The Life Worth Living

One of the things that I wish I had time for (and more money to do!) is to watch films. I love a good story, especially one that can be taken to heart and used to inspire people. This morning, a scene from one of my favorite films came to mind:

There is so much going on in this scene from “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:” Aragorn, the Ranger, has lived a life running from who he really is. (Spoiler Alert: he is the rightful king of Gondor). Instead, he has allowed someone else to rule over his kingdom for him while he lives a life of relative anonymity, wandering Middle Earth. Through the first two films, though, we get to see that Aragorn is passionate about justice, and the forces of good overcoming the darkness that is spreading over the land. So, he joins the Fellowship of the Ring in order to destroy it.

Fast-forward to this scene: Aragorn and his friends have fought bravely to this point, but all hope seems lost. After amassing an army to confront the forces of evil that will soon lay siege to his own home and end the Age of Man, Aragorn is faced with failure; they simply have not been able to gather enough forces to stop the destruction that is coming. Coupled with this impending doom is the imminent death of his beloved Arwyn, who has forsaken her eternal Elven life to be with Aragorn. But, as Arwyn’s father Elrond makes clear, there is still a way:

“Put aside the Ranger, and become who you were born to be.” Take up the sword that belonged to your forebear, and you will summon an army that cannot be defeated by any earthly power.

This is scary stuff. How many of us have grown comfortable in the men (and women) that our choices and circumstances have turned us into? Maybe we once tried to do, or be, something great, but then we got sidetracked…something distracted us from the path that we were on, and now we look back and we can’t even see that first path anymore. So we stay on the path that we’re on; the scenery’s not great, but we know it pretty well, and it would be so difficult to get back on the path we started on so many years ago. We grouse, and we feel let down, but it’s the life we know…the life we’ve settled for. And so we fool ourselves into believing that this is all we’ll ever be until the grave swallows us, so let’s just make it as enjoyable as we can until someone shovels dirt on our cold caskets…

Stop. Just stop. We are called to be (and do) so much more! Maybe the path you’re on is going nowhere, and it is downhill and it’s hard to stop the momentum…maybe you feel you can’t stop because you have so much excess baggage now compared to long ago…or maybe you feel that you don’t deserve any better. Stop all of that. You can turn around and set a new course. It’s not too late. It will take some work, and you may have to drop some things that you think you need along the way, but you can do it.

Recently, I’ve become convinced that the road that I’ve been on for almost three years is heading to nowhere, too. Distracted by wealth and status, I set my course to a destination that could never satisfy me; instead, I would keep pushing, keep going, never stopping…and then I was allowed a glimpse at the effect the journey was having on everyone around me. In my focus on the road ahead, I had allowed other influences to affect my own family, and just figured that “someone else” could handle these things. The wake-up call came in May, six months ago, when one of my children claimed that a parenting decision that I had made didn’t matter because “you’re never here, anyway.”

That was a sobering moment, and he was right. A few weeks later, I received an opportunity to manage a more local territory in a new industry. I was excited for this endeavor; I felt that there was tremendous upside, and I would be home almost every night. Almost three months in, and now I realize that this road is taking me even further from where I need to be than my previous road did. You see, I believe that we are all created with certain skills and passions, and in order to feel like we’re actually doing what we’re supposed to be doing, those things have to be lined up. What I’m doing right now: not so much. I am passionate about children, and justice, and giving each child a chance to “live the dream,” whatever that dream might be. I see the children entering the United States from Central America, and my heart is broken, and I feel powerless. These aren’t hardened criminals…these are kids the age of mine kids, even younger.

For a few years now, my wife and I have been involved with two organizations that serve children and families in impoverished regions of the world (including parts of the U.S.): World Vision and Unity4Orphans. We love the work that these organizations do, and we are able to make young lives better through our involvement. We are very passionate about our adopted daughter, Yesmeri, and her village in El Salvador. We know that our gifts have been used to provide clean drinking water for the village, and to pay for supplies for the school. Quite honestly, though, we struggle with the thought that we’re not doing enough, that there HAS to be a way to do more out of the time and resources that we have.

Recently, in the midst of thoughts about mission and vision and calling and passions, God has shown me again that He is passionate about justice and mercy, and offering our resources to the “least of these.” As I have dove deeper into God’s word, and the truth that is present in those sacred pages, I have become convinced that my own path has deviated far from where it needs to be heading. The time has come for me to put aside the life that I have settled for as well, and become who I was meant to be. I don’t know what that might look like yet, and it probably is not anything close to what I’m doing right now, but if God makes clear where His passions lie, and we pursue the things that He is passionate about, and we arm ourselves with the sword of his Word and His Army of Righteousness, then who can be against us?

Matthew 16:25

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