One of the first questions often posed in an introductory philosophy class is the one about a tree falling in a forest, and if there is no one present to hear it fall, did it really make any noise. You might check out Wikipedia’s article on the subject—the range of answers is quite fascinating. Unfortunately, all of them tend to be very human-centered (and rather arrogantly so at that), in which all the focus is on the matter of our apprehending, as if reality exists only in the presence of human beings. We really do tend to believe that the world exists only for our sake and revolves entirely around us.
Still, I found myself thinking about that old philosophical question as I sat down to write my next addition to my blog. While I avoided rash resolutions to write a daily contribution, and instead hedged a bit by saying I hoped to write on a “regular” basis, nonetheless, I began penning the fourth in four days. That’s when the tree falling in the forest question struck me: if someone writes a column and no one reads it, did it make any noise, have any impact or did it really ever exist?
Or to ask a different and more pertinent question: why bother? Why bother writing what no one may ever read? Why bother giving time and energy to writing if no one in the congregation has any interest in my reflections? Is it just ego on my part to believe I have something worthwhile or insightful to say above and beyond Sunday morning sermons or mid-week teaching events? Is a pastor’s blog just a thinly veiled attempt to voice opinion on subjects that might not be sermon-appropriate? Or is it something else that prompts the exercise and effort?
Do you remember the old gospel song, “It’s not my brother nor my sister, but it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer?” I long ago came to understand that on Sunday mornings, I am preaching essentially to an audience of one—myself, and if others find it helpful to eavesdrop, then praise be to God. I’m the sinner in need of hearing Good News of heaven’s mercy and forgiveness. I’m the prodigal needing to be told that the Holy Lord of all has come running down the road towards me with his arms spread wide with welcome. I’m the saint struggling to learn what saintliness really looks like. I’m the redeemed of the Lord who has yet to perfect the art of living in that cross-won freedom. I’m the beloved of Christ who has only begun to glimpse and grasp hold of the wonder, joy and power that could be mine if I really dared to let go of control and let the Holy Spirit have its way with me.
So perhaps as with preaching, so it may also be with this column—it is part of my ongoing journey to make real for myself the experience of surrendering to God and inviting his grace to take hold of my soul and bring me ever more fully alive in Christ. Part of the purpose of this blog is to journal out my wonder as I continually discover more of the sovereignty and goodness and loveliness of Jesus. If the value of the writing is for me alone and as an act of praise to my Lord, that is sufficient. And if anyone finds blessing in the reading, that becomes sheer bonus to God’s glory.