Following Your Joy: The Hobbit and God’s Call on Your Life

Sarah Arthur

Christian or Not?

Are The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Christian stories? The stories don’t mention God or Jesus; but J. R. R. Tolkien, the author, was a Christian. Asked to describe himself, Tolkien gave a quick summary and then added, “Or more important, I am a Christian (which can be deduced from my stories).” If we pay attention when reading his works, we can tell that Tolkien was a person of faith.

Hobbit home2 TSP 181299006Philosopher Jacques Maritain wrote, “If you want to make a Christian work, then be Christian, and simply try to make a beautiful work, into which your heart will pass; do not try to ‘make Christian.’” Too often, Christians think that what they create should have an obvious spiritual meaning. But Tolkien believed that in the act of creating, we participate in the work of God. God is a Creator and has made us to be what Tolkien called “sub-creators,” which is one of the primary callings of the human heart.

Tolkien did not set out to write Christian stories. He set out to write stories that gave him joy. He wrote to the glory of God; in doing so, his faith shone through.


Following Your Joy

Each of us has a vocation or a spiritual calling, which may be different from our career. Tolkien was a professor of English literature and language. But his vocation, his true spiritual calling, was to create languages, stories, and worlds, through which God touched the lives of other people.

People may tell you what you’re good at and suggest career paths. You could be a teacher, an emergency room doctor, an engineer. Some of us make a living by following our joy, doing what we deeply love. Some of us just make a living; but we find creative ways to integrate our spiritual vocation into our jobs or to pursue our vocation on the side, as Tolkien did.


The letter to the Colossians begins with a prayer, asking that the Colossians be filled with the knowledge of God so that all their efforts will be “worthy of the Lord” (see Colossians 1:9–10, NRSV). Colossians 3:17 (NRSV) adds, “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Whether you are working, painting, playing guitar, skateboarding, or writing fairy tales, do everything for God’s glory.

So, be a Christian. Follow your joy. Pursue the vocation to which God has called you. If you pursue it, as Tolkien did, to the glory of God, you never know how you might influence the world.
                                                                                                                                                                  Photo Credit: algo via Compfight cc


What do you love to do? What gives you joy? Write your answer on a slip of paper. Then turn the paper over and write down one way you can bring God glory through that activity in the days and weeks ahead.

Dig a Little Deeper: Explore the friendship between J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, and learn how they inspired each other as writers and as people of faith.

Sarah Arthur is the author of Walking with Bilbo: A Devotional Adventure through The Hobbit and its prequel, Walking with Frodo. When she isn’t curled up with a good book, she is blogging at

—from devozine (November/December 2013). Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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