Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost


“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

I draw great comfort and inspiration from this quote from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. I was reminded of it today as I began to reread the story of Abraham from Genesis. (I’m rereading the Bible in a year, chronologically this time.)

God sent Abraham on a meandering journey. He was called to wander. He wasn’t young when he started out. He was advanced in years when he began his journey and he was ninety-nine before the child promised to him was born.

Wandering, growing old, wondering when God would fulfill the promises He made to him when they were alone. There must have been some long, lonely nights for Abraham sitting by a fire under a great sky full of stars asking for faith to hold on.

Tolkien lost both of his parents before he was in his teens. He lived and wrote through two World Wars, watching men he knew and loved die young. He endured Hitler’s Europe. I imagine that Tolkien, too, was a man who spent some time staring up at the stars asking for greater faith.

Yet, when we read the telling of their lives now, they appear to be almost seamless tapestries woven by a master weaver at a great loom. We can see the thread of God’s plan for them from birth to death. We see God’s guiding hand, the trail of divine ink penning their days. We know by sight what they had to trust by faith.

This helps me on those nights when I stoke my own campfire under my own patch of sky, staring wordlessly up at God who has already heard all my questions and knows how much more faith I need than I have.

It’s hard to trust Him as He tells the tale that is my life. It’s easy to begin to judge it too soon, to hold it up to the standards of the culture and times in which I live rather than against the eternal truths of Scripture. It’s hard.

But, He knows what I’m made of. He knows that I am dust and so I know He’s patient with my fireside ranting or the times when I fall into brooding silence.

He’s seen it all before at countless campfires through other’s long, dark nights. Maybe He’s been to one at your place.

I’m not lost. My soul is deeply rooted in the same soil that anchored Abraham.

In the desert, sources of sustenance are not apparent to all and they don’t lie near the surface. There’s no easy access to nourishment in the land of my fathers. It is a place where God provides and sometime that provision seems to rise out of dry sand like a sudden oasis.

As the New Year begins, I am, once again, attempting to memorize scripture (at this, I’m a miserable failure.) This week’s verse is from Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”

Abraham and Tolkien both lived in times when cares were certainly overwhelming, at times on a daily basis. But they both knew how to find water, living water, in the desert, and so their lives testified to God’s ability to sustain those who trust in Him.

I pray that mine will one day tell the same story – and yours, too, loved ones.

Do you wander? You are not lost if you’re faith is rooted in Jesus Christ.

The desert will destroy those who don’t know where to search for food and water but for those who walk with a knowing guide, it is a place of wonder and miracles.

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2 Comments

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  1. jared nole says:

    A man said to me tonight, ” I am like Abraham”. I knew what he meant, but sometimes wonder why people conclude someone is wandering if they did not get the directions from God them self.

  2. jared nole says:

    A man said to me tonight, ” I am like Abraham”. I knew what he meant, but sometimes wonder why people conclude someone is wandering if they did not get the directions from God them self.