A very young Jon Foreman once sang “I don’t wanna read the book, I’ll watch the movie” in the surf-rock ballad Chem 6A. I resonated with that statement. Why read, when every good book will someday become a movie, right? If it doesn’t become a movie, then it probably wasn’t a very good book… Or so I thought.
I despised reading books in school. I cared very little about about the character Hester Prynne. I didn’t understand why Scout and Jem were afraid of “Boo” Radley. I was really confused about the relationships taking place as Nick Carraway shared the story of the mysterious Jay Gatsby. I did feel a mix of emotions while reading the story of Lenny Small. These are a few of the tales covered during my sophomore year at Blaine High School. We would always read a book as a class, and then watch the movie at the end of the week. So, why read it? I would even make up fake book reports simply from reading the back of the book and skimming a few chapters. Surprisingly, I got really good grades on these reports too. I always enjoyed english class. I just didn’t want to read all of this nonsense the teacher was giving us. I didn’t see how these stories would ever help me in my future.
I still don’t know how I am supposed to apply these books or how they set me up for a successful future, but I can tell you that in recent years, I have developed a real love for reading. I don’t read very often, in fact, I mostly read blogs… But I listen to a lot of books. As I drive all over, I love to take in a great piece of work. Books that will challenge the way I think, the way I live, or books that simply give me a great story about places far far away.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “it’s not the destination that matters, but the journey”. I think Tolkien knew this. Every great author knows this.
The Lord Of The Rings has very little to do with the destination, and everything to do with the journey. I love when Sam says to Frodo…
Sam: This is it…
Frodo: This is what?
Sam: If I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been
Frodo: You know what Bilbo used to say? ‘It’s dangerous business Frodo, going out your front door’
I keep thinking of this moment. These words. Being in Uganda is definitely the farthest away from home I’ve ever been. I quietly think to myself “one more step, and I’m even further away from home”.
If a character stays put, the character never changes. A character that doesn’t change creates a story that is boring. We, you and I, need to get out and see the world. Not just for adventures sake, but we should see what God is doing and to allow Him to change us in the process.
The second you turn on the news, you will hear 50 things wrong with the world. While traveling, I could create an even bigger list of places where Gods grace is being poured out through obedient servants of Jesus.
Why do so many of us stay put though? As Bilbo said to Frodo “it’s dangerous business going out your front door” Bilbo is right, it is far safer to stay home, and believe you have control over your surroundings than it is to travel. When you travel, you must put your trust in Jesus. All of it. When you allow Him to take you on a grand adventure, he will open your eyes to the world.
Another one of my favorite lines in all of literature is in The Hobbit. When Biblo says to Gandalf “We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”
It’s true, while on an adventure with Jesus, you will be late for dinner. Toss comfort out the window. Rid yourself of the idea that you have any control whatsoever. Then, embrace the adventure whole heartledly. Knowing that Jesus is walking with you, showing you what He desperately wants to show you.
Every good story is about a character who is changing through his or her current journey. I’m blessed when I travel, because I am changed with each place I go. I am changed by the people I meet. I am changed by the cultures I experience. I am changed by Jesus.
Looking back at those stories that made little sense to me while in school, I think I get it now. I think I have a better grasp of why we should enjoy books. We were born into a story. You and I. We have the ability to make it a great story, one that will be shared forever, or we can make it a boring one. If you don’t enjoy a good story, you may never begin living one.
Thank you for reading my ramblings. I’m amazed at what I’m seeing here in Uganda. I’m encouraged by how this journey is changing me and refining me. I’m so very blessed to be here.
Note: This post is dedicated especially to my amazing wife. Thank you for encouraging me to continually live a better story. To embrace adventure. To experience new things. Thank you for the sacrifices you have made to make this trip possible. I can’t thank God enough for bringing you into my life. You are truly the best! I love you.