From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:8-9
This morning, trying to unearth a story I remember writing somewhere in the late 1980’s, I dug around in my collection of old journals. I couldn’t find what I was looking for, but I did discover a collection of meditations from the days I was still composing in longhand, every other line, writing on yellow legal pads.
One section, from a devotional I shared with the huge “young families” Sunday school class Rebekah and I led at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Pensacola (back when we were, well, young ourselves) seems especially appropriate for today. I think I may have used part of this in one of my books; I want you to read it:
“We do not need to add anymore to the sadness we encounter. There is already too much tragedy in this world. Too much heartache from events that are beyond our control. Too much, already, to grieve.
“When we interact together as families, as spouses, as friends, as members of a church, with our colleagues at work, strangers, or anyone at all, we have this choice, we have this opportunity. We can either be a light to the darkness, or we can snuff out the light altogether. We can model the redemptive love of God through our lives, or we can buy into negativism and participate in its dark victory.
“Though I often fail and I have a lot to learn in the years to come, I have no doubt that my contribution to this world is meant to be the strengthening of love, the turning on of lights in its darkness, and the opening of closed spirits. I believe that this is God’s special purpose for all of us.
“I also know without a doubt that this is possible, and that God will endow us with his Spirit as we extend ourselves with commitment and with purpose to this mission.
“Our task is clear. The starting place is simple: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute — if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise — let your mind dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen… practice those things. And the God of peace shall be with you‘ (Philippians 4:8-9).”Derek Maul (1987)
I am determined to find the other piece of writing that I was trying to track down. But for today, I honestly believe that this is God’s good word for me. I pray these thoughts may be God’s word for you too.
In love, and because love requires us to live in peace and to be reconciled to others – DEREK