Sarah Arthur, author of "Walking With Frodo," has followed up her first devotional book with a sequel (or should it be considered a prequel, as is the case with "The Hobbit" compared to the "LOTR" series?) aptly called "Walking With Bilbo." At any rate, we discover 22 key lessons from Bilbo's journey with Gandalf and the dwarves that apply to the Christian journey. The author makes it clear that JRR Tolkien did not intend for his stories to be 100% allegorical, however, there are striking connections that can be made.
Knowledge of the classic work is not entirely necessary, as quotes are brought in and further expounded upon. Rounding out each chapter are discussion questions and a list of related Scripture verses. I found this supplement most enlightening, as the passages from Genesis to Revelation confirm the themes drawn out from the book. One such parallelism is that of being chosen and selected. In the original story, Bilbo did not ask to go on the journey with the dwarvesâ€”Gandalf specifically chose him because he saw qualities deep within Bilbo that would be developed on the journey and effectively change the course of history through the success or failure of the mission. The same was true for Jesus selecting His 12 disciples, and is true today for all Christians. The calling to follow Jesus is thereâ€”do we have the faith to go on the journey?
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of "Walking With Bilbo" through the Tyndale Blog Network, in exchange for my honest review.
I was first introduced to Sarah Arthur, on my fifteenth birthday, when my parents got me her book Dating Mr. Darcy. I poured over that book, so that the covers are now bent. When I found that I could review this book, I jumped on it, and couldn't wait to get it in.
Sarah Arthur writes with humor and insight that keeps me either laughing or nodding my head in agreement. In this book, she is showing how when we accept Christ we embark on a journey of faith, and can choose either to stay comfortably in our 'hobbit holes' or follow Him. She draws many other charming parallels, between "The Hobbit" and our walk with Christ, that helped me to see things in a whole new perspective! The chapters are all short, sweet and to the point, followed by probing questions, and verses to look up. It's great to read in just a few minutes and then meditate on throughout the day.
If you are not familiar with the story lines of "The Hobbit" and the LOTR trilogy, you will not get as much out of this study, and may be lost in some parts.
If you are even a mild LOTR fan, and are ready to embark upon the adventure of faith, this is an excellent book to get you excited and provide encouragement.
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 son 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, â€˜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!
(Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)
A very enjoyable devo. Though not quite as deep and exciting as Walking With Frodo, it is a little slower and seems to have more time for thought. Very much like the difference between LOTR and the Hobbit.