My WordPress dashboard tells me I have posted over 500 times over the last two and a half years, 523 times to be exact. The circumstances that got me into this – and have kept me at it – turned out to be seasons of trial that brought with them unexpected margin and need for clarity. That margin, along with some wise counsel, combined to translate desire into actual words on the page.
Like many, in early 2020 I found myself stuck at home with everything canceled because of some new global coronavirus. The lock-downs came early to our corner of Central Asia, landing us at home several weeks before they would also be introduced in the West.
Sometime in that season I had come across a couple of posts from Tim Challies that proved to be very helpful for me. The first one, Writers Write, challenged me to stop thinking of myself as a writer if I wasn’t regularly actually, well, writing. The second post, Has There Ever Been a Better Time to Start a Blog?, gave me a roadmap for how to get started. Once I had made it through a few weeks of posting, I reached out to Tim to let him know I was putting his advice into action. His encouragement then and along the way has been a vital part of maintaining the hope necessary to keep on writing. Many of you have found my writing through Tim’s blog.
There were a few other practical pieces of advice that also proved to be wise guidance. I believe I heard them on Chase Replogle’s Pastor Writer Podcast. The first was that a writer should not be so much concerned with what others find interesting, as much as with what he himself finds interesting. This makes good sense. If we find ourselves captured by a certain topic, then we are much more able to invite others in to be captured as well. For example, I find Central Asian proverbs to be both wise and witty. Will anyone else out there actually find them interesting as well? Or am I destined to rub my chin in a very real and very lonely fascination? Turns out this is the wrong question. If the desire is in me to dig into certain topic, or to tell a certain story, that most often means it is something I should write about. The sheer diversity of readers that are out there mean it will almost always resonate with someone, and perhaps even serve to pique the interest of some who have never before themselves slowed down to rub their chins at that particular topic.
Secondly, I was greatly helped by the idea that writing is an act of faith. I often wonder when I will run out of things to write about, when the stories will dry up, or when I will reach for some principle to explore, only to find the metaphorical shelves bare. The truth is that I really don’t have any promise saying that there will always be something I will be able to write about. But again and again, when I sit down to write I find there are at least one or two things I can write about in that moment. What can I write about today has proved a much more faithful guide than what should I write about. Writing is full of surprises. Some posts that I thought were quite mediocre fare turned out to get the most engagement from readers. This idea that writing is an act of faith helps me to keep on going, knowing that writing, like any gifting, is not something ultimately originating in myself, but in the boundless generosity of a good father. Amazed as I am that he keeps giving, he tends to keep on doing so – a generosity flowing out of his very nature.
The encouragement of you, my readers, has also been a crucial piece of keeping this blog going. Though it has caught me by surprise, it has been a true delight to know that posts focusing on missions, wisdom, history, and resurrection have encouraged you, have made you laugh, and have even proved to be edifying. Your comments and emails have strengthened my commitment to keep on going, even when I had to step away from the blog for seasons of increased busyness. I am truly grateful for your generosity toward me in this two-and-a-half year experiment.
Finally, I am grateful to God for his kind and mysterious providence, for the seasons of trial he has given that enabled this blog to start and to keep going. I began writing during the Covid-19 lock-downs. A medical leave in the US for my daughter’s new-onset diabetes provided the margin needed to keep on writing during that first year. The various implosions and misadventures of ministry in Central Asia provided fertile material to work with. Now, a second medical leave is once again giving the same gift of margin as we seek to heal as a family. These seasons of perplexity and uncertainty in life and ministry have proved to be some of the most productive times for writing. And writing has itself been part of what God has used to help carry me through the fog. I may not know what our life as spiritual nomads will look like in six months, but today I can write something. And that small act of re-creation has proved to be surprisingly grounding and life-giving.
500 posts down, by the grace of God. May he give grace for 500 more.