In order to recover Who We Are, we too must wonder what sort of tale we’ve fallen into. We need to see our days in this world as part of, as an important contribution to, the chapters to come. Tolkien’s Middle-earth represents the Larger Story our own story is in—the context of our days, the Where We Are. Only when we grasp this can we align with the Author and the story he is writing. Then, and only then, can we join him in the great redemption and restoration of all things. Then, and only then, can we be kings who provide and who protect against evil. Kings who are well-equipped, well-informed, and well-trained—or, as my friend Bart Hansen of Wild at Heart put it, “men who are dangerous for good.”
The context of our story is a tale first of woe, of terrible fallenness, and then of a comeback, of enormous restoration. We know how it began in Genesis and where it ends in Revelation, when this present story will give way to the next. Until then, we live in the middle—exposed, outside the garden. And the serpent, who was also in the garden, now has an army outside it where we are. Here in Middle-earth we encounter his forces every moment of every day. Whether we perceive it or not, in this fallen place, the kingdom of darkness is at work all around us.
Have you ever wondered why there is always a war somewhere across the globe? Why there is continued oppression, strife, bondage, painful injustices, hatred between image bearers, disregard for the planet, indifference among people toward one another, discord in marriages and the breakdown of families? It’s because there is a war . . . and we are in it.
We live in the middle, the now-but-not-yet of redemption that lies between the promise and its fulfillment.