Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions
The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a great movie success. Filmed in beautiful New Zealand, the three films brought J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic novels to life. Maybe you saw them. The novel The Lord of the Rings was one of the most successful books of all time. And the movie ended up with 11 Oscars.
In the second epic story (The Two Towers), Frodo, the hero, reached a point of despair. He’d had enough. And he needed some encouraging words from his friend Sam:
“It’s like in the great stories, Mr Frodo…Full of darkness and danger…Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding onto something.” At that point, Frodo asks, “What are we holding onto Sam?”
I think it’s quite a significant question for you and I today to ask, What are you holding onto? Do we sometimes feel overwhelmed by some sense of darkness and despair? What is it that gives your life meaning and purpose?
Dr Victor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor and a psychotherapist, wrote a wonderful book titled Man’s Search For Meaning. The book is now in its 73rd printing. It has been published in twenty languages, and the English editions alone have sold over 2.5 million copies. When asked about the success of his book, Frankl replied:
I do not at all see in the best-seller status of my book so much an achievement and accomplishment on my part, as an expression of the misery of our time; if hundreds of thousands of people reach out for a book whose very title promises to deal with the question of meaning in life, it must burn under their fingernails.
Living in the past
It’s a huge topic and many other books have been written on the same subject—discovering the meaning of life. What are you holding on to? Do you want your life to be filled with meaning and purpose? Will success do it?
It didn’t for Buzz Aldrin. Remember Buzz Aldrin? Back in July 1969 we listened intently to the radio as first Neil Armstrong and then Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon. These two men quickly became household names. Their accomplishment was legend. Years have passed since the moonwalk.
What you may not know about is Buzz Aldrin’s later emotional breakdown and his slow, painful recovery.
What had happened? He said it resulted from the terrible disillusionment he felt after working so hard, achieving every goal set before him, and then finding it all empty when it was over. His dreams, fantastic though they were, were not lasting enough. He walked on the moon, but after that—serious depression and alcoholism ruined his life. His mother had committed suicide and he battled with issues. Despite being a famous man, he needed something else.
Despite being a famous man, he needed something else.
- Are you thinking the same old thoughts and feeling the same old emotions?
- Are you listening to messages from long ago?
- Are you playing the same old scenarios over and over again in your head?
- Are you telling yourself the same old stories over and over?
You are not alone. It seems that an affliction of being human is that we are susceptible to living in the past. But, there is hope! Sometimes we hold onto stuff that holds us back. We need a new vision of life and ourselves. And the key word is ‘surrender’—surrender to Almighty God as revealed in the Bible. A God who loves you with an everlasting love. Who says, I have called you by name—you are mine and I want to share life with you today and into eternity.
What are you holding onto that you need to let go of today? A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the half empty or half full question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: How heavy is this glass of water? Answers called out ranged from 8 to 20 ounces. She replied:
The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it.
The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralysed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.
The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralysed—incapable of doing anything.
Remember to put the glass down. Replace it with trust in God just as King David did. In Psalm 31 he says:
But I trust you, Lord,
and I claim you as my God.
My life is in your hands. (Psalm 31:14-15 – CEV).