Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord! Be happy in your hope… – Romans 12:9-12
It’s been three days since my Friday post, and I could share many impressions from how my life as a disciple has made a difference with everything I’ve been involved with, from the poignant beauty of a memorial service, to fresh snowfall here in the mountains, to Facetime fun with the grandchildren vacationing in Disney.
If you missed my post about our friend Malanie’s passing, then it’s something you’ll want to go back to later – Death of a Beautiful Soul – there is a lot there, especially if the idea of the end of life is something you or someone you know is struggling to understand.
So my first reflection from the weekend begins with a sanctuary full with friends and family who stood as a collective witness to the undeniable fact that love and light and promise are more compelling, more durable, and more real than death, and defeat, and disappointment.
One speaker began her eulogy by saying that our culture selects and celebrates exactly the wrong people as its heroes. The real heroes are those who live God’s love like it is second nature (read Romans 12:9-21). Or, as Rebekah pointed out in her message, these are not things we “do” in order to try and look holy, these constitute evidence that we live out of an authentic relationship with God.
Vision and Direction:
After the service, Rebekah and I drove deep into the Appalachian Mountains to begin a week of reflection and study. We’re located high up a steep, one-lane, switchback road near West Jefferson. By Sunday morning we were snowed in, so I’m grateful I packed the car with so much food, and that we decided to bring the 4-wheel-drive.
The point of our week away is to enjoy a retreat, detach from the typical day-to-day, immerse ourselves in God’s good word, and seek guidance in terms of our creative direction for the year; Rebekah in terms of vision, worship planning, and sermon preparation; me in terms of where this new novel is going to lead me.
In a world where so much is said, pronounced, tweeted, and written in stone within milliseconds of the first word or thought being uttered, I believe the idea of deliberate, contemplative, prayerful consideration – and reassessment, and rethinking, and editing, and seeking God – is an idea whose time has come… or at least ought to come!
Invest in What Really Matters:
Finally, this image from Disney in Orlando. Our grandchildren (and their parents) had a retreat of their own last week. They detached from work, and school, and stress – and everything else that so easily distracts from what really matters – and they invested in one-another as a family.
I believe we need to be more careful when it comes to what we invest in. Dogma? Our own opinion? Divisive politics? Who is right and who is wrong? Material acquisitions? Stuff we can’t really afford? There is so much that commands our attention and our resources, and so little of it has any eternal value.
Back to the “America celebrates the wrong heroes” idea. How about we invest in – as Jesus put it – priorities that moth and rust do not corrupt!
Invest in relationships more than our selfish interests; invest in contemplation more than condemnation; invest in God rather than material things; invest in learning ahead of insisting we don’t need to learn; invest in others more than ourselves; invest in growing as faithful followers of the Living Way….
Check back in with me Wednesday. We’ll see where all this contemplation leads!
– Peace, and more 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.