I got a cold this week that knocked me out of commission for a day and a half. So lying in bed, sniffling and feeling generally sorry for myself, I pulled out The Hobbit by J.R. R. Tolkien and re-read it.
If you’ve not read it, you should know that the hobbit is a little person named Bilbo Baggins, who has some very unlikely adventures, culminating in an encounter with a dragon underneath a mountain.
Even though I think Tolkien intended The Hobbit to be an adventure story geared for children, there are plenty of serious moments in it.
There are several exciting battle scenes and a monumental “War of Five Armies” at the end of the book. But Tolkien points out that the “real battle” takes place right before Bilbo meets the dragon for the first time.
While he is walking down the tunnel that leads to where the dragon is sleeping, Bilbo has to gather his courage and intentionally decide to continue his journey. In the darkness of the cavern, without an audience, that is where the real battle of this adventure story is fought.
And I think that is true for most of us. We have triumphs and failures that many people see, and often those are the things that they will remember about us. But the real triumphs and failures of our lives take place when no one is watching, when we are alone with our consciences, when the only audience is God. Those are the most important points of our lives, and we are just going to have to be okay with the fact that only God will witness them.
In fact, I suspect that God is the only audience that matters.
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