I started this blog around one big idea – the thought that you and I need help navigating the difficult terrain of life, and that a narrative penned long ago might help.
I called it The New Exodus because our journey is not very different than the journey a seemingly forgotten, often misunderstood, and perpetually persecuted people took long ago.
Recently, I have been too busy to remember this original desire. What is interesting is that this is exactly what I write about so often – that the original, shimmering desire for which we’ve been made is often clouded by lesser desires and preoccupations. And so, I’ve found myself (as I often write about) in a wilderness – learning my lesson the hard way.
A few months ago I tweeted that I was too busy to write. In recent months, I have lost that creative edge writers need to stay connected to themselves and make an impact on others. Strangely, this wilderness has not cost me distance with God. I have found the Daily Office a constant companion, and praying hasn’t been hard. But writing has.
Writing is certainly more public, and when I moved to San Francisco I sensed an opportunity to write more and influence more. Good friends encouraged me to blog. And then came Twitter. I was grateful to get followers, but followed many others to play the “get yourself followers” game. I like Twitter. It’s a helpful venue to communicate. But in past months I’ve stopped following hundreds of people. And consequently, I have lost followers. And I’m glad. There are a number of people who I hope to communicate with. The thought that 500 people, or even a thousand, pay attention is crazy. I do hope to influence. But I hope that the quality of what I say might emerge as more valuable than the games we play to gain a following.
That said, I’ve been most happy when I am writing on the New Exodus theme. I am in discussions about a book being published, and that is good…though what is most important to me is not that this material finds its way on to paper. What I have noticed over the years is that the same God who rescued the Israelites long ago still rescues. And He still navigates people through difficult wildernesses. What means more to me than anything is walking alongside those people. I’m glad when people are impacted by what I write. But the most extraordinary moments happen behind closed doors, and are protected by a confidentiality that is not merely law, but a sacred trust between fellow pilgrims.
There is a strong pull in a great urban center like San Francisco to be the best of the best of the best. It is a competitive climate full of Harvard, Stanford, and Yale graduates. There are young entrepreneurs and aging venture capitalists, and many in-between. Many people here respect me because I have a Ph.D. But credibility is something much deeper, and much more illusive.
It’s curious to me that I can pray well right now, but that I am struggling to write. I suspect this is because my real self can show up before God, but my false self is tempted to show up in a blog. This New Exodus material has always grounded me, though. When I write on it, it is difficult to be anyone other than me. All this 40 at 40 blog-business feels like an imposter showing up, trying to write something impressive. It’s an attempt to keep writing when, truth be told, I’m creatively dull right now.
So, here’s my promise: I am going to attempt to write when I have something that is meaningful to write. Most likely, I’ll continue to explore the New Exodus material, because it is where my heart is. I’m convinced that the cruciform journey of the New Exodus is the one we all need to be on…and convinced there is much in me, in the coming days, that needs to be crucified in the wilderness.
I’m going to seek space. I was re-reading Iain Matthew’s fantastic work The Impact of God recently and was reminded of the importance of space. The world lives for achievement. And so we busy ourselves to the point where we lose ourselves, wondering where we started or why we even began the journey.
And so, I’ve remembered. This is where I began. The New Exodus. I’m grateful to God for the wilderness of creative dullness, and perhaps even for a season of extraordinary busyness. Emerging from the slumber of soul, I sense that something new is coming. Every writer waits for this moment. The story tells itself.
I’ll let you know what I hear…