Five favorite quotes. That’s the challenge for this Friday Five link up at my friend’s blog, Mrs. Disciple. For a certified book fanatic (and travel junkie), this is like asking for my favorite five square feet in the entire planet. I could come up with five favorite quotes in the first chapter of my favorite book. So I’ll make life easier. Here are the rules:
First, the Bible is not an option. That would not be playing fairly. I mean, nothing else can compete, so let’s not even put them on the same playing field.
Second, these have to be quotes that have changed me or altered my ministry in some way.
And third, because me, length is not a consideration. 🙂
Here are my picks for today.
“Frodo: I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” (Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, JRR Tolkien)
I first heard this line in the movie theater, a couple months after 9/11. I hadn’t yet read the books, become a fanatic, and written my own book on Tolkien’s characters. But it hit me intensely there in the dark. To quote myself (does that make me one of my favorite quotable people? I dearly hope not. Pride issues!) “The pain was still raw, the fear still thick, the sense of shock that our familiar world was obliterated still overwhelming. So I heard the words that have become my favorite quote for the first time, and they sank deep. It summed up how we all felt then. The collective wish that such times had never, ever come in our lives.”
I’ve had other such times (read the guest blog that quote comes from), and the words have stuck. We don’t have the job description to choose our own times. Thank God. But we always have the choice about what to do with what we have.
“Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring but still intending to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.” C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters
I read this for the first time in college. It was a rough time. Eighteen years old, and I was trying to be a college freshman while dealing with my mother’s death and my father’s alcoholism. Fun times. And a shiny brand new believer who had no real idea what I had done when I made that decision to go to the altar. So here comes C.S. Lewis, tempting my intellectualism and my budding faith to come together. Telling me forthrightly that real discipleship means obeying despite feelings, appearances, and desires. Just like the Tolkien quote, it forced a decision.
Take chances; make mistakes; get messy! — Ms. Frizzle, The Magic School Bus
OK, not a book, a TV show. But this perfectionist had to learn to embrace her inner Miss Fizzle if she would ever be able to speak into where other people really were. Life is messy. It’s full of mistakes. And every day I tried to pretend it was not so meant chances I missed to fully connect. My kids taught me to listen to this crazy woman, and I am glad I did.
And another Tolkien, because, well, I have to.
“FRODO: I can’t do this, Sam.
SAM: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened.
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something.
FRODO: What are we holding on to, Sam?
SAM: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”
This is from the movie, not the books, but it takes parts of dialog from the books and puts them together. It reminds me to choose well what’s worth fighting for. It also reminds me that, no matter the darkness, no matter how much bad has happened, the sun wins. God’s new day wins. His kingdom of mercy and justice wins. It’s worth the fight, on the days I feel so weary in well doing. I tear up every time I watch.
And finally, a favorite from something I’ve read this year.
“Two thousand years later, John’s call remains a wilderness call, a cry from the margins. Because we religious types are really good at building walls and retreating to temples. We’re good at making mountains out of our ideologies, obstructions out of our theologies, and hills out of our screwed-up notions of who’s in and who’s out, who’s worthy and who’s unworthy. We’re good at getting in the way. Perhaps we’re afraid that if we move, God might use people and methods we don’t approve of, that rules will be broken and theologies questioned. Perhaps we’re afraid that if we get out of the way, this grace thing might get out of hand.
Well, guess what? It already has.
Grace got out of hand the moment the God of the universe hung on a Roman cross and with outstretched hands looked out upon those who had hung him there and declared, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ Grace has been out of hand for more than two thousand years now. We best get used to it.” Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday
This is what I was. It’s what I don’t ever want to be again. A gatekeeper at heart. Her words speak to my soul to keep me from ever going back to that place. Why was I so afraid to let grace get out of hand? Let it. I want to see it wash over every person possible. And God is more than able to deal with what comes after.
What are your favorite quotes? I’d love to hear. And if you want to read more, see the link up here.