I seems to me that I have attended too many funerals in the recent past.
I have nothing against funerals, in fact I believe they are an extremely important element of life; it’s the death I could do without. Fact is, and in spite of the real assurance I own regarding the promise of the life to come, what’s most difficult about death is the absence of the person who has passed on.
And that’s especially true when the person who died is so young, and so loved, and so talented, and doing so much vitally important work in this broken world; and it’s more difficult still when they made the tragic decision to end their own life.
BROKEN: But I guess that’s the point. This world is broken; and it’s broken so severely that some of the dysfunctions are systemic; and we are human. This world is desperate to hear the truth about the Gospel of Love… and yet those of us who carry the message of hope are flawed too, and weak, and we struggle, and sometimes we forget (as pastor Tim said in a recent message) to “First put on your own oxygen mask before helping those around you.”
And right now it’s important that we breathe, deeply, and drink deeply from the water of the river of life.
God is our refuge and strength,
a help always near in times of great trouble.
That’s why we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart,
when the mountains crumble into the center of the sea,
when its waters roar and rage,
when the mountains shake because of its surging waves.
There is a river whose streams gladden God’s city,
the holiest dwelling of the Most High.
God is in that city. It will never crumble.
God will help it when morning dawns.
Nations roar; kingdoms crumble.
God utters his voice; the earth melts.
The Lord of heavenly forces is with us!
The God of Jacob is our place of safety.
Come, see the Lord’s deeds,
what devastation he has imposed on the earth—
bringing wars to an end in every corner of the world,
breaking the bow and shattering the spear,
burning chariots with fire.
“That’s enough! Now know that I am God!
I am exalted among all nations; I am exalted throughout the world!
The Lord of heavenly forces is with us!
The God of Jacob is our place of safety. (Psalm 46)
- Mountains aren’t supposed to fall into the sea. But they do, and God is with us.
- God isn’t our source for tidy answers, but our source of strength; and God is with us.
- Words fail us, but love never does; and God is with us.
- There is a river, and Jesus offers, “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4)
COURAGE: There’s one more thought that’s been in my brain these past couple of days. I’m thinking that we need courage to be “Living Witnesses to the Gospel of Love.” We need courage, and we need a lot of strength to go with it. I’ve been thinking that righteousness – or holiness – is the quality that brings us strength; and I’ve been thinking that it’s sin that makes cowards of us all.
If we are to have the strength to be earth-shaking disciples of Jesus, then our courage needs to be fueled by holiness. And we only get a step or so down that road by spending more time in the presence of Jesus.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace,” Jesus said. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart (take courage!)! I have overcome the world.”(John 16)
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.