Reading The Hobbit was a seminal moment in my life.
Sometime in middle school, I ran across an illustrated edition of Tolkien’s
work and was captured immediately by the world the author created. Middle Earth
was filled with awe-inspiring, fantastical things, glorious landscapes,
terrifying images. Until that moment, I wouldn’t necessarily have said that I
possessed an imagination, but once immersed in Tolkien’s story, my mind took
flight. Suddenly, all the words on the page became vivid images in my head; I
was easily transported to a place that only existed in the imagination. I had
no trouble picturing the individuals, places, and events described. Looking in
on Tolkien’s world was easy for me.
But, it was not only the imaginary world of The Hobbit
that captured me—it was the entire design of the plot. I do not mean the
intricacies of the story of a band of dwarfs taking on a solitary hobbit in
order to rob a dragon of his hoard. No, that was engaging enough, but what
really captured my imagination was the entire notion of “a quest.” Here in The
Hobbit, I was first confronted with the quest motif, the idea of a long and
arduous search, undertaken by a misfit band of characters, for some lofty
purpose. I like how Webster defines it: “a chivalrous enterprise usually
involving an adventurous journey toward a noble end.” Ever since The Hobbit,
I have had a soft spot for stories that take on “the quest motif.” Perhaps it
is the romance or the comradery or the idealism, but I love it!
I wonder why we do not think more in terms of “a quest”
when speaking of our faith. You do not have to be a romantic to see the “chivalrous”
side of pursuing Christ or the adventurous journey of walking by faith or the
noble goal of seeing God. But for some reason, we do not naturally seem to
think of the Christian life as a quest.
So, perhaps I’m reading a bit much into it, but it sure
seems at the close of his letter that Apostle Paul is calling Timothy to join
in a quest of enormous, eternal proportions. Like Gandalf recruiting Bilbo,
Paul nudges Timothy—pointing him toward a journey that he cannot avoid. Flee
this! Pursue that! Fight here! Avoid those! And, can you just imagine the reward?
Stunning beyond belief! Paul’s commands to Timothy ring of the quest motif—a
task, a journey, a purpose, a goal, with a band of believers accompanying you
at every step!
Of course, like any quest, opposition arises; a struggle is
the expectation; disappointment and discouragement haunt us at every stage.
Satan attacks, sin corrupts, sorrow dominates, and frustration is ever present.
Yet through it all the faithful strive on…because the goal of this quest could
not be more glorious—God Himself!
Like Paul, like Gandalf, let me be the one to urge you
on—take this quest! Join me in the journey! For the blessing of God’s Presence
is a great and worthy goal.
In preparation for worship this week, read 1 Timothy
1. As you read through the text, make a list of all the
“quest”-ing imagery you find.
2. Remind yourself what “these things” in verse 11 refers
to. If Timothy is to “flee” some things, how are they the opposite of what he
is to “pursue” ?
3. How does “fight the good fight of faith” (vs. 12) well
summarize this text?
4. In verse 13, what does the implication of charging
Timothy before God mean?
5. Verse 15-16 describe our Lord and Savior. Make a list of
all the qualities mentioned here. Why are they a good “goal” for a quest?
6. The paragraph on the rich can be understood as speaking
to more than just the uber-wealthy. What biblical principles for our life’s
journey are evident here?
7. Paul’s final (or near-final) command to Timothy is
“guard the good deposit!” How is this such a great summation of this biblical