Our Smith Mountain Lake retreat had got off to a good start with Friday’s opening session. Then, Saturday morning and after an encouraging beginning to the day, I realized there was simply too much content scheduled between breakfast and lunch.
So I ditched one entire session, shared a simple story about the day I met God on the top of Mt. Sinai, and then sent everyone out into the beautiful morning air with the assignment to “be on the lookout for God.”
A couple of the guys hit one of the trails, one made the curious decision to circle the parking lot a number of times, another found a quiet location to meditate on The Beatitudes, and several wandered down toward the lake.
Annoying Noise at the Lake:
I was one of the lake wanderers. I found an Adirondack chair overlooking the water and tried to quiet my mind. Almost immediately a guy on the other side of the water got his chainsaw going and proceeded to run the thing – on and off – pretty much the entire time like some uber-annoying supersized mosquito.
I was not a happy camper.
Darned chainsaw guy, I muttered to myself. Why does he have to ruin my prayer time and mess up my meditation? How am I expected to come back with any kind of a God-sighting to share after this?
Then it hit me in a flash. Epiphany. Insight. Spiritual moment. God sighting. All of a sudden the message was clear. “It’s the people, Derek. Nature is beautiful and the lake is pretty, but if you want to see God you have to open your eyes to the people.” God was talking about Ray, Charlie, Paul, Bill, Michael, Andrew, Joshua, Tom, Bob… Even – maybe especially – chainsaw guy.
What this set in me was a deeper commitment, or maybe intention, to see people in all places and all circumstances as living representations of the reality of God. God sightings all day and every day and God opportunities too, as I interact with these incarnational evidences of the God I say I love.
Sharing What We Learned:
So we arrived back in the conference room, dribbling in, one incarnation at a time. The last came in together, Charlie and Joshua. Charlie had seen Joshua reading from his Bible so he approached and they shared together for a long time.
And the Spirit said to [Charlie], “Go over and join this chariot.” So [Charlie] approached and heard [Joshua] reading and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And [Joshua] invited [Charlie] to come up and sit with him.” – Acts 8:30-31
Again, it was in the context of community where another God sighting played out. God speaking most clearly when we share our deepest selves with one another. God’s being, revealed in the other; the God light animating each one of us.
Open eyes; open minds; open hearts; open spirits. Listening – 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.