The other day I spent some time updating my “profile” on some site that carries my work. It’s hard to keep everything current, and I noticed this particular bio still featured our residency as Florida, Andrew and Alicia as living in Italy, Naomi and Craig in Connecticut, and no sign of my latest book, Pilgrim in Progress.
My intention was to compose a multi-use template, something I can drop in anywhere – pre-packaged – as the need arises. But then I realize that my story is always in flux, and there really is no “cut-and-dried,” “one-size-fits-all” Derek. And the understanding gives me pause.
I was filling out the section on, “interests” when it hit me. Where do I focus my attention? Does the way I spend my time define who I am? Or do my aspirations – realized or otherwise – tell a story that’s more true? Do we spend a lifetime discovering who we really are… or do we spend all these decades honing and fine-tuning what is true? Is it possible to write anything at all that tells the real story?
NATURE vs NURTURE: I guess all I’m doing here is thinking about the classic “nature versus nurture” puzzle. But at the same time I believe “who we are” is a far more complex idea. We are flesh and blood people, living in a most marvelous world; yet we are also spiritual beings, and I’m not sure if that part of our nature is written into our DNA, or if it involves a coding beyond the reach of mortality to uncover?
Jesus alluded to this mystery many times, and this morning I found myself musing over his words from Matthew, when the legalists tried to trip him up over “one man, one woman” and marriage: Jesus said, “Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven…” – Mark 12:18-27
Or, “You’re asking the wrong questions! We will move from this life into eternity, yes, but there are truths and understandings that remain a mystery. We read the scriptures, yet we try to fit them into our constricted vision; we believe in God, but we don’t begin to grasp God’s sovereignty, God’s power, or the reach of God’s love.”
Look at the photograph I pasted in, above. It’s the same view I have looked at a dozen times a day for the past 29 months; yet I have never seen it that way before yesterday evening; not remotely. Is it the same? Is it just my viewpoint that has changed? How do we measure immutability? What if “fixed points” are only fixed points in our limited understanding?
But I digress from the original few paragraphs, and the “who am I” question – or maybe not! I am the same person who has been kicking around now for almost six decades. But I am still learning who that is, and I am also learning to tip the balance of the equation more toward my spiritual self, and so I am learning more about who I am by spending more and more time in the presence of my Creator.
Jesus is not only teaching me who I can be, in him, he’s also teaching me who I already am – from the foundations if time – and into the limitless possibilities of eternity.
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.