It doesn’t take much reading around the blogosphere to encounter thinkers and intellects who can make me feel like a person of diminished capacity and I often imagine that I have accidentally stumbled into an AP <insert chosen specialty here> class. As a matter of fact, wide reading of many not so well known or even relatively anonymous blogs as well as comments on those postings can serve as a healthy dose of humble tea, steeped in the reality that the pond out there is extremely large and there are some very big fish swimming around in it. It brings to mind James and John’s efforts to sit at the left and right hand of Jesus in the kingdom (Mark 10:37). Considering the innumerable souls shown to be before the throne of grace in Revelation (Revelation 7:9), that is one hefty request.
Why do I bring this up? Up till now, most of us have lived our lives in relatively small ponds (areas of social and intellectual interaction), but the Internet and the blogosphere is changing that. There are millions of blogs (current estimates range between 4-10 million worldwide) and Christian blogs form a reasonable and expanding percentage of that number.
People begin blogging for all sorts of reasons. I wanted to force myself into regular and disciplined writing on something other than technical matters (I have been a technical writer and indexer for the last 14 years). What I found was that in many ways starting a blog is like getting on a treadmill, either you keep moving your legs or you fall off. Some people get tired of the grind and just quit entirely, while others maintain their perspective and purpose and just slow down to a sustainable pace.
I guess you could say that daily blogging with one or more posts is real run, almost daily blogging is a light run; blogging several times a week is a jog, and blogging anywhere from several times a month to once a week is a walk. Almost everyone starts out either really running or at a light run and a large percentage of those (the ones that dont abandon blogging entirely) choose at a later stage of their effort to just go on long walks. I personally have settled into somewhere between light running and jogging; some weeks I sort of run, other weeks I jog, but even with that commitment the pace is very demanding (it sometimes take me several hours to complete a posting) so I don’t know how people with regular work schedules outside the home do it. They have my complete admiration.
However, the real issue that I have been mulling over recently is the quality of a lot of the writing and thinking out there in the Christian blogosphere, which includes both postings and comments. As I have serendipitously visited numerous new blogs (the Christian Carnival has helped with this) over the last few months, I have begun to feel a lot less special. This was and continues to be a humbling experience. That is a good thing, a very good thing. We all need regular cups of humble tea, and if we resist, God will provide them for us, though by necessity they will be more difficult to consume. I have now come to the conclusion that the Internet is being used by God for that very purpose, at least for me.
Let me amplify. Once you begin blogging you go from being one of a few (your social sphere, your church group where it is easy to shine) to being one of many (the larger Christian blogosphere, which include commenters who may not be bloggers but readers who are willing to engage the debate, where you are constantly challenged). I believe that this is a God-given opportunity for spiritual growth, but is only a small taste of what it will be like to take the next step, which is into the Kingdom of God. I have come to believe that a lot of us (I include myself here) are in for a big shock when we arrive among the saints of God. In the Kingdom we will interact with all believers from all time, from the first to the last person adopted into the family of God, and I believe that many, if not most of them, will be wonders to behold.
Ever since I started blogging I have asked myself why I do it. I have also discussed that with my wife and a few select friends. I believe there are a number of reasons, some more noble than others. On the noble side, I believe that God has given me an uncommon way of looking at things that sometimes provides useful insights for those struggling to live the Christian life. Since my gifts seem to include teaching (both in my professional and Christian life), I have sought out ways to share those insights in a useful manner. One example of that would be my ongoing Knowing God study. The Internet and blogging have given me the opportunity to reach that one person whom God has sent to hear that unique insight he has given me. But I have to constantly remind myself it is God who is at work to will and to do his own good pleasure and I am just an in-process vessel.
There are also reasons that are not completely noble and have a mixed purpose. Deep, deep down I want to matter, not just exist. I want to do some things that have value beyond the moment and put something lasting into the eternal order of things. Some of that is driven by a sense of purpose along with a sense of failure, which sin by its nature imparts to us, a realization that we are not what we could or were meant to be. As a result, at our very best we try to transcend that failure and be someone with whom God wants to walk in the cool of the evening and converse with. I think deep in our souls we all hearken back to the heart of Adam before the fall, to be a friend of God.
However, along with that redemptive purpose there is the part of me that seeks the corresponding recognition, the validation that praise imparts and the feeling that hearing Well done! brings to ones soul. It can be argued that this essential and necessary seeking of support and nurture is right and true. The problem is that it is easily transformed into prideful desire, wanting to be elevated above others so people (and God) can see how great or significant I am, and that can be very destructive and is very difficult to extricate from our souls. C. S. Lewis saw pride as “the utmost evil” which is often given its head in the service of beating down lessor sins, which while at the first seems constructive is actually alarmingly destructive in the end, having brought the greatest of God’s people to devastation (c.f. Solomon).
Paul understood this, where in 2 Corinthians 12:7 he said:
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
Even the greatest of the saints continually struggles against pride and conceit and God, our loving father, responds by creating situations to remind us of our weakness and mundaneness. For me, God is using the Internet, the blogosphere, and other writers and commenters to remind me that while he has given me something unique to say, it is just one note in the Symphony of Redemption and while I need to play it well and true, it is only a very small part of a very large piece of music.
I want to take this moment to thank all of the readers of this blog. If you have gotten this far, you are indeed special. My prayer is that you will always hold me to task for what and how I write and that when God places me on your heart you will remember me in your prayers.
Grace and peace and the joy of the Lord be with you today.
Update: Welcome to those coming from the LXX (70th) Christian Carnival. See also my earlier posting The Why Of Blogging, At Least For Me.
This post is a really important reminder to all of us. Thank you.
I’ve not been reading or blogging much lately because I’ve had other work and relationships taking priority. But I treasure the relationships I’ve found in the blogosphere. I don’t fully understand why–but I think this post makes sense of it. I identify with everything you said. The balance between humility and pride, between wanting to be excellent for God’s glory and wanting to be validated by other people is truly like walking on the edge of a sword. We are, after all, relational creatures–God made us that way so that we would seek Him.
I just presented an on-line seminar today–and when I get the evaluation I know there will be a lot of positive feedback and a few critical comments about how fast or slow I talked–but what I treasure about the experience is the joy of knowing that someone will take my humble offering and add it to her knowledge and experience. It will become something new.
You have that gift with your writing skills. If you start to feel puffed up, take a step back and focus on those who are receiving your gift. Take joy in their epiphanies. Take pleasure in the act of giving. Blogging can be an act of service. And service always keeps us humble.
Your encouragement is appreciated. Life can be very hard. You struggle against sin and then you die, but after that it gets very easy and all your questions will be answered and there is no one to condemn you for certainty, for we will know as we are known.
Great post! So many good insights. I like the running analogy, especially because I’ve been feeling pretty winded lately. Sometimes we bloggers need to stop and smell the roses (other people’s blogs) while we rest from our own.
On a related “note”
, can you update my blog name in your roll from “Proverbial Wife” to “Marla Swoffer”? Thanks!
William, your transparency is refreshing to me, as well as a blessing. I’m glad that the Christian Carnival led me to this post of yours. Thank you for sharing from your heart. –Wayne