On Fear, Leaving, Adventure, God's Voice—And Why We Do Not Follow.
I remember seeing this clip from The Hobbit (It's a gem, be sure to check it out above!) a year ago—back before I left on my trip, having no idea what I was getting into. These lines leapt off the screen:
Gandalf: The world is not in your books and maps—it's out there.
Bilbo: I can't just go running off into the blue. I am a Baggins of Bag End. [....]
Gandalf: I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.
Bilbo: I should think so—in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them …
Gandalf: You’ll have a tale or two to tell when you come back.
Bilbo: You can promise that I’ll come back?”
Gandalf: No. And if you do, you will not be the same.
Based on the places I've been this last year, you might think of me as an adventurous soul. You wouldn't be entirely wrong, but it might interest you to know leaving was far from an easy process for me. Though part of me did want to travel and explore, there was a big part of me that was a lot like Bilbo. Leaving, for me, had a cost. A big part of me wanted life as usual to go on, even though that life was not the one I longed for.
It was no small thing for me to leave a city I love, filled with people I care about. When I left home I took only what was in my backpack—everything else had been given away, sold, or put in storage. I left with no job or source of income—only an ever-dwindling savings account. I left not knowing what city, much less house, I would return to. I had no idea what job I'd be able to find when I got back. Would I be safe physically? Anything could happen—the world was a dangerous place after all. Anxiety and fear were companions I knew well.
Yet somewhere deep down I knew I had to go.
There was an insistent whisper from another realm. God's leading was an invitation, not an ultimatum. The consistent command? Play. And what is playing but following what your deepest self is drawn to, with no agenda but to greet what you find with delight and wonder? And in playing, an invitation to trust that God was with me, would make a way for me, and provide.
It was not easy to follow those leadings, life-giving as they were. Honestly, it would have been much easier to stay stuck in a rut and go on with life as usual.
There is a part of us that longs for adventure—wants to risk and follow our dreams, hears the calling of God and wants to follow. But there is also a Bilbo in each of us that feels like the whole thing is a bit of an inconvenience—even a silly (or dangerous) thing for dreamers or fools.
Yet, like Gandalf, One bigger and wiser comes to us, searches us out, tells us we are needed, and invites us forth.
We are not promised safety—the risks are real.
Comfort is optional—being stretched and challenged is guaranteed.
And if we do return—we will not be the same.
* * * One Warning: Should you follow (whatever that means for you), life as usual will fall to the ground and disappear forever.