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I just finished reading a really wonderful and unique devotional called Walking With Bilbo: A Devotional Adventure Through The Hobbit by Sarah Arthur. I’ll share more about the book in a moment, but can I tell you first how excited I am that The Hobbit movie is coming out in 9 days!! When the Lord of the Rings movies hit the theaters years ago, I decided to read the books (for the first time) before each movie came out. They are the only movies I can ever say that are as good as the books! So, I have no fear that The Hobbit will be equally wonderful. And what better way to prepare for the movie than to read about how Bilbo’s journey reflects our journey as Christians here on earth, as you’ll see in Walking with Bilbo.
My first experience with the Lord of the Rings was right after my first baby was born. I was visiting my mom, and my sister came to visit as well. We were sitting by the pool and as my sister finished her book, she said, “I’m so sad this is over.” She had just finished Return of the King. I’ve always thought about that statement and knew I needed to read the books someday. When I went to the library to check out the first book, the librarian told me that I should read The Hobbit first as it is a precursor to the events in The Lord of the Rings. So, I did. And if you haven’t read it, you need to!
Tolkein’s stories are so powerful. It’s no wonder that Sarah Arthur was able to write an entire book about Bilbo and how his adventure relates to our Christian walk. (She also wrote a devotional called Walking With Frodo that I’ll have to read!) I could tell that her focus audience is “youth”– junior high, high school, and college, as she often uses examples that would be a part of their lives (taking a test, having a roommate, etc.) I’m going to give the book to my 12-year-old to read next, but I got a lot out of it as a 40-year-old! It was fun to read about some things in the stories of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and about Tolkein himself that I never knew before.
Here is how Walking With Bilbo is arranged: There are 22 chapters; it would be good to read one chapter a day. Each begins with a quote from The Hobbit. Then the chapter discusses that scene from the book and moves into how we can learn from it in our Christian walk as Jesus’ disciples. Sometimes she’ll compare some of the characters of The Hobbit to people in the Bible. The chapter ends with a Scripture verse, questions to answer called “Going Further,” and several Scripture passages to look up in the Bible. One thing that’s neat about the way she arranged the devotional is that it goes in order of the story of The Hobbit, so if you want to read both books at the same time, it works out great. The book also ends with a Quick Reference Guide Glossary of Terms to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, as well as footnotes.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Walking With Bilbo.
“So if you’re feeling a little unqualified lately, if you’re slightly queasy about the details of God’s classified ad, take heart. Like Bilbo, you’ve been called for a reason. The job of following Jesus isn’t for the faint of heart; but God never would call you if he didn’t plan to strengthen your heart along the way.”
“You can’t play a meaningful role in the great story by playing it safe. Once you hit the road, there’s no going back to life as it was before. When Jesus asks the disciples if they will leave him too, Peter says, ‘Lord to who would we go?'”
“But God never said anything about discipleship being comfortable. He’s more interested in coaxing the Took side of us to the fore, the side that’s willing to endure a little hardship for the sake of the final destination.”
“It’s not that he [Bilbo] has become something other than his true character; it’s that he has become the hobbit he was always meant to be. . . .When we surrender our very selves to Christ and embark on the adventure of faith, we become more the unique person we were always created to be, not less.”
I have a feeling that Sarah Arthur is as excited as I am of the movie coming out next week, perhaps more so because she has immersed herself in Tolkein’s books at a far deeper level than I have. If you are a Middle-Earth lover, and a believer in Jesus Christ (as Tolkein was) then Walking With Bilbo is a book you will get a lot out of!
Enter to win 1 of 3 FREE signed editions of Walking with Bilbo when you enter your email address to subscribe to Sarah’s blog (see right-hand column on her blog) between now and Dec. 15, 2012. Winners will be notified by email on Dec. 17. Also check out Sarah’s Facebook page, Walking With Bilbo Facebook page, and on Twitter.
(Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Post contains affiliate links.)