Friday, July 3, 2015

Struck by Lightning, Part One

Welcome to Middle-Earth for the Summer!

As a summer break for me and, I hope, a fun treat for you, I'm going to spend some time here excerpting from my last book, Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World of Middle-earth. Chapter One starts with -- well --who would you expect it to start with? The title Hobbit himself, Bilbo Baggins.

Struck by Lightning!
(Bilbo Baggins) part 1

Vital Stats
Favorite Activity: Food. Anything remotely related to it. 
Least Favorite Activity: White water rafting.
Most Prized Possession: His vest buttons. 
Always on the Lookout For: Those Sackville-Bagginses. And a good piece of cake.

Where to start with Bilbo? If a person even tried to make up a less likely hero, I’m not sure he could. 
Bilbo is short, scared, out of shape, and thinking a little more about his dinner than helping out a brother. Who’s betting on him to slay the dragon and save the world? Definitely not the thirteen slightly taller people stuck with him for what they guess will be a long trip with the little whiner. Who even believes in him? He certainly doesn’t.

“Poor Bilbo couldn’t bear it any longer. At may never return he began to feel a shriek coming up inside, and very soon it burst out like the whistle of an engine coming out of a tunnel. The poor little hobbit could be seen kneeling on the hearthrug, shaking like a jelly that was melting. Then he fell flat on the floor and kept calling out, ‘Struck by lightning, struck by lightning!’ over and over again; and that was all they could get out of him for a long time.” (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit)

Yep, that’s the first impression we get of the daring adventurer. He’s afraid of the dark corners of his own house; forget facing trolls, goblins, and dragons. And not one of the thirteen dwarves thinks he’s going to survive, much less be of any use.

But in the end, he does a lot more than survive. He saves all their butts--more than once. Through the whole book, he’s knifing giant spiders, going for a wild ride on a wet barrel, and coming up with a plan to save everyone, even if he has to put his own life out there. He proves he’s not that shaking bowl of jelly anymore. He proves he’s what Gandalf said he’d be all along—a hero.

What does this highly unlikely hero have to show by the end of the story? He has amazing courage, uncommon common sense, unbelievable compassion, and brilliant negotiating skills. Not bad for a guy who started out complaining that adventures would make him late for dinner and that missing a meal was the worst fate he could imagine.

This is not the Bilbo who began his journey whimpering about pocket handkerchiefs. Or is it? Gandalf insists from the first night: “I chose Mr. Baggins and that ought to be enough. There is a lot more in him than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea. You may, possibly, all live to thank me yet.”

Gandalf seemed to think Bilbo could do it from the start. What did he see inside the hobbit that no one else, not even Bilbo himself, saw there? Did Gandalf know he would learn to leave those handkerchiefs behind and embrace his “herohood” in ways no one ever expected?


Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World is a devotional using twenty J.R.R. Tolkien characters. It looks at what makes those characters who they are, where Scripture talks about the same kinds of people, and what it all means to a young person today. Interactive application and fun side additions included!  

 If you would like to find the book for yourself or a teen/young adult you love, you can purchase it here:

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