Since we work together with him, we are also begging you not to receive the grace of God in vain. He says, I listened to you at the right time, and I helped you on the day of salvation. Look, now is the right time! Look, now is the day of salvation! – 2 Corinthians 6:1-2
- The only way to live is forward!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
It’s Monday morning, January 1, 2018. New Year. Tabula rasa. Blank Slate. Clear the decks. Fresh start.
No matter how you express it, today presents a unique opportunity – especially for those who embrace the simple but powerful truth that the only way to live is forward.
This was especially clear to me Sunday morning, when I arrived at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church for worship. I expected the traditionally small “week-after-Christmas” crowd, but – coming in off the highway – all I could see was this steady stream of people pouring into the church.
The lobby was abuzz with chatter, hugs, greetings, handshakes and blessings. Then, in the sanctuary, the pews were full like it was Christmas Eve all over again.
It was as if the church was saying, collectively, “We don’t care what people traditionally do the week after Christmas – we’re coming to church, we’re wrapping up 2017 in the context of following Jesus!”
For me, the simple evidence of a full church on a supposed “off Sunday” serves as a reminder that each new day (week, month, year) stands alone as a blank page upon which we can write any new story, without regard to history, or experience, or busyness, or tradition, or expectation.
Today is not governed by yesterday, today (and tomorrow, and all of 2018) is under the jurisdiction of promise, of hope, of faith, and of belief.
Today is not governed by yesterday, today – and tomorrow – is under the jurisdiction of promise, of hope, of faith, and of belief.
The photograph (me with Rebekah) was taken around 2:00 yesterday afternoon. We were enjoying brunch with my Sunday morning “Practical Christianity” class at the home of our gracious and generous friends, Bernie and Cynthia Hardy.
The goal of the Practical Christianity class is to learn about, to talk about, and then to practice the intersection between faith in Jesus and real-life – in the day-to-day world where we all spend the balance of each week.
This is the message that I want us to embrace as we turn this particular page into this particular new beginning. I want us to remember, and then to act on, the truth that what happens today (and tomorrow, and next week, and throughout 2018) is not inevitable, is not a function of tradition, is not out of our hands, is not any kind of a fait accompli... but – instead – the next moment of our life can be (must be) a function of our response to the constant invitation that is the Good News of Jesus!
Jesus is an invitation. Jesus is my invitation. Jesus is your invitation – our invitation. This is the filter through which I want to pour my thinking, and writing, and speaking during 2018. But an invitation, by definition, depends on a response.
What it our response going to be? I pray it will be like the response of the people who filled up the sanctuary at church Sunday morning. What happened – or didn’t happen – in the past is of no consequence. Now it is today. Now is the time. This is the moment. This is your moment! This is our time!
“Look! Now is the right time. Look! Now is the day of salvation!”
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.