Under A Swift Sunrise

The title of this blog comes from a line in The Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Toward the end of the story, Frodo finds himself at the Grey Havens, ready to sail off to the undying lands. After saying goodbye to his friends, we find these words,

And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, 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.

In the movie, Peter Jackson placed these words in the mouth of Gandalf, in an exchange with Pippin, but it was just as powerful. Here’s the scene…

We are indeed on a journey as some of my favorite books remind me, and we will all encounter death. It is part of the path we all must take. I don’t know about you, but I long for what’s beyond it. As the following post emphasizes, I long for my true home, which is to say, I long for God. I love Gandalf’s faraway look as he reflects on the place he has been. And when Pippin tells him it doesn’t sound all that bad, Gandalf knowingly replies, “no, no it isn’t.” Was this the response of Lazarus when his life was being threatened again? He had been there and done that. What could possibly scare him? Gandalf’s smile, faraway stare, and deep sigh assures Pippin that death does not have the last say. There’s so much more awaiting them. And us.

C.S. Lewis understood this. He wrote often about longing or desire. I hope to share some of my favorite quotations by him in posts to come. Peter Kreeft even goes so far as to call “death,” the one we often think of as our enemy, as a lover. When we are in Christ, to quote the Apostle Paul, to live is Christ and to die is gain. It’s a win-win situation.

Now, to be sure, I’m not trying to hurry to the day I stand before the Lord, but as Richard Baxter assures us, there is for those who know Christ, an indescribable rest. Can you imagine anything better? To rest in the very presence of God himself?

I will enjoy my life God has given me in the here and now. I will seek his glory each and every day. But one day, when the Lord calls me home, I will look for that far green country under a swift sunrise.

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