Growing up, I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, until the spine had cracked and the pages were falling out. In 2012, Peter Jackson released a three-part movie based on the novel. Of all the scenes in those movies, however, one stood out above the rest: where the dragon Smaug attacks Laketown. In that scene, one quote resonated with my soul: “You look at me.”
Setting the Scene
Years before, Smaug had attacked the dwarvish city of Erebor in order to claim their vast riches of gold and gemstones for himself. Chasing the dwarves from their homes, Smaug took up residence in the Lonely Mountain. When the dwarves return to take back what Smaug had stolen from them, the dragon turns his wrath on the nearby human settlement of Laketown. He bears down on the shanty village and begins to burn it to the ground.
As the inhabitants of Laketown flee for their survival, racing around in fear and panic, only one man has the courage to stand up to Smaug: a bowman named Bard.
Bard climbs to the top of the town’s bell tower with his bow and arrows in hand. His arrows are ineffective against the dragon’s scales and in minutes, he is out of arrows. It is at that moment that his son, Bain, arrives with a black arrow that had been forged generations ago and is said to be able to kill the dragon. But Smaug has destroyed Bard’s bow on his last pass at the bell tower and he has no way to hurl the arrow at the dragon’s heart.
Bard has only one choice: to rig up a makeshift bow and balance the black arrow on his son’s shoulder. By now, Smaug has become aware of Bard’s plan and he begins to mock the pair of humans. Houses crunch under his weight as he moves in for the kill. The son, Bain, hears the enemy coming from behind, and he turns to look at the dragon. Bard the bowman speaks to his son, his voice full of love. “Look at me. You look at me.”
And Bain turns, locking eyes with his father in a moment of pure trust. Bard sends the black arrow flying—straight into the dragon’s heart. His aim is true and Smaug spirals to his death. While Bain and the survivors will have plenty of challenges to overcome, in the end, [spoiler alert!] they are victorious.
Want to watch the scene? Click here.
Who Are You Looking At?
Has this year felt like a dragon has descended, lighting everything on fire? Has it been a year of heartbreak, a year of constant change, or a year tinged with fear and anxiety? Maybe your carefully laid plans have been dissolved into ash. Maybe the hair on the back of your neck begins to rise after a few quiet days as you wonder when the next blow will come.
One of the most noticeable symptoms chaos has in my life is the impact on my writing. However bold and brave I try to be, fear and anxiety sometimes creep in through the cracks. There are days that I find myself unable to move; frozen like a deer as the dragon sweeps down in front of me to light something else on fire. Those days, I can’t put two coherent words down on the page if my life depended on it. Projects I had planned to complete sit gathering dust. My insecurities begin to mount. Panic clutches at my heart as the enemy stomps on one thing after another. My focus drifts. My goals shatter.
And then I hear Jesus’ voice, soft but steady in the roar of the chaos. “Look at me. You look at me.”
The question is this: When everything is on fire around us, and the enemy is closing in, what are we focusing on? Are we keeping our eyes on the chaos? Or are we keeping our eyes on Jesus? Do we remember that we’re not alone and that there is help?
Someone once said, “True faith is keeping your eyes on God when the world around you is falling apart.”
Like Smaug, the devil talks a big game. He has come to steal, kill, and destroy, and he will stop at nothing to crush our spirit. He wants to lodge a wedge between us and God and prevent us from doing what God has called us to do.
That’s when we need to have the courage and determination of Bard and Bain in The Hobbit. We need to focus our eyes firmly on Jesus and let Him fight and win the battle against the dragon. Like Bain, we just need to show up and let Him use us for great things.
So I challenge you today—as you try to navigate the rest of this year—to listen to His still small voice. “Look at me. You look at me.”
©2023 Lainey La Shay