“Ride out with me!”

October 10, 2009


Two weeks ago I sat across the table from a friend at local high school asking the question, “What is God doing here and how can we join him?”  Earlier that week I had been reading Neil Cole’s book Organic Church, which begins with a retelling of part of Peter Jackson’s portrayal of The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien.  It may be long, but I’ll quote Cole for you, as I did for my friend:

In…The Two Towers, we find that the good guys join up with the nation of Rohan, who are world-renowned as horsemen with agile and brave horses.  They face the advances of an evil army of Goblins, bent on the total destruction of all the people.

They find themselves in the throne room of Theoden, king of Rohan.  When the king comes to the realization that the enemy is on the move and bent on destroying his kingdom, he is faced with tough choices.  The counsel is to “ride out and meet them.”  But the king is concerned for the welfare of his people.  War is ugly and always accompanied by great loss.  In the past, they found safety behind the walls of a fortified castle known as Helm’s Deep.  With his shepherd’s heart and desire to protect those for whom he is responsible, Theoden announces, “I’ll not risk open war with my people.”  Aragorn, a warrior with the true heart of a king, responds, “Open war is upon you whether you would risk it or not.”

…Once in the fortress, the men feel a sense of security, but the walls are breached, so they retreat further to the keep.  Eventually the throngs of the enemy seize the entire fortress except for a small room with a barricaded door.

With the pounding of a battering ram against this last door separating the men from their annihilation, in helplessness King Theoden cries out, “What can men do against such reckless hate?”  Aragorn once again gives Theoden the answer he had brushed aside in earlier counsel: “Ride out with me.”

With backs against the wall, no way out, and no hope of victory against an army of ten thousand, this suggestion now comes across as only a way to die in a blaze of glory.  Theoden says, “Yes, for death and glory!’  Aragorn corrects him: “For your people.”  Theoden responds with passion, “Let this be the hour when we draw swords together!”  They mount up and charge the enemy on horseback, becoming the warriors they were always meant to be.  They meet the enemy head on.  As they plunge forward in reckless abandon, the enemy surprisingly falters at their boldness and stumbles back.  At that moment, reinforcements return to assist, and in the end the battle is won.  Evil is sent running, and victory belongs with the brave heroes who, against all odds, rode out to meet the enemy head on.”

At this moment our hope as ministers here in Holland is to be calling out the youth and church we work with for them to ride out with us, as we begin telling an alternative story where the universe-wide struggle between good and evil is already won, and we are ambassadors of the Victor King heralding his glorious, benevolent reign and rule in the world.

We ended our meeting dreaming together–“What is God doing here?  And how can we ride out with him?”  Sweet, exciting stuff…

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