Yesterday when I hurried away from the Tampa Convention Center to grab my car and head home, I was surprised to find a rainy afternoon waiting for me in downtown Tampa. The cooling balm of the fresh shower seemed very appropriate in light of the keynote message I’d just covered for the Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church… but more about that in another post.
I was hurrying home so we could all could head out again for Andrew’s birthday dinner. The actual day isn’t until the 20th, but he’ll be long gone back to Italy by then and we wanted to take him somewhere special while we can.
So he chose the Columbia in Ybor City. Great choice! Andrew said he wanted enjoy a dining experience that could not be replicated anywhere other than Tampa. The Columbia is Cuban; it’s Spanish; it’s American; it’s Cuban/Spanish-American; it really is one of Tampa’s signature restaurants. The majority of eateries are cookie-cutter and interchangeable, indistinguishable from so many others that pop up in every town. But not this one; the Columbia is only comparable to itself.
We sat in the old courtyard. There was no mistaking where we are. Nothing else looks like it; nothing else tastes like it. Nothing else comes close. And I couldn’t help but think about what might be “signature” about my life. Is there anything about “Derek Maul” that couldn’t be replicated?
I understand that my DNA comprises a unique imprint. There really is no other human being like me. But that surety is only in terms of biology. Such a stamp of individuality is only a possibility, a potentiality. There is no predetermination that will either require or guarentee that I’ll neccesarily deliver.
But that’s the goal. Every day. It has to be.
Not in some frenetic “I’m under pressure” sense. No, the goal of claiming God’s design for my life, and living that possibility to capacity, has more to do with a response of love than the needle of guilt. Living into God’s signature has everything to do with allowing that kind of love to fill me up and then flow out, generously, into the world.
We already are unforgettable. God knows us and God loves us that way. Our task is to live into the fact of it.
Peace – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.