It’s no secret that J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is full of Christian imagery, but upon diving into The Fellowship of the Ring, I soon realized that I had vastly underestimated the extent of said imagery. I was so taken aback and borderline giddy by the powerful, convicting metaphors I was reading that I started underlining and writing margin notes, a practice formerly saved exclusively for academic reading but never ever done when reading for pleasure. One passage in particular stuck out to me.

Towards the beginning of Tolkien’s narrative, Gandalf explains the dark history of the Rings to Frodo who now possesses the One, the most powerful and sought-after of the Rings. Gandalf tells Frodo that the only way to guarantee Frodo’s safety—safety from the deadly powers of the ring and from the Enemy who desperately searches for the One—is to destroy the ring completely, which, as Frodo quickly learns, is much easier said than done. Not only does Frodo find that he doesn’t have the willpower to let go of the ring, but Gandalf delivers the news that only one option exists for destroying the ring:

Your small fire, of course would not melt even ordinary gold. This Ring has already passed through it unscathed, and even unheated. But there is no smith’s forge in this Shire that could change it at all. Not even the anvils and furnaces of the Dwarves could do that. It has been said that dragon-fire could melt and consume the Rings of Power, but there is not now any dragon left on earth in which the old fire is hot enough; nor was there ever any dragon, not even Ancalagon the Black, who could have harmed the One Ring, the Ruling Ring, for that was made by Sauron himself.

There is only one way: to find the Cracks of Doom in the depths of Orodruin, the Fire-mountain, and cast the Ring in there, if you really wish to destroy it, to put it beyond the grasp of the Enemy forever.

Like the ring, our sin cannot be defeated by any amount of sheer willpower or good deeds or self-help. It is far too powerful and all-consuming to be affected by any worldly power. The only option, the only price, for sin is death—a plunge into the Cracks of Doom.

And that plunge has already been taken on our behalf. Jesus took on our sin, paid the penalty, and saved us from the punishment that we had no hope of escaping on our own. By his death, Jesus has “put [us] beyond the grasp of the Enemy forever.” And despite the lies that the Enemy tries to tell us about our standing before God, once we are made white as snow in the blood of the Cross, nothing will ever change that.

I have about 350 more pages to find out what Frodo decides to do with the ring: will he succumb to its evil powers or will he find strength outside of himself to destroy it? But for now, I’ll rest in the knowledge that my ring—the burden of my sin and wickedness—is destroyed, once and for all, and I hope that Frodo finds the same freedom.