Friday, February 12, 2016

Romance and the Journey of Faith

G. K. Chesterton, in his classic book, “Orthodoxy,” tells the story of a man who sets out in a boat from his beloved England on an adventure of discovery. Caught up in a storm, he loses any sense of direction, as he is driven on by the gale-force winds. But soon the skies clear and he espies land in the distance. As he approaches shore, he can see a strange palace with onion-shaped spires. He pulls to shore, thinking he has discovered some exotic isle, only to find that the palace is the Royal Pavilion at Brighton Beach. He has arrived back home in England!

Chesterton tells us that this is what “romance” means in the classical sense. It is not just a feeling of dreaminess or infatuation. Instead it is a combination of a sense of adventure and of coming home.

As a life-long fan of J. R. R. Tolkein, Chesterton’s definition of romance helps me understand something fundamental about his Middle Earth fantasies. Bilbo goes on an adventure and returns home again. And his memoirs are titled,, “There and Back Again: A Hobbits Holiday.”

And “The Hobbit” is only the prequel to the much weightier tome, “The Lord of the Rings.” But once again, in the larger work, the hobbits set out on an adventure only to return home. It is significant that Sam (perhaps the real hero of the story), returns to his home and family with the closing words of the book, “Well, I’m back.”

There and back again.

Why do I spend such a long time musing on the nature of classic romanticism? Because it is actually a comment on the great romantic adventure that God has called all of us to undertake.

“By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Heb. 11: 8).

We are all called to a life of faith, of stepping out of our safe place, our comfort zone—to go to a place where God promises to bless us. The stepping out is an adventure of massive proportions. But when we obey and go, we find ourselves arriving where we truly belong, our new home with Him.

What about you? Have you stepped out by faith on the road with God? I promise that by obeying Him in faith, you will be actually arriving where you belong—home with Him.