London living is tough. It’s expensive, whether renting, trying to buy a small box in the city and get on the property ladder, or just travelling around; it costs a mint. The pace of life is frenetic. We’ll all be jogging en mass on the streets into work soon, elbowing anyone ambling along who gets in our way. And in case you hadn’t noticed, people aren’t all that friendly either, at least they don’t appear that way at first; we don’t talk to strangers, don’t you know?! We prefer silence on our commute. Crime rates are usually higher too. Schools aren’t particularly great for the kids either, and the better ones are oversubscribed and tough to access. You can’t even enjoy the stars at night because of the light pollution.

So why live in a city? Why not sell up and move out to where the grass is greener and the air is cleaner? For beach walks and country rambles. A nice family home and garden, with good schools a plenty and friendly neighbours to boot….

This temptation is particularly strong whenever I visit my in-laws in Cambridgeshire and hang out in their spacious home and swimming pool, enjoying a BBQ with close relatives, most of whom live just a few minutes’ drive away. Why are we leaving all this behind for the smoke and smog of claustraphobic London? we wonder, as we hit the M11.

Only, this time, as our car pulled off the drive way, the sweet melody of the Shire, from The Lord of the Rings, was playing on Classic FM (my baby girl’s favourite radio station btw). It conjured up blissful images of the lush, green, roaming hills of Hobbiton (aka New Zealand); happy living in tardis-like tree trunk homes. Who could want for more? My large hairy feet would fit in well, and as a shorter man, it would be nice not to be looked down on for a change.

But to stay in the Shire threatens the welfare of the Shire itself and the lives of those living in it, as Frodo and his friends would soon discover. There was an adventure of awesome significance they had to undertake. People needed saving from the Dark Lord Sauron and his destructive, you might say, satanic plans. If they hadn’t said goodbye to the Shire they would have never seen the extraordinary elven paradise, Rivendale, or the magnificent Minas Tirith. More importantly, they would not have known the deep satisfaction of risking everything in a noble cause, of living a life that really matters, one that makes a difference.

There is a greater adventure for every Christian to carry out, the Great Commission, to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20), to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). Only, the stakes are far higher, people’s eternal destinies are ‘on the line’.

There’ll be plenty of time to enjoy the Shire (the new Eden) in eternity. But in the interim, will you play your part? God has many, many people in cities. It’s where most people are in fact. Cities like London can have a significant upstream impact on all the happens downstream, from politics to media, to many aspects of culture. And right now the battle is raging; secularism, materialism and individualism are on the advance, at times it even looks as if they’re winning!

So, we could do with your help. Precious people are ‘at stake’.

For this season in our lives, until God moves us on, my wife and I have said goodbye to the Shire, and all that that entails for our family. Perhaps it’s time for you to say goodbye too?