a little God figurine

A few days ago I found an old book of short stories by J. R. R Tolkien. There’s not a hobbit to be found in the whole book, but they’re still good stories. There was a moment in Smith of Wootton Major that gave me chills.

Preparing for the Children’s Feast, the Master Cook’s strange apprentice bakes a charmed star into the cake. At the top of the cake the apprentice places a little playful figurine of the Faery Queen. During the feast, one little boy unwittingly swallows the star, and as he grows it works in him, making him a clever smith, a haunting singer, and above all, a wanderer. His wanderings take him into the land of Faery, and eventually into the very presence of the Faery Queen. After talking with her for some time, Tolkien writes,

his mind turned back retracing his life, until he came to the day of the Children’s Feast and the coming of the star, and suddenly he saw again the little dancing figure with its wand, and in shame he lowered his eyes from the Queen’s beauty.

But she laughed again. “Do not be grieved for me,” she said. “Nor too much ashamed of your own folk. Better a little doll, maybe, than no memory of Faery at all. For some the only glimpse. For some the awaking. Ever since that day you have desired to see me, and I have granted your wish.

Faced with the beauty and grace of the Queen herself, Smith is ashamed to think of the little figurine on top of the cake. Every so often (and far less often than I’d like) I have an experience that brings me face to face with my God. In those moments, I think I see him almost as he really is. And like Smith in Tolkien’s story, when I think about the ways that I’ve thought about the Lord in the past, or the ways I’ve represented him to other people, I’m appalled at my lack of reverence, at my lack of awe for who he is.

God forgive me, too often I think of him as something akin to a little figurine on top of a cake—a small, innocuous, decoration, something to move out of the way in order to get to the main business of life. What will it take for me to set aside the little God figurine, and to meet God Himself?

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