Ringbearer or Firebearer?

“A corner learns to live alone.”

This was in a statement to the press recently, a brilliant defensive coordinator answering questions about a struggling cornerback. In football, the cornerback is required to cover the wide receiver, keep them from catching passes.  Because they’re often “on an island” with their receiver, they can’t always rely on other players.

When I read the statement above, I instantly thought of the moonlight mirror scene in “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring.” Frodo is carrying the One Ring to Mount Doom to destroy it and is juuuuuuust beginning to realize what this trek will cost him, and it rightfully scares him. He offers the ring to the fair Elven queen, Galadriel, who refuses it. Sympathetically, Galadriel informs him, “You are a ringbearer, Frodo. To bear a ring of power is to be alone.”

It’s a nice little literary plot: Hero toils alone bearing great purpose through obstacles until he is victorious. Who doesn’t love reading those stories? But who really wants to live it?

Each Christian is on a quest that began when Jesus left His disciples with a great task, carrying His gospel from the tiny nation of Israel to the big, wide world. They would face persecution (John 16:1-4), indifference (Matt 10:14), prison (Acts 4:1-3), and hatred (John 15:18). We are told that we shouldn’t expect to fare any better.

Jesus comforts them and us with a promise.

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” (John 15:26)

The helper is obviously the Holy Spirit. Remember the pillar of fire that led Israel in the wilderness, resting over the Tabernacle to show that God dwelt there? That’s why I love the visual of this verse from Acts 2:3,

And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.

The Holy Spirit – the very Spirit of God – came down and didn’t come as a pillar of fire hovering over one Tabernacle, but divided and rested over each believer who is the Sanctuary of God in the age of grace. This was the fulfillment of the promise.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:18-20)

Football is just a game. Lord of the Rings is just a movie. Our quest is a matter of life or death.

Thankfully, we have the creator of life and conqueror of death with us, always.

Even unto the end of the world.

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