One of the things I love to do in any spare time I have is to read. Some of my favourite novels were written by two men who were friends for a time in Oxford, England and met together regularly in a pub with others to discuss their unfinished writings.
The group was called the Inklings, and the two men you’ve probably heard of: J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.
Tolkien and Lewis both had a belief in God at some level, and had first-hand experience of the horrors of the battle of the Somme in the First World War and the fear of nuclear war breaking out at any moment. Some of the words they wrote have resonance with the time we’re living in at the moment.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and 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 us.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of The Ring.
“If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children…” – C.S. Lewis, On Living in an Atomic Age.
Neither Tolkien or Lewis ignored the reality of the world around them, but both quotes point to their belief and their desire to look beyond what they could see in front of them to eternity. They urged characters and their readers to focus on doing what they can with the time they’re gifted. Which sounds very familiar to those of us who’ve been reading and hearing from Ecclesisates over the last weeks.
It’s all too easy for us to get sucked in to feeling like we need the latest from the news or social media right now – I can tell you that I’ve been there many times over the last fortnight. But let us try and focus more on the good things that we have and that we can do.
Everything that is good in our lives and God has given to us.
Let us give Him praise and thanks instead of dwelling on what we have no control over.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9 (ESV).