Friday, July 18, 2014

Shaking Hands with Skeletons (and other things I do not try)

Remember that scene in Fellowship of the Ring where Pippin knocks the skeleton into the mine shaft? No? Well, I remember it. Of course, I remember all LOTR scenes and could probably reenact any of them, given enough time to get a costume together. But let me recap.

Pippin—the goofball of the fellowship—just has to touch this skeleton's hand. I am not sure why he has to. Touching a skeleton would not be on any of my “Do This Before You Die” lists. But, he is Pippin. He is the Curious George of Middle-earth.

He accidentally knocks it into the shaft, setting off a foreboding echo all through the caves. You guessed it—the bad guys hear the noise and come running. Cue angry eyes and not so fellowship-y words toward Pippin.

But wait. Let's take a look at the chain of events afterward.

>Pippin knocked a skeleton into a well.

>This act forced Gandalf to fight one of the aforementioned bad guys, a balrog.

>Thus, Gandalf gets to die and return as Gandalf the White, more powerful and, well, clean looking.

>This allows him to defeat Saruman in Rohan, free Theoden, save the kingdom in war, thus saving Eowyn from death. (Whew!)

Since Eowyn is conveniently alive, this allows her to kill the Witchking and thus save . . . all of Middle-earth. True story.

Without Pippin's dumb act, Frodo would have never made it to the Mountain because everyone else would have died first. And the books would have been a lot shorter. And heaven knows what Peter Jackson would have used to fill out the other movies. (Wait. We're not sure what he's using now. But that's another story . . . )

Some days, I'm a lot like Pippin. Saving the world by screwing up.

*I hurt a friend and offer that look of horrified repentance you often see on Pippin's face. Forgiveness becomes sweeter than what was there before.

*I advertise my failures as a parent in a national magazine. Women relate and feel hope.

*I (unintentionally) torch a dessert meant for company. We laugh over it, and the frailty that is our mask of perfection slips long enough to create real relationships.

*I carelessly leave credit cards around when I know I shouldn't, and suddenly the kid who steals them is living in my house and talking to me about Jesus.

My messes somehow leave more room for God to work, not less. I haven't figured out the math on that. I think it's in 1 Corinthians 1 somewhere. How God can take less and make more when the best mathematician at MIT can't.

I want to be more like Pippin. I calculate too much at times, and I fear failure to a paralyzing extent too often. I prefer being right. I don't play nicely with admitting wrong. Sometimes, I ought to just touch the skeleton's hand to see what will happen.

Leave a place for others to look in the holes and cracks and be comforted. Leave space for an unexpected turn of events that may come from my mistake. Leave room for God to take my weakness and make others stronger.

I knew there was a reason I liked Pippin. Besides the accent.

To read more about Pippin and how much we can relate, check out Hobbits,You, and the Spiritual World of Middle-earth A devotional/Bible study for teens on Amazon.


  1. Great words of wisdom Jill. I'm constantly amazed that God is able to use this Pippin to do what He has planned. I never would have guessed how He had my life planned or how He would use my mistakes to accomplish His good work.

  2. I am forever in need of some hope that my latest blunder is not beyond God's redemptive power. This post is for me. Thank you.