The Limited Virtue of Sharing

8 03 2008

My brief hiatus is now over, and its good to be back in the land of blogosphere. Something has been conspicious by its absence on the blog over the past month, and I thought it best to explain why that is. At the beginning of the year I took up the Timmy Brister challenge, and began to post on it with great gusto and enthusiasm. This came particularly easily as Sibbes was short and I was off on holiday – the contents of that short series can be found here. Since then, however, I’ve managed to post only one entry on Flavel (February’s author) and nothing on Watson (this month’s author). This has partly been because of a few external contingencies on my time, but also because of a growing conviction about how I ought to treat the challenge through the year. An illustration might help me to express what I mean.

I love mountains. I can think of no finer way to spend a day off than going into the Mournes, and walking among some of Ulster’s most beautiful scenery. When I first began to go to the Mournes regularly with a friend, I used to bring my camera. If there was an outstanding view, or a particularly challenging walk that we had conquered, out would come the camera, and I would try to capture the moment. The result was always disappointing in two ways. Firstly, I spoiled the immediacy of enjoying the mountains by worrying about getting my camera – I was so busy capturing the scene that I was less than captivated by it. Secondly, when I returned home the pictures never matched the grandeur of the landscape as taken in by the five senses. While my family would be impressed by the pictures, they were not awe-inspired by the experience.

This is how I feel about the Puritan challenge.

In these authors, so carefully chosen by Timmy Brister, I am enjoying food for my soul unlike anything else I have ever read. I am literally finding that my heart is soaring with some of the truths outlined, and then is promptly being broken by my own sense of sin and smallness. These were men who knew their God, and knew God’s people; men who brought God’s Word home with force, conviction, clarity, and gravity. As such sitting with a highlighter and marking out sections which might be good for a blog series feels a little like fumbling in my rucksack for a camera, while the sun sinks behind a hill. My decision is to enjoy the view, and let God speak to me in the way He wants through these works, without marring the majesty of what I am learning by constantly being concerned about passing it on. My thoughts on these works are at best a monochrome study in the multicoloured glory of God’s grace anyway.

Sharing is of limited virtue. I may from time to time include a quote here and there on the blog from the Puritans, but otherwise I think I’m going to be selfish with the rest of the reading challenge. In abandoning the work of putting my experiences into words I’m asking that God would build the lessons I’m learning into real results in my heart, life, and walk with Him.

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