For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.
As anyone who is familiar with me knows, I can be a bit of a science fiction fan. I say “a bit” because science fiction is only a small part of what I like to read and it seems to be a genre with which more folks are acquainted. But I truly love fantasy adventure, young adult fiction with supernatural leanings, specifically. It goes back to my early childhood when I used to pick up my brothers’ comic books and teach myself to read. (To this day, there are still words I mispronounce because I learned by sounding them out as best I could!) The Archie digests, Richie Rich and Casper were faves, but the superheroes! They were the best – action, adventure, super powers, villains – BAM! POW! Cartoons and comics were wonderful, colorful and self-explanatory because of the pics. They were also a great way to improve reading comprehension and vocabulary. They built my imagination and increased my sense of wonder. Because these traits outlasted my childhood, I believe they contribute to my ability to look to God for great things even today.
I also credit my growth early on as a reader (and subsequently, writer) to The Book of Beautiful Bible Stories. I read my grandmother’s illustrated copy until it fell apart. (I actually found a copy at a library book sale when my children were young. I can tell you, I am quite happy to have it in my possession!) That was pretty much it for books, as I recall, until I was sent to a new school in the fourth grade – Walt Disney Magnet School. It was as magical as it sounds and a great opportunity for my family. I enjoyed the experience immensely and still carry fond memories of my time there.
After being there a short while, I noticed certain children walking around with a book under their arm. Not a textbook, mind you, but what I know now as a paperback novel. I was curious. Why did they carry this book? Was it assigned? It wasn’t a comic or picture book and the cover was dark and depressing instead of bright and attractive. It didn’t look like your typical children’s book. Hmmm. It piqued my interest and one day, while visiting the library, I spied the tome and was able to sate my curiosity. Little did I know, The Hobbit would take me on a lifelong journey to a world where the pictures would no longer be physically necessary. Instead, I would be required to create them with my imagination. But it would not be a chore as the author went to great pains to supply plenty of clues to aid the process so that my mental picture would be complete.
Other books of the same genre soon followed, most notably, The Lord of The Rings. Movie adaptations of LOTR failed to impress, although I so much wanted to be. Then came Peter Jackson’s version of the J.R.R. Tolkien classic. At last – a movie that did justice to the book! (It’s a three part book, people – not a trilogy!) So many times I had been disappointed with Hollywood’s take on my favorite stories. This was one of the few occasions they didn’t let me down. Normally, I found The Two Towers (Part II) laborious. Not so. The battle scene was thrilling. (Orlando Bloom in tights, shooting arrows and performing an insane flip to mount his horse – need I say more?) I was even pleased with the liberties taken with the story line. The added embellishment to the secret love of Aragorn and Lady Arwen kept me enthralled. The heroes of one of my best loved tales leapt off the page and sprang to life.
And then Arwen said something that I don’t recall from the books. But I have not been able to forget it ever since. “I choose a mortal life.” It may have come from one of other, lesser known books the author created in that same world, providing a back story for the works that would become famous. It has been said of Tolkien that he was Christian and that these stories were Christian in nature. Keeping that in mind, the parallel that I drew from his character to Christ did not seem so strange.
See, Arwen was one of the Eldar. Actually, daughter of a great king among the elves, Elrond. As such, she had the capacity to live a very long life. Potentially forever, if not killed. The elves were portrayed as angelic, though flawed. They could alternate between being beautifully ethereal and at times, terrible to behold. By contrast, hobbits had a life expectancy somewhere around the life span of man before the flood. Bilbo and Frodo, for example, were in their third century of life when their adventures began – equivalent to our early thirties. Aragorn aka Strider represented man after the flood. He would age at what could be considered, for us, a normal pace. Which left Arwen with a dilemma. I’m sure you could imagine it. How could she and her love be expected to overcome their age difference? He would expire long before she would even think of dying. But because she loved him, she would not want to outlive him. So, she made a choice. He could not become Eldar. The only option was for her to give up her longevity and join him. Only great love could cause one to make such a sacrifice.
Essentially, this is what Jesus, the son of God did when he put aside his divinity to become one of us. Stepping out of eternity, he entered our time stream to become like his creation, to experience life as we do. Jesus hungered and was thirsty, he got tired and was sleepy; he dealt with the same limitations of a mortal body that we do. He knew what it was to love and be injured by love, to be betrayed and deserted by his friends. In short, he became one of us. He loved us enough to not leave us here by ourselves, choosing to die with us, for us, as one of us so that we could live forever with him. He chose a mortal life. Because of his sacrifice, we can now choose immortality. Yep. Just ours for the taking. Jesus gave it all up to give us this opportunity. In effect, He pressed the re-set button. How many of us have thought, if i were in the Garden of Eden, I would’ve done things differently? Or, if only they hadn’t partaken of the forbidden fruit? Well, we now have the same choice set before us as Adam and Eve. Life and death, immortality or mortality. Therefore, let us choose wisely so that on the day of His return, like Arwen, we may be reunited with our King.