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Taking time to read the book

Written by: Bill Chapman, Founder, Camp Highland

My older boys and I met some friends out last week to see the movie, The Hobbit. Don’t worry, this is not a movie plug or review, but the movie did make me think about something. One of my older boys read the book, The Hobbit, before we went to see the movie. He had a greater understanding of the plot, the characters and even the ending of the movie. He still enjoyed the movie but it was a different movie for the other seven people in our clan and even more so if you had never seen any of the other movies in the series.  

I think if we could have paused the movie and surveyed the group about any one aspect of the movie, we would have gotten seven different answers. Every Tolkien story is filled with adventure and mystery. Tolkien is a master of telling a story that is woven together complete with epic battles, heroes, villains, and the tense moments that have everyone on the edge of their seats.  

Something stayed with me as we were leaving the theater. Timothy was the only one who had understanding of the characters that was based on the intent of the writer as we walked into the movie. He had an understanding of Gandalf as a good and powerful wizard, Bilbo as kind and good-hearted Hobbit and Thorin as the noble and courageous Dwarf King.  

We have so elevated understanding that our understanding is celebrated, revered and so often the only thing we really desire. Understanding has become a god. Christians navigate this differently because understanding is not the ultimate end. Understanding is essential but not in itself sufficient.

“Understanding is essential but not in itself sufficient.”

Our understanding is to be nurtured, and enlightened by the Holy Spirit so that we can have a knowledge that surpasses general understanding.  

Look at Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian Christians;

Ephesians 1:17 – “… that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power”…

We commonly make things smaller in order to understand them. That may work with finite things but it will fail us when it comes to understanding God and his ways.  It is only natural that we desire understanding, but it is supernatural to allow our understanding to be enlightened and developed by God. When understanding is a result of enlightened moments with God then we are developing an understanding that is genuine and based on the intent of the Author of the story! Like Timothy, I think we understand the characters and the plot when we have taken time to read the book. 

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