“It’s a dangerous business,” Frodo shares with his fellow Hobbits as they are about to leave the Shire in Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings. Filled with excitement and trepidation at leaving home for the first time, Frodo shares the wise and whimsical council of his beloved Uncle Bilbo:
He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ he used to say. ‘You step onto the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.
It’s a dangerous buisness, opening your mouth, as well. The conversation can bring you anywhere. James says, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness” (James 3:9). Our words will often flow into curses of our neighbors and God. They can set the course of our life on fire. Yet, God didn’t create words and speech for that.
Every word and conversation is really meant to flow through the tributaries of casual conversation to the deep and powerful rushing waters of theology. That great river of the Gospel flows into a river of life, it’s the road to God. Every conversations was meant to point there, every road meant to lead to Him. Why? Because we were meant to “live, move and have our being” in Him (Acts 17:28). We were created to find all our joy, purpose and meaning in our God and Father. In the Fall we ran away from God, yet in the Gospel, God Redeemed us and calls us to to Jesus, the way and road home (John 14:6). He desires for us to be prepared to share the faith, to season and frame all our conversations with God’s Story and Love, and to trust the Spirit to guide in showing the way to others.
Since we have been redeemed, since we’re on our way home, we have something to share, something to talk about. We’ll run into many people on our journey home. We’ll have the opportunity to invite them along, to tell them where we’re going. Just as “it’s a dangerous business” in going out your door in the uncertainty of where the day will take you, there’s always uncertainty, every time a conversation starts. We don’t know what paths words will lead us down, but what we do know is that God desires to use our words and our path to lead people home. God’s called every person we meet to intersect with our path so that somehow, the direction and ultimately the destination of their life might change. God’s Spirit will present opportunities to speak and give us words to say to lead others home.
Picture found here.