Glory & Splendor

Arwen & Aragorn

This weekend I was thumbing through our bookshelves, and pulled out the copy I have of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” by JRR Tolkien. I hadn’t read it in years, and its been a while since I watched the movie trilogy. So I sat down and skipped around through the book. I remembered why I loved this particular part of the trilogy best, as well as the movie. Such beautiful, powerful images that remind me of the message of the Gospels and Revelation. I particularly read the closing chapter, when Frodo joins Gandalf and the Elves on the journey out of the Grey Havens, leaving the shores of Middle Earth at last, to sail to the Undying Lands. Its a sad chapter of goodbyes, but then Tolkien gives a description of the first glimpses of their destination:
“Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water… the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.”
I am reminded of the Scripture that promises, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9). We can’t come close to imagining the wonder of the splendor we will behold when the “grey rain-curtain” of this life is pulled back, and we arrive at our true home, the “home we’ve never been to”, the Heaven being prepared for us. Our “Undying Lands”.
I later read one of the sections at the end of the book, in Appendix A, entitled “Here Follows a Part of the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen”. Tolkien adds more detail to this romance that runs throughout all three books, and honestly, a separate movie could have been done on this portion alone! Without recounting every detail of this beautiful section, he recounts the early days of their love, their time apart, their reuniting and marriage, and their many years together. Yet Aragorn, being a mortal man, comes to the end of his days, and prepares to say goodbye to Arwen, eternal elf. As he chooses to lay down his life and breathe his last on his deathbed, even in Arwen’s grief, she witnesses something amazing:
“…as he took her hand and kissed it, he fell into sleep. Then a great beauty was revealed in him, so that all who after came there looked on him in wonder; for they saw that the grace of his youth, and the valour of his manhood, and the wisdom and majesty of his age were blended together…an image of the splendour of the Kings of Men in glory undimmed before the breaking of the world.”
This description struck me like a thunderclap, as I realized what Tolkien seemed to be painting a picture of. This is the splendor that awaits each of us who love and follow Christ, at the end of our days on this earth. Just like a great glory awaits us on the other shore, a great glory will be revealed IN us as well- “I consider that our present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18). I so often don’t feel like there is much glory in me to be revealed one day. I’m so often hobbled by sins, weaknesses, shortcomings, insecurities. Yet God says, “Not only am I preparing an amazing place for you, I’m preparing an amazing new you, your true identity.” I look forward to that day, before the new heavens and new earth, made new with all the saints of the ages, forever.
That puts a spring in my step, as I walk this stuff of earth.
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him just as He is.” 1 John 3:2

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