish accent for the Dwarves, a soft Irish sound for Bilbo and a very confident and loud regular sound for Gandalf. The Elves give me trouble because I think they should all sound British and proper but my British and Aussie accents often get confused and then before long, I’m spoutin’ a little German accent and things fall apart. The Trolls are great, they get a solid redneck, hillbilly twang and that about rounds out my capabilities. The nights I have them all in one story, it’s a theatrical mess -- but AJ doesn’t seem to mind. Truth is, he is loving it. The Hobbit has always been one of my all time favorite stories and I’m sure it will be for him, too. As a young middle school boy, this book maybe did more to crank up my imagination than any other book I had read prior to it. It’s fantastic with it’s characters -- Bilbo, all the dwarves, Gandalph, Gollum, Smaug and a whole list of others. Tolkien didn’t just write a story, he created an immense and immersive world that just pops off the page and is full of metaphor and pictures that make for great end-of-day discussions.
A few nights ago while we were reading, we came across a passage of the book that got me thinking about the Overboard life. Bilbo had just guided the dwarves safely out of the captivity of the Wood Elves of Mirkwood, and down the River to Lake Town. There, the dwarves are treated with suspicion and awe as many realize they may well be the fulfillment of ancient prophecy. Songs have been sung and tales have been told about the return of the great Dwarf king, and people are beginning to wonder if Thorin and his company of dwarves may indeed be the fulfillment of those prophecies. But during all the hub-bub, Bilbo notices something else:
“Men remembered little of all that [the legend], though some still sang old songs of the dwarf-king of the Mountain, Thror, and Thrain of the race of Durin and the coming of the Dragon, and the fall of the lords of Dale. Some sang too that Thror and Thrain would come back one day and gold would flow in rivers, through the moutnain-gates, and all that land would be filled with new song and new laughter. But this pleasant legend did not much affect their daily business.”
That paragraph hit me right between my left and right ventricles. How often am I guilty of singing songs about Jesus, proclaiming the reality of His coming Kingdom and raising my hands in worship to Him during one of our Saturday or Sunday worship services yet leaving the service afterward and “the pleasant legend did not much affect [my] daily business”? In John 14:1-3 John wrote of the reality of Christ’s return, and there Jesus says,
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” -- John 14:3.
1 Corinthians 15 ends with this description of Jesus’ return:
“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed -- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet...the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”
And right after Paul writes this, he ends with this:
“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord...”
In other words -- let the return of the Christ and the transformation of our bodies that will occur when He takes us home -- let the coming of the King of Kings “affect your daily business!” Let the reality of Jesus move you out of the comfort of the boat and out on to the water so that you can live your God-designed life serving where Jesus is building His Kingdom. Live the Overboard Life!
I don’t want to be like the fictitious men of Lake Town -- men who knew of the King, had heard of the King and maybe even knew the King, but were unfazed by that knowledge. May the certain return of God spur us on to love Him and love others, and all the more as we see that Great Day approaching.
Go ahead and take the plunge -- life is better on the water!