A HOBBIT’s tale, a tale of our own.
“Adventure undertaken entirely at Burglar’s own risk. Present Company shall not be liable for injuries inflicted by or sustained as a consequence thereof; including, but not limited to, lacerations… evisceration… incineration?!”
Bilbo Baggins read aloud the laughable terms that must be agreed upon in order for the quest to ensue. He then proceeded to faint.
Not a minute earlier, Gandalf had been praising the young, unassuming hobbit, touting his abilities that made him qualified for the journey. He noted Bilbo’s lightness of foot and ability to surprise all of the doubtful dwarves with a strength of character unbeknownst to even Bilbo himself.
A bit of back-story: If you haven’t noticed, this is a passage from The Hobbit. The excerpt quoted above is from a contract that would have sealed the deal, making Bilbo the 14th member of a team of dwarves. The team’s goal: travel to their lost homeland and reclaim it from a fire-breathing dragon.
Despite Gandalf’s praise, Bilbo, himself, and the dwarves loose faith his recruitment; Bilbo refuses the proposal and opts for the sleepy life of Bag End instead. The prospects of danger, death, and uncertainty aren’t tantalizing enough to persuade Bilbo to join the quest. However, to defend his choice of “burglar,” Gandalf later has a one-on-one talk with Bilbo in which he doesn’t sugarcoat things yet, out of a deep regard of his character, still urges the young hobbit to accept this venture… one for which he was specifically designed and destined.
The following day, after a change of heart, Bilbo joins the gang that had already set out. He signs the contract and doesn’t look back.
Enough with the exposition. What’s the point?
Bilbo had a task given him by Gandalf. The grey wizard was wise and trustworthy, revered by all. He saw something in Bilbo that made him outstanding, or worthy, you could say. This worthiness, however, qualified Bilbo for a feat filled with danger and risk. This worthiness threatened his way of life. Bilbo’s worthiness would change things forever.
If one were to read this plot without knowing the context, this “worthiness” actually seems more like a curse.
A Biblical parallel:
Mary was an unwed, pregnant teenager. In any context, this is a trying situation. In a traditional context, it is trying and dangerous. The wages of sin weren’t paid upon death but then and there, in the midst society. This, by all means, was one the most obvious and scorned “sins” of all. Take away the societal factor and imagine her fiancée, Joseph. The questions, the anger, the disappointment… all of this must have come racing to his mind.
Remember, however, Mary hadn’t sinned in the manner at all. To the contrary, she had found great favor with God!
She had a visit from an angel who praised her before any of these trials happened. He said, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” as well as, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”
Blessed, favored. Great words of admiration, especially from an angel of God! But with this praise came the mission. A mission of sacrifice and risk, a mission that could only be completed by someone God had found worthy, a mission that would save the world through the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Just as Gandalf chose the surprisingly courageous Bilbo for a perilous task, God chose favored Mary for a mission of the same.
In no way do I believe Mary or Bilbo thought of their mission as a burden. Despite the fact the fact that it came with struggle, scorn from others, and risk, their readjusted (and rightful) view of reality made the mission a calling and thus an honor.
It is the “everyday deeds of ordinary folk” (as quoted by Gandalf), like joining an adventure or having a baby or getting on a plane, that propel the Message forward, satiate our calling… or slay a dragon.
NOW… DO YOU KNOW THAT GOD CHOSE YOU?