Tuesday, September 16, 2014
“O Lord, who lends me life; lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.” — William Shakespeare
I have now written well over 2,000 blog posts. Divided by 365 days in a year and that means that I have been doing this for over five and a half years now. It’s really closer to six because there were times when I was in the hospital or traveling and couldn’t post or we had no internet and power at the same time. Otherwise, I have striven to write one every day with at least one picture. Some of the ones I thought were the best written and most profound got the fewest readers, and some of the ones I did in a hurry because I was feeling bad or the power was about to fail that got the most readers of all. The smallest readership of any one blog was 18. The most was 537, and for the last five months, the average has been around 250 per day. Since I view the readership as if it were a congregation in a church, anything over twenty just thrills my heart. I started preaching in a little place called Tuck’s Chapel UMC near Rogers, Arkansas, with a membership of twelve and an average attendance of about eight. My mom and dad and other family members came one Sunday and doubled the congregation. Most of the churches to which I was appointed had Sunday attendance around twenty to thirty but by the time I left each one, it had climbed to over a hundred or more. One church had to add a second service and I thought I had hit the big time, but it is not about numbers and never will be. I have preached to over 1,500 at one service in Boston and many Sundays in Fayetteville, the total of three services came to over 1,000. But here’s the problem with numbers—they mean nothing. If God had only one person He wanted to touch that Sunday, then one was a quorum. What amazes me is that so many people read the blog every single day, and some worry about me if it isn’t there. This is a very long and preacherly way to getting around to why I am writing this today. It is to say thank you to each and every one of you who has taken the time to read what I have written. The total page visits for all the years I’ve been writing is over 91,000, but if only one person is lifted a bit, inspired a bit, hears God speaking through my inadequate voice, feels comfort, gains strength, or is touched in any way, then all the posts and all the years are more than justified. I was a United Methodist Pastor for too long to pretend I don’t check the numbers—I do, every day. I have readers in many countries—the countries and numbers for just this last week were: United States 1,073; Tanzania 120; France 93; Germany 41; United Kingdom 29; Australia 25; Ukraine 14; Netherlands 12; Poland 9; and Russia 8. But my thanks are for the single individuals who find something good in perhaps an unusual place—a blog from a small mission in Tanzania. It also helps my family in the U.S. to know what we are doing and for whom, as well as those who contribute to the support of our mission. Our dog, Benjy, knows how to express his thanks quite well with a wagging tail, a smile, and a need to jump up on me to let me know he’s happy I am there. Well, when I see that even one person has read the blog, that tail of mine is wagging and I want to lick a face till I’m pushed away. Once, when the number of daily readers dropped to around twenty, I was tempted to quit (this was about five years ago) and I asked people to write if they wanted me to continue. More people wrote voting for the daily blog to continue than had been reading it, but it was just one woman’s response that has kept me writing all these years and will continue to keep these things coming. She wrote that without the blog every morning, she didn’t know how she would get through her day. It was that important. She didn’t sign her comment, so I still don’t know her name. All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you, to each of you, because at my age and in my physical stage of ability to serve God, the blog is the one thing that keeps me going no matter how down I am because it is something I can do, something I can give. You see, you help me, comfort me, encourage me, give me strength, keep me answering my call just by reading the few words I write every day. Sometimes, I know it is not the words but the picture that does the preaching or teaching or touching, or maybe the quote, or maybe because I love to use quotes from Maya Angelou, Winnie-the-Pooh, Nelson Mandela, and many writers from centuries past. Ultimately, no matter how much we serve others here, it is you who thank me the most just by spending a few minutes reading my humble scribbles. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are playing an important role in our mission and in my life. Ahsante sana, or Thank You Very Much as they say here. I only know the names of a few who consistently read the blog, yet there are hundreds I have never met and whose names I will never know, but my thanks are still heartfelt and sincere whoever you are and wherever you are. You give me the strength to go on when no one else can. You are special and precious, and I thank you again in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. If I could hug you I would. Just keep the image of the happy puppy in mind (see picture at right), and you’ve got how happy I am here that you are there.