The Breaking of the Fellowship
In today’s Lord of the Rings passage we read:
‘Well Frodo,’ said Aragorn at last. ‘I fear that the burden is laid upon you. You are the Bearer appointed by the Council. Your own way you alone can choose. […] Most likely it seems that if Gandalf were here now the choice would still wait on you. Such is your fate.'”
And in today’s Scripture we hear:
When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes.” (Jonah 3:6)
Like the Fellowship, we cannot forever deliberate. We might long-rely on the wisdom of the Elronds, Galadriels, and Gandalfs in our life; but eventually their advice will reach it bounds, or they will no longer be present to give us direction. We can let the Great River of life take us where it flows naturally, but eventually we must choose a shore, and choose a road West or East. There is a time for deliberation, and then there is a time for decision. And it is important that we take the time to deliberate and discern, collecting as much information as possible, weighing outcomes, and seeking to check our emotions, biases, and weaknesses. But often excess deliberation–“just an hour more”–masks the recognition of the inevitable: that we have made a decision, but fear to act upon it. Whether out of conflicting responsibilities and competing senses of duty, like Aragorn, or out of concern of how our decision will impact our family and friends, like Frodo, we hesitate. But instead we should follow the example of the king of Ninevah, and embrace our decisions after deliberation is done. We must be both hasty and not hasty, as a certain someone will tell us; we should hold discernment and action equally in both hands.