But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:21-23
Here we go, friends, it’s finally time to take a look back at 2020. This challenging year is drawing to a close and it’s time to share our story.
Of course, it’s been an unusual year for everyone, so I’m going to tackle this post in a different way. I’m answering questions “interview style”, like the profiles I used to write for The Tampa Tribune.
- You’ve been married 41 years now; how does 2020 rate? Every year stands on its own. Besides, at more than forty-one years into this astounding marriage, the effect is cumulative. Not just another year of committed, intentional love, but the depth, the beauty, the shared experiences, the rich patina that represents all that joy, and creativity, and heartache, and hard work, and the mistakes, the faithfulness, the challenge, and so much more. This year is the best to date, but the very best is always still to come.
- You sound optimistic, Derek. What is your criteria for “a good year”? We’re alive, aren’t we? That’s a good place to start! We’re together, making it work and thriving in the process. And “in process” is the key; it’s about never settling and about always growing. So I measure against what is possible, how we are responding to what life throws at us, how we are growing in terms of honesty and being openhearted, how we are doing in the ongoing business of not only living in the light but living as light, nurturing and encouraging the world around us.
- Tell us about Rebekah? Well, she is amazing! When God planted the light of possibility in Rebekah she picked it up and she has never let it go. Belief is what has always defined her and it is what defines her ministry. We’re in our mid-sixties now, so I’m not pretending she’s not tired, and stretched to the limit, and challenged beyond reason as the pastor of a large, vibrant, engaged and restless church that is full with people who do not like to be contained or restricted or held back in any way by this 2020 pandemic situation. Regardless, Rebekah lives as a relentless witness to abundant life – and it really is something to see!
- How about your children? Are they still making life interesting! We are so proud of them. Naomi and Craig (Campbell) are loving Miami, and the new baby – Geoffrey – joined them just last month. David (9) and Beks (7) are thriving, but we haven’t seen them since they moved and it’s driving us crazy! Over in Dresden, Andrew and Alicia (Maul) continue their life as international teachers and Mr. T. (16-months) is growing up fast; he is such a beautiful boy. They are all a huge part of our firm belief in the promise of the future.
- Do your parents still live next door? How are they? I’ll be honest, Mum and Dad are struggling. Dad (92) is very weak and often disoriented – every day is a challenge. Mum (89) gets worn out and worn down. They love that they are at home, and it is such a privilege to be next door. Between us we make things work. But we would absolutely value your prayers.
- Few people hide their opinion about anything anymore, Derek. So tell us – what do you believe will save this world moving into 2021 and another new year? We absolutely must understand that we were (and are) created for community. The huge deception today is the idea that personal freedom trumps all. But my rights are worthless outside of our life together; my freedom is irrelevant unless I value yours more. If we fail to love our neighbor more than ourselves then we have… failed. Jesus absolutely had this in mind when he said “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength’. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).
However, and this is why I have chosen Lamentations 3 as my key scripture for this letter, “This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Rebekah and I love and care for each and every one of you. We pray that you will move into 2021 with the kind of hope that is secured in the firm and personal knowledge of God’s love.
Here is the Christmas 2020 portrait shoot. I will publish the photographic year in review at the end of the month.
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.