“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien “The Lord of the Rings”
A prophecy about the fate of not only a man, but the whole of Middle Earth. This poem sparks passion in the hearts of its readers, though it is merely part of a fantasy novel. Why? Why should it touch such a deep cord within us? What about it rings so true to our hopes and fears to inspire us to passion? I think because it is about more than a fantastical world’s fate but about our own and deep down we know it to be true.
It is not hard for us to see that “all that is gold does not glitter.” Our culture is filled with shiny new things that distract us from what is real and good, with lies masquerading as glittering truths, with smiles hiding malice. On the other side of that, we walk right past people, places, decisions which are good and true because they do not glitter or shine. We are distracted, mislead and deceived.
Our culture views those who seek truth as the lost, but in truth we know them to be the found. These wanderers find truth, gain wisdom and grow deep roots. They are not as easily deceived or distracted. And while the world shouts at us to listen to lies and distraction, to give into the shallow and finite pleasures of sin, there is a longing in everyone for something more. Without that “something,” the world becomes ash and shadow cloaked in glittering gold.
All this provides a truth, but does it provide hope. How do we escape the ash and the shadow? Is our world doomed to this despair? Of course not. There is hope. Christ is the flame that rises from the ashes, light that casts out the shadow. Christ who was broken on the cross for our sin was then renewed in the resurrection. He conquered death, paid the price for our sin and is now and forever King of kings. Truth is this alone, and this truth alone is our hope. Through Christ’s death and resurrection our relationship with God, once shattered by our sin, is also renewed.