overestimated, I suppose.
FRIENDLY WARNING...this is longer than my usual 600 to 800 words. Should you choose to stop reading and lodge complaint, do so in the comment box. I may not respond, but I will read it. Not promising I will publish it. You see, that way I will not be accused of deleting or altering it. (tongue-in-cheek TIC) On with my post:
Today I received a very very kind word via automatic subscription from a man I truly respect. He is among many Calvinist ministers and reformed-thinking Christians I know and love. In 2006, a former 5-point Calvinist introduced me to the wild and wooly world of internet blogging. The first time I ever heard of a blog is when I heard of Rosie O'Donnell's diatribes of controversy over gay-marriage. Imagine that! I thought web-sites were for folks with tons and tons of money. I had a computer, albeit an antiquated 1990's model which had been refurbished a couple of times to accomodate web connections with the world beyond my tiny sphere of AOL Instant Messaging and eBay selling. I had no knowledge of Calvinism or their identification with the TULIP. I did not even know my friend of many years ever wore a 5-point Calvinist badge of honor.
Rambling and reminiscing ends. Point begins.
I don't consider myself a "player" in the interworking machinations of SBC politics...or any politics for that matter. I'm a lone voice in a very tiny space. I speak for no one but myself (and my Lord on higher issues). My friend who got me started in blogging did so because he thought I needed to write to purge the pangs of all-consuming grief over the loss of my 33-year-old son. My longstanding friend also knew my heart and how deeply I loved the SBC for which I attribute a great deal of credit for my salvation of mind, body and soul.
I'm going somewhere, I promise.
As I stepped into the baptismal waters of blogging, I discovered that sometimes the water is extremely frigid, and other times uncomfortably boiling. Very rarely did I find any lukewarm or bathtub temperatures in which to wade, splash about, or drop a line into and sit a spell. Rarely were there any nibbles on my line. In fact, one dear Calvinist friend of mine told me after I'd been blogging for several months at the same fishing hole as he, that he'd usually skipped over my words of wit and wisdom. Can you believe? Then one fine day he got tangled in my line. After that, he decided he'd always make an effort to read what I had to say. We became fast friends, moreso because of God, but partially because I came to his defense in a discussion along the SBC watering-holes of life. We were already brother and sister in Christ. I often prayed for him in his ministry and in his studies at SWBTS. He shared concerns on being a young and eager minister in an "established" church. I still mention he and his family in my prayers today, though I haven't chatted with him in a very very long time. He got tired of all the quibbling amongst the SBC brethren and retired from blogging to minister to the sheep in his flock and seek the lost in the fields ripe unto harvest. (I know lots of men like him.)
I met other bloggers along the way in the midst of controversy and muddy waters. Some, I debated ad nauseum. One in particular, seemed to follow me around and snipe my every remark and comment. She had this uncanny way of twisting everything I said to mean something I'd never intended it to mean. She read every single word I wrote and accused me of some rather seedy things. She presupposed every post or devotional I wrote, was written with her in mind. I even had a special file-folder for emails she continued to write. I stopped reading them and answering them, I simply deposited them in the file-folder of fodder. I did my best to converse and communicate, but ya know? Some folks ya just need to avoid...you need to ignore...you need to forgive, pray for, and accept as Jesus would. Then kick the dust from your feet and move on down the road.
I was invited to write for every collaborative blog I was a part of. I did not beg or push my way into those forums. I was usually asked to be a part of them at their conception. As they gained notoriety, and other contributors, my voice and presence was a little more than tolerated for my token view. Most times, things moved along like a barge on the Ohio River...calmly, peacefully, steadily. I tried to ignore the logs in the river and tend to the one in my eye. Whenever I felt welcome in the area in which I wrote, I stayed. And I wrote. I even defended those with whom I did not agree at times. Other times, I remained silent. I met some very gracious and grace-filled folks along the way. I've prayed for many I've never met...and they have prayed for me.
Far more blessings and friends have come my way than warts and toads. Even ones who might count me enemy, I count as brother or sister. I may not see eye to eye with them on subject, style, and substance, but I will not question the probability that we will share space at the heavenly feast someday. The best part about that is, we will each be perfected and complete--one mind--one spirit. In full and perfect fellowship and accord. Won't it be grand?
One time, early into my writing ministry, I found that my antiquated computer could no longer meet the needs of my perpetual pecking. I wrote about it on my blog. It was near the time, as I recall, that my husband had a major heart attack. Simultaneously, our financial situation became so grave that I decided the internet connection and my web-service would have to go. Our budget could not include such luxury.
Out of the blue, an internet friend (who happens to be Calvinist), invited me to lunch in Wichita Falls, Texas. After luxuriously dining at the Olive Garden, she took me to her trunk and presented me with a brand new computer, printer and keyboard. Before I made it home I was penning a letter in my mind to another internet friend (and virtual stranger, who asked to remain anonymous). I'd met her when I encouraged her to hang tough in the SBC, there was a place for her. This same person had already contacted me and was boxing up a refurbished computer for me to have "free of charge". When I told her I was already given another computer, she told me I could let my husband have it for his ministry. God provides, my friends. He really really does. I was privileged and honored to pray for her and her husband when the IMB commissioned them as missionaries abroad.
Within a few days of receiving the Olive Garden computer, a person I did not know sent me his book about his father. In the book was three twenty-dollar bills. I could not believe it. At the time, it was the exact amount I needed to keep my internet connection. Again, God provided.
The same person who sent me his book, asked if he could share my overwhelming financial strain and health problems with others. I said, "Of course." We needed all the prayers we could garner. Within a few weeks, my husband received a letter from a church in the "southern" reaches of Texas. The church informed my husband that they'd been contacted about us, and had a ministry for retired ministers in which they sent a monthly love-gift to them in gratitude for faithfully serving Christ. At that time, they supported over 179 retiree ministers. Again, we were amazed at the generosity of God's people in the SBC. Each month we cash their Macedonian-style gift to us to help us continue the study and writing ministry we each seek to follow as led by God. There is so much more I could write about all this; it would fill a book or two.
Suffice it to say, dear friends...my journey in blogging far exceeds any one post. It goes far beyond the import of any one comment in any particular stream. There are times I'd rather not write. Times I'd rather just ignore the muse which clamors for voice. Times I'd rather not read what I read about our beloved convention. The squabbles. The divisions. The changes.
I am not perfect. I do not pretend to be. I am not wise or intelligent, educated, knowlegable, theologically astute, or righteously pure. I have faults and I admit them. When I wrote a rather innocuous comment on a sister blog, to a particular post, I weighed the impact of its content, the possibility of it annoying some who'd read it and accuse some commenters of trolling and "watch-blogging".
Yet, I also thought that the simplicity in which I wrote it spoke volumes to the substance of the post I'd started reading. Prior to and upon deletion of my comment, I read it several times. It's okay that others found it unacceptable. It's okay that a fellow brother wrote and told me he thought about deleting it before someone else beat him to the punch. It's okay that folks do not agree with me. It's a free country. The first ammendment applies to us all. And, furthermore, the dime in which another pays to keep a website afloat is theirs to choose who comments and who does not. And it is, now, equally okay for me to voice my dissent for which my original utterance found itself cremated forevermore. Below...BEHOLD the comment that seems so offensive it could not be left afloat in the stream:
"Well, Brandon, I didn’t read your post. My mind shut down at the introduction of who Steve is: Director of Acts29 Western Europe. I said to myself, Acts 29? I’m not in Kansas anymore. I checked the link to ascertain I was at “SBC” Voices. Acts-29 is not a voice I am interested in hearing. No offense…".
Testy? yes. Angry? no. Pointed? yes. Elaborating? no. Snarky? a bit. Harsh? hardly. Insulting? unintentional. Unequivocable? Yes. Unclear? No. Succinct? unquesitionably. Fallible? of course. Substantive? debateable. Without merit? Unlikely. Pithy? Most definitely. Consequential? oh yeah. Dishonorable? judge not lest ye be judged.
Confession is in order: Since I posted my comment, and before it's deletion, I finished reading the larger portion of the post on which I'd commented. I concluded that my comment met the same criteria as I'd first written it to mean.
I was a "Southern Baptist" voice. In a Southern Baptist forum of voices where "most" folks find liberty to confess they drink in moderation, rebuke those who abstain, support those who cuss, admonish those who cannot see beyond a flaw, find sport in calling some Georgia boys the "anti-Christ", yet embrace any and all who are anything but traditional Volunteer Fans, accuse brethren (who give invitations, hand out tracts, and sing Just As I Am) of fundamentalism, hypocrisy, legalism, heresy, and plain old ignorance and fuddy duddiness. It's a place where SBC leaders are lauded for calling we who "see things", too, senile old bathrobed troublemakers in the twit-less-sphere. It's where we are mocked for wanting bylaws adhered to, and convention messengers votes to be honored. It's a forum where writers and contributors feel free to reduce the name of "Southern" Baptist to a racial slur and shameful epithet of heretical proportion which must be endured forevermore.
So, unless I moved to "Kansas" in the last series of tornadoes here in Oklahoma, that is where I dared to post an opinion of disinterest. If I wasn't in the right forum for speaking as a Southern Baptist then, someone please send me a pair of "ruby slippers". The yellow-brick road to Oz is more than my old hips can endure. selahV (a.k.a. The Dragon-Lady)