I have decided to start a blog. I actually made this decision at the beginning of the summer. Since the calendar flipped to August yesterday, I figured it was time to follow through on my decision. What led to this decision? Did I believe that the blogosphere was missing my insights and opinions? Certainly not. This may sound completely selfish, but I am starting this blog for me. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not starting the blog for my own fame, fortune, or ego, but I am starting it for my own joy.
Is this a right motive? The great mathematician Blaise Pascal reasoned, “All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended from different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.” Mathematicians are brilliant, aren't they? If Pascal is correct, then the pursuit of pleasure is not a selfish motive, depending on where that pleasure is found.
If seeking joy is a right motive, how will writing a blog accomplish that end? I believe that true joy is found when I am using the gifts that God has given me to bring glory to His Name. The Apostle Paul encouraged the church in Corinth with the following words: “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:6-8). Last summer, I completed an online course on incorporating writing into math instruction and I created a series of blog posts on the topic for my final project. The facilitator of the course suggested that I should consider publishing the posts and maintaining a blog, a thought that simmered in my mind throughout a busy school year. I thought that I would launch this blog earlier in the summer, but procrastination reared its ugly head and a playful one year old with a propensity for not wanting to go to sleep commandeered many an evening. However, this is it. I am taking the plunge. It is as if Paul is saying to me, “If your gift is writing, then write for the glory of God.”
Even if writing is a gift that I can use to glorify God, why should I demonstrate that gift in a blog? Why not a journal or something more private? A couple months ago, I had the opportunity to share part of my personal testimony at church, something that for a variety of reasons I had not had the opportunity to do for several years. The process of verbally sharing my faith and exhorting others reminded me of the words of Paul to his friend Philemon: “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” (Philemon 6). This circles back to my primary motive of writing this blog in pursuit of joy. When I share my faith, in this case through writing, I have a greater understanding of the grace that God has shown me in my life through Jesus Christ. The redemption, forgiveness, and freedom that I have as a result of Christ’s all sufficient sacrifice on the cross seeps deep into my bones and results in joy unending (My friend Courtney would probably say that I am sounding very Presbyterian now!). Sharing God’s faithfulness through trials gives me courage that his provision and future grace will continue to sustain me no matter what challenges lie ahead. Sharing my faith through writing increases my joy because it ultimately reminds me of the source of my joy. I hope that my writing will point to Christ and not to me, so that while I may be starting this blog for myself, I won’t be glorying in myself. I hope that my reflections are an encouragement to others as well.
As the name of the blog suggests, I will attempt to incorporate my love of the great outdoors into some of my tales. However, I have to admit, it is hard to venture too deeply into the wild with a toddler. I am not planning to hike the Appalachian Trail anytime soon. Nonetheless, there have been a couple camping trips this summer and Baltimore offers the prospect of many urban adventures. Did I mention that I am a middle school teacher? Now that's an adventure! Most of my future posts will be tied to a story, hence the name "Tales from Around the Campfire." The full meaning behind the naming of this blog is the subject of my next post. Feel free to write back with any comments that you have. God Bless! Justin.