The World Without Worry

Posted: 21 October, 2017 in Uncategorized

Remember when you were a little kid, and you looked ahead to some career, or activity that you would only be able to do as an adult.

Think of driving, for example. How did you feel as you anticipated driving your own car one day? Don’t you remember feeling like to be able to drive would just be the best thing in the world? The freedom, the speed, the autonomy, the nice car, the independence! What’s not to love??

Then we grow up and few of us experience life the way we pictured it as a child. Not only does the novelty wear off, but our frontal cortex takes over and we begin to dwell on the RESPONSIBILITY of being an adult.
As a driver, you have to think about the wear and tear on your car; you have to think about the price of petrol, and the fact that your little joy ride costs something. You have to think about the risk of an accident, the time wasted in traffic, and a million other negatives. The result is – all the joy the child in you expected simply evaporates!

I have been thinking a lot about perspective, anxiety and fear-of-man, recently, and I am beginning to think that the perspective of the child is the better one.
Yes, the kid-version-of-you didn’t realise the responsibility that come with a career, or a car, or kids, but he did know where to focus.

I think that it is possible to be both responsible AND childlike in our experience of life. Stop thinking that life has to be perfect to be enjoyable. Realise the risks, but don’t dwell on them. Acknowledge the fact that life isn’t a bed of roses, but choose not to fixate on the thorns. Remember how young-you looked at life, and let that little guy/girl out to enjoy it!

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I have heard and read so much on the subject of Christian dating. Some of it is helpful, but most of it is decidedly not. A lot of the current advice boils down to this:
“How can a young man or woman engage in a God-honouring romantic relationship?” The answer: “By not doing it.” This is often accompanied by the verse from Song of Solomon about “do not stir up or awaken love until it pleases”
Having now successfully dated a damsel, and married her, I would like to write briefly about my experience and share what worked, and what didn’t, what I am proud of and what I regret.
The Purpose-Driven Date
Let’s get this out of the way from the start. Christians do not date as a form of social recreation without any purpose other than their own hedonic desires. That is not only asking for trouble, physically and emotionally, but it creates bad patterns, worldviews and attitudes for marriage, and skews your thinking about Christ and his relationship with the Church.
Marriage Isn’t Everything
It seems so obvious it almost goes without saying, and yet it must be said. Just because the goal is marriage, does mean that every dating relationship must end there. Let me explain. I think that for the Christian every dating relationship entered into should have a reasonable chance on the face of it of ending in marriage, but without spending time getting to know the person, you cant know for sure. If you see that you aren’t a good match, be honest with the person and call it off. There is a huge difference between purposeless, hedonistic dating and a relationship which doesn’t end in marriage.
Levels to Your Love
Dating is not some “next level” sort of social dimension. Dating ought to be in my opinion, the natural progression in a good friendship between a man and a woman. This applies whether the said man and woman are in their late teens, or in their late twenties or even thirties.
The concept is basically an attempt to restore the progression of a friendship to what it naturally is.
I believe that it is best for lovers to have been friends first in order to:
        prove to themselves that their attraction is more than infatuation
        to have a solid basis on which to build a more unique relationship.
Without a friendship, they are thrown right into the “deep-end” so to speak, and whilst I dont deny the very real possiblity that it will work out in the end, I believe that its much easier to love someone you know meaningfully, and to deal with problems which inevitably arise when you have been good friends first.
Thus the flow of a relationship ideally proceeds as follows:
Acquintance → Friend → Good friend → Best friend → Lover → Spouse
This is not to say that relationships cannot develop very differently, but it seems to me to be the most natural progression from friendship to something more. Marriage is the closest human relationship we can experience. If it is not based on friendship, then we might as well throw our names in a hat and draw life partners. This of course, does not mean that the friendship cannot move quickly into deeper waters, but it does mean that you should not date someone for whom you have no attraction or common interests. (Lets leave arranged marriages out of this for the sake of staying on topic)
Therefore – we would like to avoid certain cultural ‘pitfalls’ which are not conducive to what we believe is natural. One of them is the idea of too definite ‘categories’. Specifically in this instance is the category of ‘dating’. This is not because we want to be different for its own sake, but because the category carries unhelpful baggage which only makes a God-glorifying friendship more difficult. The baggage I’m referring to is the expectations that come with the term. Expectations are not intrinsically wrong, and in fact many are praiseworthy – but these good expectations can still be fulfilled because of biblically transformed minds and good discussion.
However, the vast majority of expectations associated with dating are unhelpful – for example, a sudden increase in physical contact – this is not natural, and just makes temptation more difficult to deal with.
A second example is that of exclusion and exclusivity – we want to avoid damaging other edifying friendships by creating too strong an “us and them” understanding in our friend’s minds.
A third reason is that making it known that “we are dating” might be ok for those who are involved in the relationship, but for others it appears very much as if the pair have gone from ‘nothing to everything’ in an instant – how is that normal??
It would be much better to prove the depth of their bond by their growing friendship over time. Just as faith without works is dead, so, just because you say you love someone, doesn’t mean you do. The time for announcing things comes with engagement, not before.
Not everyone would agree with this style of doing things because its quite different and it doesn’t take much contemplation to realize that this idea is a bit of a ‘Utopia’ which means “No place”. This assessment isn’t completely off the mark because the idea of a natural progression is not without its complications – physical contact, giving answers to curious friends and parental approval, just to mention a few.
Parental Approval
This is, a true paradox – its easily the simplest and most difficult part at the same time. It is simple in the sense that the girl belongs to her parents, not to the guy, and the Bible demands that children obey their parents and honour their father and mother even where they haven’t spoken to a topic specifically. That’s easy enough to understand and implement. 1 + 1 = 2 there’s really nothing to it except acceptance.
It is simultaneously difficult because misunderstandings are easy both positively and negatively and because rules that parents lay down may be discussed, but not ignored. They are not always pleasant to the ones they affect. You cannot change many of the rules given by parents, even those which you disagree with, but as far as the future goes, as well as parts of our circumstances that we can control Christians will want to submit  themselves to the loving sovereignty of God in doing whatever their parents would like. This will be worth it in the end for the sake of a good conscience, pleasing the Lord and because sacrifice proves the genuineness of the love.
With regard to speaking to the girl’s father – I’ve always been of the opinion that the conservative Christian practice of “speaking to the father” has been grossly exaggerated to the point where asking the father to date his daughter is tantamount to asking for her hand in marriage – as far as I’m concerned, that is just ridiculous! Having said that, I will concede that “a good Greek boy would have come to me and asked to date my daughter” at least informing the father is only polite and right. It always helps to explain your intentions and bring parents on-board as far as your thinking goes. This is honouring to your potential future in-laws and shows them that you respect them and are mature enough to warrant trust. 
The Physics
The general rule is the principles laid down in Scripture, but there is a need to be more specific, without at the same time undoing the ‘naturalness’ we were aiming for by going the unconventional route we have outlined above in the first place.
More specific guidelines need to take into account parental advice/rules and mutual discussion, along with the desire to be godly on the one hand and on the other not to be unnaturally rigid so as to squash all displays of affection. Ecclesiastes speaks of a time for everything. The time for most physical contact is after marriage, but before that, there are times when touch is appropriate and times when it is not. I believe that this can be best controlled in a natural friendship, rather than a sudden implementation of a set of expectations that come with the ‘dating category.’
This is an area where I do have regrets. It is helpful to remember that with raging hormones, you are often not thinking straight and are able to justify behaviour which is sinful, and so if I were to do it all over again, I would err on the side of caution for the sake of honouring God.
The Law of Diminishing Returns
Be aware of the fact that what is really exciting and enjoyable now, will in all likelihood not remain that way. As sinners we are not easily contented and therefore always looking for more. This is especially relevant during the engagement period.
The Actual Dates
Avoid seclusion.
Choose dates which will enhance your relationship and knowledge of the individual. By this I mean – don’t let every date be a movie. Go out for coffee, and picnics, and walks. These activities will give you the opportunity to speak to each other and get to know each other more.
Go out with other friends too – this will give you a chance to see how your partner interacts with other people and in a group, and is a good opportunity to see your friends and your date together.
Worship
Set aside time to read the Bible together and discuss what you read. Follow this up with prayer. Kerry and I used to travel to university together quite often and arrive early and read, discuss and pray. This not only helped us to start the day off with truth and light, but also to form good habits, and orientate our relationship around the Lord
Answering the Curious Georges (or Georginas)
Its impossible to hide an attraction from onlookers forever, and there comes a point when there really is no reason to do so. When presented with the common question, “So are you dating?” it would probably be best to answer the person according to who they are. Closer church friends can be answered by either an explanation, or simply, “no, but I understand what you mean – and yes, we do care for each other” or something generic. To non-Christian friends, trying to explain is just a waste of breath – they’ll never understand so just answer them according to their expectations – telling them you’re not dating eventually gets seen as untruthful because to them
Love = date
And trying to explain to them seems like a matter of ‘nitpicky’ semantics which is not the case. The best response is probably a, “yes.” It might turn out to be an effective evangelistic opportunity when they see how we treat each other, and how different it is to relationships they’ve had or are currently in.
Friends
Take some opportunities to see your friends as individuals – this goes a long way to showing your friends that you haven’t forgotten about them.
Communicate
Friendships, and by extension, dating relationships are based on communication. If not, then your partner may in fact be a straw man called “Infatuation”. All straw partners eventually show their true colours, but some only too late.
In my observation of other couples, I noticed that a large majority of fights and problems arise out of either misunderstandings or lack of communication.
In my relationship with Kerry we therefore resolved to always speak about everything as early as possible. This way the risk of misunderstanding, and small molehills turning into mountains is minimized. In addition this allows for mutual submission and service. Naturally, this requires a commitment from both parties not to take criticism personally, and to be willing to rethink and work through any topic. True love does not insist on its own way, and therefore if fights are arising commonly because one or both of you will not budge on an issue, then I think that there needs to be some serious self-examination.
The Fade to Normal
Remember that no matter how hard you try to keep the butterflies and the feelings of magic and romance, there is an inevitable familiarization which occurs in a relationship. Holding hands once thrilled your soul, but after a while you notice that it makes your hand sweaty and useless. Getting a message from your loved one used to make your day, but now its the norm. In a sense, and to a degree, there is nothing wrong with this, although I would urge people to fight to keep fanning the sparks into flames throughout life, there is a lesson to be learned. Your partner is on their best behaviour during the dating period. Therefore, if they are overly irksome and there are many disagreements and altercations during the dating period, beware – marriage will not magically make everything better. On the contrary, with familiarization, the chances are good that all of these negatives will be intensified.
Don’t overdo it
Proverbs 25:17 says, “Let your foot be seldom in your neighbour’s house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you.”
This is wise advice and there is an application in the dating realm too.
Dating when you are seeking to honour the Lord is not easy, but things of value seldom come cheaply. Dating can be a wonderfully fruitful and productive time of getting to know someone you are attracted to. It has many pitfalls, and many opportunities for temptation, but the Christian who sincerely wants to pursue marriage and goes in with his eyes open, having a prayerful heart and in dependence on God’s divine aid, will find the process well worth the effort.
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Lessons From Adoption

Posted: 5 May, 2017 in Adoption, Parenting

Ionizing radiation. X-rays, gamma-rays, nuclear power and atom bombs. I knew that they were dangerous, acted silently and could kill. Very few things stop ionizing radiation, so basically you can’t run or hide from it. It causes cancer.

Cancer – bald children, emaciated, skeletal old people with tubes on their faces. Death. “Could you catch it?” I wondered many times as a child.

Radiation and cancer struck fear into my young heart, and fear brought with it a desire to avoid both. Then I studied dentistry, which of course brought a lot of both radiation and cancer into my orbit. Strangely enough, the more I learned about the two topics, the more my fear melted away. I kept a healthy respect for radiation, but also learned to use it for good. I developed an empathy for cancer-sufferers, and a desire to help them wherever I could. Cancer wasn’t some dreaded bug, it was merely dysfunctional, fast-growing cells. These people were fundamentally normal.

This experience taught me a lesson which I will never forget: we fear things we don’t understand.

As a child, I did not have positive feelings toward adoption. I didn’t feel exactly negative, but I did think that it was unusual. At least, I was glad that I was not adopted. The adopted kids that I knew seemed normal enough but I didn’t know them very well, and I had heard stories about how adopted kids had “issues”.

Late 2005 God moved my family to Brackenhurst Baptist Church in Alberton, where I was exposed to adopted and fostered kids. Heck, I even fell in love with a girl who’s parents had run a home for babies and young kids awaiting adoption. She had an adopted brother. Once again, my walls were crumbling through exposure. Gradually, God used friends and circumstances to soften my heart to adoption and without necessarily verbalizing it, I knew that God was leading me to adopt a child one day. God was doing the same thing in Kerry’s heart, and by the time we got married, we both knew that we wanted to adopt.

About a year and a half into our marriage, we made the decision to adopt a little boy first, before trying to fall pregnant. Our reasoning was that we wanted our adopted child to know that they were chosen – that we wanted them, and that we hadn’t simply adopted them because we wanted A CHILD, and couldn’t have one the normal way. God gave us twin girls, which goes to show that He is sovereign even over those circumstances which you think that you can control!

 

Since 16 October 2015, I have learned some profound lessons about parenting which I think having adopted children has made easier to understand for me than for other parents who have had children through natural methods.

1.       I have come to understand something of the meaning of being adopted into God’s family. My girls didn’t have much to offer us. Basically, by adopting them, we were committing to provide for them emotionally, spiritually and financially without knowing anything about their personalities, and very little about their needs. Of course in the case of an adopted baby, you get a really cute child, and the joyous experience of raising a little human. When God adopts a sinner into His family, He pays the ultimate price, for a reprehensible individual who actually wants nothing to do with him, lives in ways He finds offensive, and even after being shown unspeakable kindness by being made one of His children, continually disappoints Him by going back to their old ways.

2.       I have been shown something deep about parenting which sadly, I think many, if not most parents never see. Perhaps it would even prevent a lot of heartache. Your children are not your property! Whether they share some of your DNA or not, they are not yours. It may sound obvious to say out aloud – Every child is an individual. This is true regardless of where they came from. We know this about ourselves – we all think of ourselves as being our own people, not somehow owned by our parents. Hypocritically, we believe that having children through biological means, somehow makes them belong to us, whereas adopted children are foreigners living in families not their own.

 

The truth is that God places children into families to be shaped and cared for, for about twenty years, and then they fly the coop. Adoption has brought this fact to the forefront of my thinking in a unique way. You may suspect that this knowledge makes me feel like I am raising nieces rather than daughters and that I would be a father distant and aloof from my children. Paradoxically, knowing that I do not own my girls, has helped me to love them more, and not less than I would have if I believed that they were my own property. The realization has just brought perspective, and allowed me to see that it is ultimately God who builds families. He destined Erin and Julia to be daughters to Anton and Kerry, just as surely as if they had been born into our family the natural way.

It comes down to this conviction: He didn’t make some sort of mistake by causing their biological or “tummy mommy” to fall pregnant with them and then give them up for adoption. No – He meant for them to be Beetges, just as He meant for me to be a Beetge.

 

Trying to possess things on this earth that were meant to be stewarded and not possessed, just brings pain and disappointment. Children don’t conform to the pattern parents set out for them and parents are not able to raise them in the fear and instruction of the Lord because they fear their rejection. Ultimately God is the only “thing” we can truly possess. He alone satisfies, and He alone has permanence. Possessing any other thing is an illusion.

 

Life changes tremendously in your twenties. It has done so for me, at any rate. I finished my degree, got married, moved out of home, relocated provinces, got a job, returned to Gauteng, bought a house, got a new job, had twins, and bought a dental practice. That’s probably more change in seven years than the first twenty put together!

If asked which aspect has been most significant, my reflexive response would be: parenting. Parenting has been one of the greatest joys and blessings I have experienced. It alters your perspective irrevocably, and shows you your own rough edges in a way that nothing else could.

One of the more interesting changes the little people achieve, is in your mind. Parents learn to predict the future. With almost perfect accuracy. This ability is not one which can be exercised at will, and it doesn’t extend more than about thirty-seconds into the future. Lets call it a Spidey-Sense, which only comes into play when the need arises. Perhaps it is a gift.

As your child goes about their kiddy-activities you get flashes of probable futures and generally you make moves to influence the outcome to be most favorable. Every now and then one possibility becomes a certainty. Sometimes, initially, you ignore this Spidey-Sense to your detriment, but soon you learn to trust it.

Maybe this child-clairvoyance is helpful as you shepherd little people through the dangerous years of an undeveloped frontal cortex, but in the rest of life, relying on your mind can be a problem.

Allowing possibilities too much weight in your thinking can cause you to live in fear of unrealities – things which might happen, but also might not (and usually won’t, in all probability).

This phenomenon is what causes us to fear the dark, or that noise you wake up to at 01:30am. It is usually irrational, and very often unhelpful. Of course, not giving any consideration to possibilities makes you reckless – in short, a teenager. Giving too much consideration to possibilities causes you to stagnate, take no risks, and lose enjoyment in life.

As a Christian, I have the most freeing reality to fall back on. It allows me to give due consideration to possibilities, without being paralyzed by “what-if’s”. This is the certainty that, “…for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. ” (Romans 8:28)

The above promise, along with the instruction to, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) helps me to strike the right balance and keep a hold on peace.

Life is about living, and taking action requires risk. Risk implies analysis of the odds, and analysis considers possibilities. Giving those possibilities the correct weight is the trick, and knowing how much to trust your own brain… well that is wisdom.

A Digital Comeback

Posted: 14 April, 2017 in Uncategorized

Its been over a year since I last posted anything on this blog. Thank goodness that WordPress doesn’t give up on you and close your blog down when it’s author goes AWOL!

Even before January 2015 when I made my last post, I had begun to write less and less. Well, that isn’t entirely true. I had begun to publish less and less. I continued to put my thoughts down, the old fashioned way – with a pen and paper. What could be the cause of this fade from public exposure, you might wonder. I have been pondering the same recently and I have come up with two answers:

The first is that, by God’s grace, He has been working in me and, I trust, producing a smidgen of humility. As one is exposed to life, you begin to realize your own insignificance – the wealth of fine minds out there can make you feel as if you have very little to offer.

The second reason, and perhaps the dominant one is that in many ways, I am a coward. I grew tired of putting my ideas out there for others to criticize, tear apart, and disagree with so I began to write my thoughts down privately. Of course, this feeling of privacy is only temporary since “…nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” (Luke 8:17)

I still benefited from the catharsis and meditation of writing my musings down, but not as much as I used to. When you write in the public sphere, it really forces you to critically analyze your views, and open yourself up to correction, which isn’t easy. Things of value rarely are.

So here I am – coaxing the burners to life, and re-greasing the gears. I trust that it will be a positive move from a personal standpoint, and if my thoughts get someone else’s mental machinery working at the same time then that will be a bonus.

Soli Deo Gloria

The Alchemist Book Review

Posted: 7 January, 2015 in Uncategorized

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You have probably heard of the title, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, even if you don’t know much about it. I certainly had, and it was something I vaguely associated with Artemis Fowl, another book I have heard of but know almost nothing about.

Well, I have been disillusioned – there is no relation between the two. I was given a copy of The Alchemist for my birthday a few years back. The cover says: Paulo Coelho, The International Bestseller, The Alchemist. An impressive caption for such a thin little volume.

However, having a sneaky suspicion that the book was dodgy, I hadn’t gotten around to reading it until recently. I had been reading a history of World War I, so I felt like a little fiction as a break, and picked up The Alchemist.

So, do you know what an Alchemist is? Me neither… If you look it up, you’ll most probably find that it is someone who practices Alchemy. Not very helpful – what then is alchemy? According to The Merriam-Webster Online dictionary, it is, “a medieval chemical science and speculative philosophy aiming to achieve the transmutation of the base metals into gold, the discovery of a universal cure for disease, and the discovery of a means of indefinitely prolonging life”

If you’re starting to hear a faint beeping noise, don’t worry, its just your quackery alarm giving it’s warning signals. “But wait,” your mental voice says, “its only a novel – don’t take the title too seriously, who knows, it might be a good story?”

I’m writing this post to tell you, it isn’t. Not only is the story and writing style weak, but the book is, in fact, downright harmful. But as it is an international bestseller, I will need to substantiate my opinion.

The poor literary style may stem from the fact that the book has been translated into English, or it may be inherent, I’m not sure. This idea may surprise you – after all, why then is the book so popular?

It is basically a story about a young spanish shepherd boy who gives up the good to go for the great, and follow his destiny. The book follows him on his journey in realising this destiny, and shows all that he learns along the way.

That may not sound too terrible, and it isn’t – but as the saying goes, “The devil is in the details.”

In my opinion, what makes the book so popular is a two-fold reason.

1. Universal dissatisfaction with life, and the belief that we deserve better

2. The pantheistic, khumbaya-eccumenical faith

The Alchemist borrows many characters and references from the Bible, and often sails very close to the wind with regard to outright blasphemy. It also makes references to other religions such as Islam, and basically presents an, all-roads-lead-to-Rome type of picture, where truth is a relative idea. The book encourages dissatisfaction with the ordinary, and the idea that one should be willing to sacrifice all in the quest for achieving/finding one’s destiny, and that anyone who truly loves you will be happy to be a part of that sacrifice. This mysterious entity, “destiny” can only be found by following one’s heart, because, “where your heart is, there your treasure will be also.” and the “omens” because according to Melchizedek, “…there is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, its because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth… The Soul of the World is nourished by people’s happiness. And also by unhappiness, envy, and jealousy. To realise one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation. All things are one. And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” 1

“In order to find the treasure, you will have to follow the omens. God has prepared a path for everyone to follow. You just have to read the omens that he left for you.” 2

What does Scripture actually say to these issues, when we aren’t ripping characters and verses out of context?

Jeremiah 17:9 says, ” The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Matthew 6:21 is quoted quite often in The Alchemist, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” But if you read the two preceding verses Jesus says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” The treasure Santiago eventually finds is gold.

Leviticus 19:26 says, “You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes.”

Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

So to a well-informed Christian, the error of this book is clear, but to an unbeliever this book is very dangerous. First of all it encourages an unhealthy discontentment. Secondly, it presents a twisted view of Scripture, where one uses and interprets the Bible merely as a guide in achieving personal goals, and not as the sacred, infallible word of Almighty God, who says in Psalm 2:12, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all those who take refuge in him.” Thirdly, it presents the popular idea that truth is relative and that all we need to do to go to heaven is, follow our destiny and do the best we can.

Just as telling a man walking towards the edge of a cliff that all he needs to do is follow his nose to live a healthy life is fatal, so is the philosophy of The Alchemist.

1. Paulo Coelho. The Alchemist. HarperCollins. 2006. p 21

2. Ibid. p 21

The Heart of the Law

Posted: 28 June, 2014 in Uncategorized

I am a fan of J.R.R. Tolkiens great novel, The Lord of The Rings. Recently I had the opportunity to read the book again and I was struck by the following passage. For the sake of context, the Fellowship of The Ring which was made up of four hobbits, two men, an elf, a dwarf and a wizard has been broken up. Frodo and his faithful servant Sam have gone off alone towards Mordor but Merry and Pippin, the other two hobbits have been captured by a band of Uruk hai and are being pursued by Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. In the land of Rohan they meet up with a group of horsemen led by Eomer, the nephew of the King of Rohan.

‘How shall a man judge what to do in such times?’ ‘As he has ever judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.’ ‘True indeed,’ said Eomer. ‘But I do not doubt you, nor the deed which my heart would do. Yet I am not free to do all as I would. It is against our law to let strangers wander at will in our land, until the king himself shall give them leave, and more strict is the command in these days of peril. I have begged you to come back willingly with me, and you will not. Loth am I to begin a battle of one hundred against three.’ ‘I do not think your law was made for such a chance,’ said Aragorn. ‘Nor am I indeed a stranger…’

As I read this I was reminded of what Jesus said in reply to the Pharisees who accused his disciples of profaning the Sabbath in Matthew 12:1-8:

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, ‘Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath.’ He said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? And if you had know what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.’

Without going in depth into the Sabbath law, the Pharisees were ridgidly applying the Law in ways that God had never intended for it to be applied. The Law of God reflects His Holy character, it is not a set of arbitrary rules. This, of course highlights the need for the transformation of our minds and an earnest pursuit of God, that we may know Him and live as He intended, rightly dividing and applying the Word of Truth.