“Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity.” – Jeremiah 29:12-14
“Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” – John 4:14
Thursday afternoon, during a break in my writing, I made a cup of coffee and sat on the deck, under the dogwood tree. The dogwood is in full bloom, its blossoms bright in the sunshine. The temperature – which had pushed up to 75-degrees, had just turned and there was a fresh breeze. Scout Labradoodle flopped down at my feet and I looked up into the clear blue sky through the fresh green of all the trees’ new leaves.
All around me, creation sang its joyous song. The cardinal, sitting on the fence; the azaleas, full with color; the tulips, blooming their hearts out; the dogwood, alive with flowers; the breeze, reminding me of the breath of life.
I wanted to capture everything I was experiencing, every emotion, every prayer of thanks, every spiritual certainty, every element of that moment, and translate it such in a way that I could communicate the deep truth of my soul’s contentment and in so doing invite others to experience it too.
But then I realized how deeply personal such moments are, and – in the same way some piece of music will wash over one person in a river of passion and truth while leaving another bone-dry – what moves me may or may not move you.
What matters – more than the dogwood, and the sky, and the birds, and the afternoon breeze – is the open heart we bring to any moment of our lives. I will not meet God on my deck, at the sunrise, or even in the sanctuary at church, unless I first make room, unless – first – my spirit is open.
I had a long conversation… debate… argument… with an editor during the final stages of prepping one of my books. I used the word “open-spirited” and he asked if maybe I had intended to write “open-hearted”, or “free-spirited”, or “open-minded.” “There is no such word as open-spirited” he argued.
“Well, there should be,” I said, “because that is exactly what I intended to write.”
After a lot of back and forth he let it stand. And open-spirited is a word now, because there is precedent in print.
Take it with you!
That is exactly what I took with me out to the deck yesterday afternoon. An open spirit. It is exactly how I am able to document “God-sightings” every single day. Because God is there; God intends for us to be enriched, and inspired (spirit-breathed), and nourished, and encouraged.
It wasn’t about the dogwood tree or the azaleas or the birds or the temperature or the breeze or the spring beauty that not only surrounded me but inhabited my heart, it was about being open-spirited and hungry, and thirsty for God.
It always is. So get hungry, friends, and be open-spirited!
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.