One of the most played songs in my iTunes account is "Carbon Ribs" by John Mark McMillan. During only my sophomore year of college, I played the track 3,492 times. Its story of grace brought me hope and offered my broken self a reminder that I can do nothing to earn my place at God's table. It's simply given to me because of who God is and what He's accomplishing. We need those reminders, I think. It's too easy to advert our eyes, our attention, and our hearts towards empty promises of beauty, happiness, and worth. But day in and day out, God's grace calls out to us offering a hope which does not fail in any circumstance or in any moment.
We are creatures and the things we consume shape us. I learn this truth slowly as I notice how I feel when I take in endless scrolling on social media, picture perfect lives on blogs, or too many binges of a Netflix series. I notice the opposite effect when I listen to good music, read words written by those fighting to be faithful to the Father, and spend time in prayer and in my Bible. God has called certain things good, and I want to fill my days with the good things pushing me to look at the Good Thing. I want to encourage you to seek them, too. And this goal is why we're here.
Writing is how many process things as they learn; tying together loose ends and finding lessons weaved into suffering turned joy turned steadfastness. I understand this. I do this. I've written online in some form since 2010, but always about myself. About my adventures. Infused with my pride. Me. Always about me. This is probably why my blogging has never lasted: I get sick of me. It's impossible for me to control my life, to stretch and grow myself into a new creation, or to bring about glory. Considering all things, I'm remarkably uninteresting and lame when left to myself. My worth and purpose come from Christ alone. As McMillan says, "I'm a dead man now with a Ghost who lives within the confines of these carbon ribs." I know Who is worthy of praise and worthy of your attention: the One within my carbon ribs.
There is purpose in how Carbon Ribs is structured. My hope is that - with the exception of some old posts left up - this white webpage will be filled with words that lace the mercy-filled gospel into every day moments. No photographs. No "About Me" full of things I use to quantify my worth and to present myself in a socially-acceptable - even admirable - way. Just stories about the redeeming work of Jesus and new-to-me lessons from Scripture, because I think we need to be bombarded with those more often. We're shaped by that which we consume. As a fellow creature, the least I can do is make sure what I put out into the internet is something worth being shaped by.
When you stop to think about it, the internet is a rather amazing tool for the Great Commission, no? On any given day, three thousand people are able to view a photo and read a caption on my Instagram account. I wonder what Paul might have done with the ability to address three thousand people in an instant. Every time we share with our (online or offline) communities, we are responsible for its effects on others, but also on ourselves. There are brothers and sisters who can share the many details of their lives online without falling victim to idolizing affirmation and to misplaced identities. I've learned I'm not one of them. I'm weak and easily tempted by praise, but it's for my benefit and His glory when I'm able to boast in the power of Christ in my weakness.
So there it is. A Carbon Ribs manifesto. May I boast proudly in the King who offers me a seat at His table.