One of the marks of genius in Lord of the Rings is the way Tolkien builds suspense and the sense of uncertainty, fear and danger as the quest progresses.

And yet within the confusion fear and setback there is woven a thread of some deeper meaning. Characters appear to assist or save the hero, but they are never introduced as a deus ex machina plot device. Instead the introduction of a new character is the result of a deeper plot–one that is deeper than the awareness of any of the characters, one that is only guessed at–even by the characters who are wisest and most aware.

When Tom Bombadil rescues the hobbits from Old Man Willow, Frodo wonders if he heard them calling for help. Tom replies, “Eh what? Did I hear you calling? Nay I did not hear, I was busy singing. Just chance brought me then, if chance is what you call it. It was no plan of mine, though I was waiting for you.”

This is the way we operate and interact with providence. We go about our business, aware that there is a greater plan, aware that there are other forces drawing on us and pulling us on, and yet that plan is so much bigger than anyone can see. That plan is greater than we can image and all we can do is mind our own business, try to trust and obey and try day by day to say the simplest of prayers: Thy Will be Done.