What if you could go to Rivendell every week?
Fans of the Lord of the Rings will recognize Rivendell as the House of Elrond, an oasis of peace and rest in the turmoil of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. It welcomed Bilbo Baggins, and later his nephew Frodo, providing refreshment and strength for the rest of their adventures. It was a place of music and feasting, contemplation and joy. It was a hard place to find, and once found, it was a hard place to leave.
Tolkien describes the beneficial impact of Rivendell on Frodo and his companions: “The future, good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have control over the present. Health and hope grew strong in them, and they were content with each day as it came, taking pleasure in every meal and in every word and song” (Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring).
Author Mark Buchanan rightly points out the similarities between Rivendell and the topic of his excellent book on rest: “The future, good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have control over the present. That’s Sabbath!” (The Rest of God, p. 125, italics original).
Are you tired of Today being determined by Tomorrow? Are you weary of laboring under the tyranny of what is just over the horizon: the project, the exam, the bills, the doctor’s appointment, the (fill in the blank with your own tyrant)? Do you feel like a slave to the duties and potential of your future?
Jesus calls us to live differently. When His disciples returned from a successful short-term mission trip in Mark 6, all abuzz about the amazing results, Jesus COULD have sent them back out to close the deal. He COULD have initiated the training seminar that would take their ministry to the next level. He COULD have allowed the potential of tomorrow to drive the priorities of today.
But He didn’t. Instead, He invited them to Rivendell: “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).
Can you picture Jesus inviting you to rest? If you can’t, then your picture of Him is not complete. There is something unsettling, even dangerous, about being driven by an incomplete picture of Christ. It borders on idolatry, and I’m convinced that it leads to many a spiritual shipwreck.
“Come to Me,” says the One whose yoke is easy, “and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He means it. He means for us to find “rest for our souls” in Him (11:29).
When is the last time you did that? Is it time to do it now?
I have found Sabbath-keeping to be a good way to take Him up on His offer (and Buchanan’s book to be a great place to start). The diligent pursuit of regular, contemplative, Christ-centered rest has changed my life for the better. It’s not the only way, and if you have another one, great! Find a way to rest in Him, to refresh yourself, to step off the hamster wheel in order to receive what He is offering, and what we so desperately need.
Create a space in time in which your focus on God is such that the future, though not forgotten, ceases to have control over the present.
We are invited to Rivendell, regularly. Why would we NOT want to go?
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