Have you seen the Lord of the Rings movies? (I'll admit I never read the books). At the start of the first film, Frodo the hobbit agrees to destroy the Ring of Power, thereby putting an end to evil. To do this, he must travel to Mordor and throw the ring into the fires of Mount Doom. He and 8 friends embark on this long journey. For the rest of the three films, they walk hundreds of miles, experience incredible hardships, and narrowly escape death countless times. At the end (spoiler alert!), Frodo and his friend Sam climb Mount Doom, while the other seven friends are part of an army fighting the forces of evil nearby. Just when it seems like the armies of good will be defeated and Frodo and Sam will be consumed by the fires, giant eagles appear, rescuing the good guys and carrying them to safety. I love happy endings! But then one has to wonder if Frodo and Sam asked themselves, "Hey, why didn't we just let these giant eagles carry us all the way here in the first place? We would have completed the whole journey in a day!"
I suspect that many of us, at the end of our lives, will wonder something similar. God had a plan for us, for the journey of our lives. But instead of following that plan, we took a harder road. That's not to say that God's plan gets us out of any hardship; in fact, trial is part of God's plan to shape our character. But when we follow God's plan, we experience freedom, joy, and purpose. GK Chesterton once said, "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and not tried." This Sunday, we will look at Leviticus 25, at a rather radical idea God had at the foundation of the nation of Israel, an idea He called the Year of Jubilee. We'll talk about how this idea should shape the way we live today. Have you tried living the life God has planned for you?