life and light – sunflowers and grandchildren

In [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. – John 1

10522558_10100298664356532_8589005450285050439_n– (all images in today’s post by Naomi Campbell – captions below) OMG! That’s Oh. My. Goodness. I feel a huge “Grandaddy Letters” post coming on today! Seriously, friends, I can’t help myself. Fact is, I could write a complete novel based on the picture, above. It’s our 33-month old grandson, David, looking out on a field of sunflowers in Connecticut yesterday afternoon.

Our daughter, Naomi, may have the eye of an artist when she frames out a photograph, but more importantly our grandson, David, has the posture, the aspect, of an adventurer – hungry at that – as he looks out over the world of promise and opportunity that is laid out before him.

And David’s tomorrow is “laid out” in a purposeful way. I believe from the bottom of my heart that God sees a child like David, looks into the future, and rolls out the cornucopia of possibility; every turn in the road a gift and a challenge prepared with faithfulness and love. I believe that is how God sees the future for all children – it’s just rare that someone could capture it on film in quite this way.


BROKEN WORLD: But we live in a broken world. Life happens, and life is loaded with sin and with disappointment, and the way forward for many children often looks more like this (left), an image Rebekah and I captured on the street in the “Garbage City” section of Cairo, just a few weeks after David was born. And what is so heartbreaking about this picture is truth of the story that it tells.

Precious few of the children of this world look out over a field of sunflowers; and even here in the U.S., a land defined by opportunity, far too many are raised without reference to promise. I’m not talking about economic opportunity, so much as my concern that the balance of hope has tipped away from the light.

Listen to these words from the beginning of John’s story about Jesus:

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. – John 1:10-13

10375900_10100298697150812_2000430825600305678_nPROMISE! Our opportunity is to live as Children of Light. My hope for my grandchildren is that they will live into that kind of promise.

The real difference being made in Cairo isn’t via any influx of capital, its the work of missions such as “Mother Maggie’s Kindergarten,” where the light is being turned on, one child at a time.

Likewise, the kind of future I pray that my grandchildren live into won’t be found in a nice neighborhood, in cute clothes, abundant toys, or even living in the United States of America. No, they have to find their way to The Light.

I pray for a community, a nation, and then a world, where the balance of hope tips back toward the light. This won’t be accomplished by armies, by economic manipulations, or by imposing “our way of life” on other cultures, but by living with integrity as beloved children of God, and by inviting others to live a different kind of story – to enter the Narrative of Light.

10577156_10100298697140832_2035998597838957021_nFrom his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. – John  1:16-18



The Grandaddy Letters

derekmaul View All →

Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at, 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.

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