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For the last couple of weeks me and a couple of friends have been discovering and rediscovering the joys and wonders that are Peter Jackson’s highly credited films, The Lord of the Rings. But being the extremely intellectual 20-somethings we are we wasted no time in breaking down every aspect of the movie and exposing every plot hole we could find. One little tidbit that we picked up on was the fact that Sam, Frodo’s loyal squire, always carried around his pots and pans. No matter what he was doing, whither it was walking through the forests of the Shire, visiting the majestic halls of Lothlorien, or even on the precipice of Mt. Doom, Sam never left behind his pots and pans. It was very comical for me and my friends to point this out every time Sam would be running away from Orcs or fighting off giant spiders. We always asked ourselves the same question; “Why is Sam still carrying those stupid pots?!” After a few hours of overanalyzing and a bit of prayer I have come up with an answer to our question. And if I do say so myself it is quite inspiring.

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King- Chapter 3:

“There, I’ll be an orc no more,” he cried, “and I’ll bear no weapon fair or foul. Let them take me, if they will!” Sam did likewise, and put aside his orc-gear; and he took out all the things in his pack. Somehow each of them had become dear to him, if only because he had borne them so far with so much toil. Hardest of all it was to part with his cooking-gear. Tears welled in his eyes at the thought of casting it away. “Do you remember that bit of rabbit, Mr. Frodo?” he said. “And our place under the warm bank in Captain Faramir’s country, the day I saw an oliphaunt?” “No, I am afraid not, Sam,” said Frodo. “At least, I know that such things happened, but I cannot see them. No taste of food, no feel of water, no sound of wind, no memory of tree or grass or flower, no image of moon or star are left to me. I am naked in the dark. Sam, and there is no veil between me and the wheel of fire. I begin to see it even with my waking eyes, and all else fades.” Sam went to him and kissed his hand. “Then the sooner we’re rid of it, the sooner to rest,” he said haltingly, finding no better words to say. “Talking won’t mend nothing,” he muttered to himself, as he gathered up all the things that they had chosen to cast away. He was not willing to leave them lying open in the wilderness for any eyes to see. “Stinker picked up that orc-shirt, seemingly, and he isn’t going to add a sword to it. His hands are bad enough when empty. And he isn’t going to mess with my pans!” With that he carried all the gear away to one of the many gaping fissures that scored the land and threw them in. The clatter of his precious pans as they fell down into the dark was like a death-knell to his heart.

After delving into this topic farther then even Legolas’s elf eyes could see I could only come up with one conclusion. Sam kept his pots and pans with him at all times because they were precious to him.  When I say precious, I don’t mean like how the ring of power was precious to Gollum. No, Sam’s pots and pans were precious to him because it reminded him of home. Sam’s pots and pans gave him hope. Hope is a precious thing and at the time that is all that Sam and Frodo had. When Sam threw away his pots and pans he did not just give up his beloved pans, but the very hope of survival: he has accepted that all he and Frodo can realistically hope to achieve is the destruction of the ring of power, and that anything that isn’t going to aid them in this aim is dead weight. As I ponder this fact I can’t help but think about the Bible story of Abraham giving up his son, Isaac.

Genesis 22:1-12

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Like Sam’s pots (probably to a greater extent) Isaac was very precious to Abraham. Isaac was Abraham’s one and only son! His only hope for the future! But when God calls Abraham to give up his only son, his hope, Abraham gives it all up to finish the goal of honoring the Lord. I think this is something that we struggle with in our own daily lives. We get so caught up in what is precious to us that we don’t realize that it is holding us back from our true potential that God has for us. So I ask you, “What are you holding onto that is keeping you from God’s plan? Is it your future, a toxic relationship, or even your every day comforts that you don’t think you can live without?” Sam’s job, his only goal, was to help Frodo destroy the ring of power. To get the job done he had to let go of his most cherished possessions; his pots and pans. Abraham’s only job, his only goal, was to honor God by giving everything up. And to do this job Abraham had to be willing to give up the thing most dear to him; his son. I encourage you to be like Sam and Abraham. As Christians our only job in this life is to bring praise to our savior Jesus Christ. To do this job we may at times be asked to give up the things most dear to us. But as J.R.R Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings, is quoted in writing “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”