Where is My Epic?
Written February 8, 2011.
Where is my epic?
Representatives from all the peoples of Middle Earth gathered to discuss the course of action to be taken. The result was that nine were commissioned, given a sacred task, the stewardship of a grave burden. For thirteen months, those sent ones toiled, trekked, battled, and rejoiced. They endured exhaustion, despair, treachery, and agony.
And they succeeded. They retired to a life of reminiscences, and opened a new chapter of their own journey, with so much left to be, and to do.
Where is my epic? By whom am I sent on a quest, with what task am I charged? Into what must I pour my life and energy? What pursuit is set before me which will require suffering, striving, persevering?
Perhaps I am not the stuff of heroes. My thoughts turn to the countless thousands mentioned in the Bible, those whose identity exists only in community, nameless faces who crossed wilderness, fought battles, were swallowed by the earth, scattered and regathered. A myriad of souls who existed to provide contrast, enmity, judgment. They served as shield-bearers, cupbearers, stewards, shepherds. Indeed, their lives may have been full, but will never be known.
A fictional professor once birthed this idea in me: “Accomplishment without contribution leads to anonymity.” And so I must ask: what will my contribution be?
My American culture leads me to regard myself as a hero with a destiny, only limited by my own motivation to seek greatness and achievement. My individuality can know no limits of notoriety, glory, and honor—save those which I resign myself to.
But is there indeed an epic for me? Is there a story written where I am the warrior, guardian, savior? Can I insist that I be cast as the main character in a cosmic drama or a mythological tragedy? Perhaps I am but a supporting character, unnamed and uncredited. After hours sitting in make-up, I can point but to a three-second blip when my face appears in the midst of some grand cinematograph. No voice heard. Just a spot in the crowd. A placeholder.
Can I be content? Is this my allotment? Not to be a headliner, the worker of great deeds, but a faceless presence in the midst of a throng, perhaps surrounded by so many computer-generated entities that the reality—if not the necessity—of my role becomes questioned?
My American culture leads me to abhor this notion, spurning me not to succumb to such talk of mediocrity and anonymity. But does my Christianity hearken me elsewhere? I am a son of the King. I am a slave. I am an ambassador. I am a stone. I am an heir. I am a sheep.
Within me, I know that I am valued and treasured by the Creator. That love is real. But I understand also the love of a collector: I enjoy owning books which I have not perused in years. Perhaps He has chosen not to use me in a grand way. Perhaps there is no epic for me.
There are those who seek to make themselves heroes, pursuing deeds and opportunities that will enable themselves to shine. Arthur’s knights. Disney’s Hercules. Don Quixote. But a clay goblet cannot invite itself to a banquet, nor choose at whose dining place it is set. It may long sit in the cupboard, providing a simple drink for a stable boy from time to time.
It is not up to me to write my own epic. The Lord will use me to His chosen degree, which may be to say but little. But I want to be a hero.
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