Why am I writing this blog? I hope it is because the heart of God has touched my heart and I write with a passion which comes from Him. Or is it just one big ego-trip? Am I just motivated by a desire to make myself heard in a world with so many confusing voices?
Yesterday, I asked myself, “Why do I bother?” I spend about one day every week, researching material for my blog, and then committing it to the internet. Would it be better if I spent the time raising funds for world needs? Should I just relax, enjoy semi-retirement and leave the campaigning to others?
I started blogging in 2012, when I was in Sri Lanka. I received a lot of encouragement from friends and contacts and have been written 95 articles since: about every week. I have recently received some knocks and have to admit that I now feel somewhat discouraged. But is this signal that I should stop, or is it a difficulty to be fought and overcome? I am inclined to believe the latter.
I currently have 99 followers on WordPress, and the system sends an email to each of these ‘followers’ every time I publish a new entry. I also have a mailing list of 200 friends and contacts and I email them with a snippet of my post with a link to my published article. Unfortunately many of these emails do not seem to reach the intended person. The statistics show that only about 25% of these emails are actually read, There are various reasons for this:
- People change their email addresses quite often.
- The email address we have is not necessarily the main email address.
- We all get so many emails that we do have the time to read them all.
- Emails get stuck in the “junk mail” folder by over-protective email providers or programs.
WordPress statistics tell me that there have been 14,000 ‘hits’ on my blog, about 175 per week. What is a ‘hit’? A hit is an access to a single post. It does not, of course, indicate that an individual has actually read what I have written! How do these ‘hits’ originate?
- Links on emails that WordPress sends, or Mailchimp sends for me.
- Status updates on my Facebook to friends.
- Posts on my Facebook page: “Compassion and Justice”
- Shares on Facebook by blog readers.
- Google and other search engines. (Typing “RESULTS OF POVERTY” into Google have produced 3200 hits!)
Touching the heart of God
So let’s come back to the question: is it all worth it? Putting discouragement to the side, I really do believe that I have touched the heart of God. Or rather, that the heart of God has touched my heart. The words “compassion” and “justice” are two of the main characteristics of God. Billions of people throughout the world, oppressed by poverty, discrimination, disease and suffering – physical, emotional and spiritual are crying out for justice and love.
As a human being, I cannot comprehend how God can cope with all the situations that he sees. But I have to believe that because he is God, his ways are much greater than mine, and he is big enough to care about every single human being that has ever lived on this earth.
God does not align himself to any particular political party, religion, economic system or nation. But he does hate injustice and asks us to seek justice and righteousness in our dealings with our fellow-man. I am sure that at times I have upset some people who do not share my passion on certain issues. But although at times my views may coincide with a particular political view-point, I have no political agenda other than to see the Kingdom of God established here and now, among us in this world.
People sometimes ask, “Why does God allow so much suffering in the world?” Books have been written on this subject, and we have argued among ourselves seeking an answer, but I believe God would ask us the same question, “Why do YOU allow so much suffering in the world?” Most, arguably all, suffering in the world is man-made.
So what can I do? I am only one man and not a great verbal orator. Will I let discouragement prevent me from speaking out, in written form, what I feel passionate about?
I do not claim to have “heard” specific words from God, but I do know that he has touched my heart with his heart and I can only attempt to put this into words, which often seem so inadequate. I seek to interpret this touching of emotions and spirit into words which I trust is what he wants to say. Sometimes I may get it wrong, but sometimes get it right in a way that scares me!
So, as you my friends read items I have posted to my blog, don’t just read the words but listen to my heart. And, if I have been true to the heart of God, listen to, and feel the heart of God who loves justice and compassion.
- Personal Crossroads (georgedowdell.org)
6 thoughts on “Back to the Crossroads”
Hi George I was saddened to read that you’ve been feeling discouraged. I guess that’s probably the fault of people, like me, who read, enjoy and learn from what you write but so rarely bother to let you know how much we appreciate and, more often than not agree with, what you have to say. Don’t give up George; keep writing so that we can keep reading and being encouraged and provoked. It’s all good stuff.
Dear George – your blog is a necessity to keep us from looking the other way David Hannan
Thank you George for sharing your heart. You are coming through. I confess I do not read every blog but many I do and find them thought provoking and helpful. Thank you. Love in Jesus, Clive Jones (Via email)
George, a few thoughts …..
1. I subscribe to your blog through a desktop feed-reader (Vienna), so I won’t appear on any WordPress or email subscribe listing (I think). So there may be others like that to boost your numbers.
2. If you blog once a week, and you get 175 hits per week, that’s 175 people who read each post. If you were a minister in a church of 175, I think you would think that was a reasonable weekly audience to be influencing.
3. On the other hand, not everyone who visits reads right through. I subscribe to about 40 blogs, so I tend to check out the topic, skim read a few paragraphs in my feed reader, and then decide whether I will read the post fully or not – and I think that behaviour is typical on the web. There are so many blogs out there, we each have to be selective in what we read.
4. I find on my two bogs that different topics get different degrees of attention. Unfortunately, it is the more contentious topics that people read more, so that “Rob Bell”, “atheism”, “hell”, “Jesus and history” or “inerrancy” in the titles will likely draw more readers than “social justice”, “slavery”, “Fair Trade”, “poverty” or “climate change”. So while your writing is on very worthy topics, people sadly often want something more titillating, and not something that may make them feel guilty.
5. I go through times of doubt about my blogging too. I usually then reconsider what goals I have for the blogs, and whether I am writing in the best way to achieve those goals. Is your goal to educate people about poverty and justice, or to motivate them to action, or …. ? If to educate, then you will want to provide new and interesting (to them) information. If to motivate, it will be less information and more stories of action (I guess).
In either case, keeping posts within certain lengths will make it less likely that people will give up before getting to the end – splitting some posts in two may help this. Lots of subheadings (every couple of paragraphs) can also help – they give people something to re-focus on when their minds wander, and give an indication of where the post is going. Photos and anecdotal stories are also good.
6. In the end, I cannot advise on whether you should or shouldn’t be blogging. I blog because (1) I think I can communicate with far more people that way than I can in person, (2) it helps me read and research topics of interest, and (3) it is a hobby I can pursue in the evenings instead of watching TV, but I cannot say what would be applicable to you.
But I believe you have done some very good work, and have some good things to share. Whether you should keep on sharing them in this way is surely a matter for you to pray about and consider from time to time. I hope those thoughts help somehow.
Hi George. Can I echo Paul’s exhortation to keep writing. I am challenged and inspired by what you write and I dispute your comment that you are not a great verbal orator! Thank you for
the time and effort that you invest in sharing God’s thoughts and heart with us.
Dear George (and Chris)…
You already know what I think of you so keep writing. When you write (speak) I hear it as from one who has walked the walk, not just talked the talk as so many others of us do.
You say you are not a great orator but I know plenty who speak eloquently whose voice is not as powerful as yours.
Your life speaks more than some of their words so keep writing (talking). You have an authentic voice validated by decades of active love, care, compassion and justice.
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