As Frodo and Sam clung to the burning flanks of Mount Doom in Return of the King, the One Ring destroyed and their quest complete, Sam thought of Rosie Cotton, a girl back home in the Shire. If there were anyone who caught his eye, Sam lamented as the lava crawled near, “it would’ve been ‘er.”
Yet even as he mourned, there’s no doubt that the two hobbits’ hearts were full and glad. All of Middle Earth was saved! The darkness had been vanquished, the armies of the West delivered, and a new age of peace was dawning thanks to their bravery and sacrifice – even of their lives, they suspected, as the volcano melted down around them amidst the Ring’s death throes.
Of course, we know that Sam got his girl, because a bunch of eagles appeared out of nowhere and pulled the pair off the mountainside before they crisped. (Seriously, where were those eagles and their convenient carrying ability five volumes ago when Frodo first faced thousands of miles to Mordor? Talk about your continent-sized plot holes…)
But I digress.
My point is, it would have been silly to think that Sam underewent those unbelievable travails just for Rosie. He didn’t reach Mount Doom to find Rosie chained there, waiting for rescue. Had Rosie never existed, Sam would have gone. Much, much more was at stake – both outside the two hobbits and within.
There are some Christian singles (not all) who don’t really have much of a mountaintop in mind except getting married. All other goals pale in comparison. C’mon – when we hear the song “Beautiful Things” and sing the lyric, “I wonder if I’ll ever find my way”, you know we’re not thinking of a vocation. It’s our code for WHEN AM I GETTING HITCHED ALREADY, amirite? I don’t say this to mock or judge. I used to be like this myself. I envisioned my wedding day as the greatest day of my life, the most important thing a person could do, and, honestly, yes, the answer to most of my problems.
There is some truth here. It will be one of our best days; it is important; it will fix some problems. And as we stand at the altar, there will be a giddy, bewildered triumph in our hearts. As if we have finally achieved our goal after a long, weary quest, and stand upon the Fields of Pelennor enjoying the rewards of our wait and toil.
But though we will scarce be able to take our eyes off our beloveds that day, I now believe they will be…secondary.
I sure hope so.
Rosie Cotton wasn’t as important as what Frodo and Sam lost – a piercing, agonizing burden with the power to haunt both of them, even though it was carried by only one. And she was secondary to what they gained – freedom and peace for all the nations of Middle Earth. Without those things, there would have been little for Sam to enjoy in Rosie. Indeed, they might not even have lived much longer.
And so, as we stand at the altar one day, I believe – I hope – that our hearts will find our beloveds secondary to what we’ve already lost and gained along the way. Secondary to the losing of the despair, wind-chasing, and darkness of life without God as the center, tossed into the fires of hell like a worthless piece of jewelry; secondary to having gained knowledge of the power and love of our God.
I pray that we love God more than our new mates.
Otherwise, not only does God miss his glory, but I don’t see much happiness in marriage. I see fear and worry, a lot of second-guessing and manipulation and self-hatred as we try to make our new spouses everything in a way they can never be. What a horrible fate. Like finally reaching Mordor only to realize the map was wrong and Mount Doom is countless furlongs back to the north in the Misty Mountains or something (fellow LOTR nerds will get it), and now you can’t get there.
Unlike Frodo’s, the rings we exchange that day will have no power. All power is in Christ.
Your wedding day is not the pinnacle of your life or the reason for your existence. Loving God is.
The great upshot of this is – you can reach that mountaintop at any time! You might already even be there. I feel closer all the time. Pray for it. Seek him with all your heart. God watches our climb with fierce pride, helps us up. Where marriage will disappoint us eventually, he never will.
After all, even after their triumph, Frodo and Sam still longed for another land.
If you know someone this post might bless, feel free to share it on social media. Thanks a bunch!