I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.Ecclesiastes 3:10-11
Today this “memory” photo popped up on my Facebook feed. It’s from 2011. And, while David’s actual birthday was a few days ago this marks the moment Rebekah got to meet our first grandchild.
This is one of those pivotal markers where – in a heartbeat – everything shifts and there is a new center of gravity moving forward. Life without grandchildren… Life with grandchildren.
These readjustments happen, and we expect them, throughout our lives. We leave home, we graduate from college, we marry, we have that first child, then there’s the empty nest; we relocate, we become grandparents, we bury a parent; we change careers, we retire, we lose a spouse… These are all pivotal times where everything must be recalibrated and nothing is ever the same.
Life breathes, in and out, around change:
But these are in a sense anticipated. They are all – however difficult or wonderful – evidences of the natural rhythms of life, and because of that we (kind of) know what to do and, most importantly, we have social mechanisms in place that support and guide us.
But here, in the middle (and possibly on the cusp of a new resurgence) of this global crisis it is those social mechanisms we depend on that have been disrupted, removed, compromised, dismantled, or recalibrated. We have been effectively “distanced” from the exact safety nets that evolved over centuries to keep us centered and sane.
This shift of gravity is, in a very real sense, more toxic than COVID.
The plot – and the solution:
Unity does not require uniformity. When we allow dark forces to turn us against each other, all of America loses!– Derek Maul
What I’m getting at is that we need to understand what ails us and address the need, rather than lashing out indiscriminately. Instead of finger-pointing and blame what we must do now is to reengage the support systems that have helped people cope with gravity-shifting events for literally centuries. Even if we have never participated before, this is the exact moment to begin a relationship with a community built around faith – built on and around what has substance and real meaning.
If COVID was a cynical plot by “Forces of Evil” to turn humankind against itself, to isolate people from each other, to polarize the “United” States into dangerous disunity, and to stop people from gathering to encourage one another to follow the ways of Jesus – then it could not have been better conceived.
- What we tend to forget, however, is that none of this can happen without our permission.
By that I mean the following:
- We are not required to respond to hostility with hostility;
- we are only isolated if we choose to remain so;
- polarization is thwarted via active listening;
- if we actively participate in our faith community then we are encouraging one another and we are not alone;
- so it looks like the solution to such cynical and destructive intent is also well conceived.
The solution, the antidote to such a potentially toxic scenario, is to stop demanding we “go back” and (instead) to proactively engage what it means to live forward as intentional followers of the Living Way of Jesus, and disciples of the Prince of Peace.
All that from one photo from 2011? Well, yes. That is how God speaks into my thoughts, my writing, my prayers, and my active response to Christ’s direction for my life.
May it be the way forward for enough of us to make the critical difference. Lord knows we need it – 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.