Blog post No 100
This is my 100th post on ‘Riding on the Clouds’ and, as such, it’s timely to review this blog and recap some of the experience.
‘Riding on the Clouds’ has been running for almost a year now. I had the idea back in February 2022 after reading some other blogs and feeling it was worth stepping out to do. It wasn’t the first time for me as I had a theology reflection blog about a decade ago but I did not use it for long. I also had a family blog which went for longer and largely revolved a holiday trip. But they were long past. The difference with ‘Riding on the Clouds’ was that it would also be more public as it could be easily accessed through the church website. It also provided links with other material like the podcast and youtube devotionals.
The real question for me was what was the purpose of this blog and did it have a particular thematic focus? I knew that I could spend a lot of time over-thinking it and not actually writing. I prayed about it, reached a conviction and then set it up through wordpress feeling somewhat daunted by the myriad of possibilities which were available in terms of set up. The blogging world had changed a lot in a decade! What I did know was how important it was to start writing and getting a routine happening. And so, the first post went up on 11th February 2022. I’d completely forgotten that post until a few minutes ago when I looked back to see what was first up on the blog. It was based around Genesis 20-21 though I do know that there was a lot more of an argument that I had planned to write on Genesis 20. I had a few photos and extras in those early posts but I quickly moved to written posts rather than spending time on the photos and presentation. I’d like to have each post with pictures and a better layout. I know that there is so much more that could be done to improve the visual presentation but I’m also aware that is not my expertise and there are only so many hours in a day. So I have focussed on the writing.
What I have not focussed upon is my audience. After almost 12 months I don’t think that I even have an audience apart from the usual spammers, often in Russian, including one particularly persistent fellow named Eric who has sent me this message about 50 times:
Hey, my name’s Eric and for just a second, imagine this…
– Someone does a search and winds up at ridingontheclouds.com.
– They hang out for a minute to check it out. “I’m interested… but… maybe…”
– And then they hit the back button and check out the other search results instead.
– Bottom line – you got an eyeball, but nothing else to show for it.
– There they go.
Of course, writing a blog which ends up in the blogging wilderness with no one reading it, does raise the obvious question: Why bother?
The bottom line for me is not the audience, or, at least, not Eric’s audience. The real reason that I have kept going is one of faith – I’ve had the conviction of the Lord wanting me to keep writing. And I have certainly been very aware that there have been postive spin offs from this very discipline and process of writing. For instance, I have found it feeding into my sermons at times or being used in a pastoral letter or the like. And it helps keep my own thinking sharp. It’s one thing to have an idea, quite another to put it into writing. But the question still remains – is it worth it? Especially since my posts can be quite random and lacking in theme or purpose. I found myself wondering about all this yesterday and then had a lovely experience which gave me the deepest sense of confirmation that this blog work was worthwhile.
Yesterday, over breakfast, I decided to read some of my old posts as I mused upon the usefulness of the blog. At random, I came across one about hunchbacks and cheese – it was my second post and has both a photo of a piece of cheese and another one of a gorilla from Mogo zoo which I took when we visited the zoo in January 2022. It all came back to me when I read what I posted but, I really had forgotten that I’d even written this as a post. There was a link to the song, ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ sung by Carman and I clicked on to it and listened. For me, Carman brings one person clearly to memory – a former parishioner named Yvonne.
Yvonne was a dear old saint in our church who had been on the original trio who came to hear me speak back in October 1997. She had been part of the prayer group who ‘prayed me in’ to coming to Bellevue Hill some 25 years ago. I’d been in the church for a year or two and Yvonne gave me a CD of Carmen singing. Maybe it was a birthday or Christmas gift – I don’t even recall. It was kind of her but I was not the slightest bit interested in listening to it. It just wasn’t my style of music at all. I put it aside and it remained unopened for some time. Until one morning in April 2002. I woke on a Monday morning in April and had one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. I won’t go into detail, suffice to say that I found myself in the music room, saw the Carman CD and I put it on play and sat down and listened. It was like ‘the angels were ministering to me’ as I listened to that CD. And so, Carman and Yvonne have had this close connection in my mind.
There I was then, listening quite unplanned to Carman singing yesterday – Tuesday 24th January – as I reflected upon this strange post about hunchbacks and cheese. I mean, what is the deal with writing about hunchbacks?! It’s hardly something which would seem to have much bearing on our daily lives in the 21st century? The post did refer to and so remind me of the film ‘Just Mercy’ and some of the themes in that movie which included the hymn ‘The Old Rugged Cross’. But it was later in the day that the real surprise came for me. Six hours later, I was in my office and I came across a note about Yvonne’s funeral. And to my complete surprise, it turned out that this very day, this Tuesday marked the 10 year anniversary of Yvonne’s funeral which I conducted at St Stephen’s Bellevue Hill – on Tuesday 22nd January.
Co-incidence? Some would say that. But I’ve had so many such ‘co-incidences’ that I’ve come to recognise by faith the Spirit’s presence. I am very aware that this incident doesn’t necessarily resonate with someone else looking in. But that’s because it wasn’t ‘for you’. It was personal ‘for me’. That’s what is so lovely about it. No one else knows about how ‘Yvonne and Carman’ go together for me – I doubt my wife would even be aware. But the Lord does. And what was lovely was to recognise that the Spirit of the Risen Christ chose to use that funny little blog post on hunchbacks as a means of reminding me of his presence in and through the work I’m doing including this blog ‘Riding on the Clouds’.
Encouragement indeed! Yvonne was a rich blessing in her encouragement to me and our church. And, how wonderful it is, that the Spirit has chosen to bring her actions alive again as an encouragement for me as I press on in service of our King as we await his return.
Thank you, Lord Jesus. Thank you for this blog ‘Riding on the Clouds’, and I pray for grace to press on with the next 100, and may what is written be pleasing to you, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.