if my people who belong to me will humbly pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14
Wednesday evening, after enjoying a really good meal with a couple of hundred people in the CLC, I made my way up to the modular building where my men’s small group gathers. I considered removing one of the tables so we wouldn’t be spread out too thinly but decided to go over my notes instead.
That turned out to be a good call because over the next ten minutes man after man came through the door to fill every single chair. Bob, David, Ray, Harold, other David, Wayne, Robert, Larry, George, Keith, Eddie, Justin, Dick, Derek.
The human soul, I am increasingly understanding, is a powerful amalgam of mind, spirit, experience, history, and community. Each part is not merely an additional element but a multiplier. Men who chose to open themselves to the experience of spirit and community apply an almost exponential boost to their identity as more complete beings.
Then, put fourteen of them around a table in the context of study, prayer, support, and encouragement, and the spiritual energy in the room is palpable.
Wednesday evenings demonstrate to me why the entry-level discipline of simply showing up is one of the most consistently powerful spiritual practices we can engage. Just the fact of fourteen men sitting around a table with the intention of encouraging one-another sets into motion spiritual experience unattainable in isolation.
But we do more than just show up. Everyone prays, everyone reads from the scriptures, everyone shares something from their heart, everyone listens.
One example is the conversation we had about resurrection. At one point I asked everyone to share a word or two, or a short phrase that comes to mind in response to Easter morning. The best way to describe what happened is to think about watching something being built – like a construction project, a work of art, or a complex spaghetti sauce. One ingredient arrives, then another, then before long a few other elements come on board and gradually they combine to form something else. And the project begins to build, gathering momentum, evolving, changing and growing, becoming so much more than the sum of its parts.
After a while I understood the fact of resurrection and its impact on the men around the table in a new way. Now I see it as something transactional, transformational, visceral, and interactive. Resurrection was described as something that not only is but that requires something of us in response. Resurrection is not a debatable philosophical belief but stands as Truth that simply is, with a deep gravitas, an undeniable impact, and a compelling story to tell.
Once again, I left the church not just encouraged but with my spirit enlarged. There is deep truth here I want to explore more, and a story not only to share but to invite others into.
In love – and because of love – 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.