Standing up to Testify (transcript of my words at dad’s service)

– Wake Forest Presbyterian Church

My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it? Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat. What if one of you said, “Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!”? What good is it if you don’t actually give them what their body needs? In the same way, faith is dead when it doesn’t result in faithful activity.

James 2:14-17

The following is (as promised in “Thoughts around dad’s memorial service“) a transcript of the words I shared Sunday afternoon. Again, if you would rather listen, the video is posted below, cued up:

Derek Maul:

I want to give fair warning: the odds are high that there will be tears here this afternoon.

  • First, because I am a big softie whose defenses have pretty much evaporated over forty years of ministry.
  • Second because I am standing in this space again, in worship, with all of you.
  • Third because this passing, this passage, this thin space where life and death overlap and time brushes up against eternity, is about 90% pure spirit and soul, and I simply don’t have the capacity to hold the lid on this much love.

I could eulogize my dad by saying the year he was born George V was king of England, Herbert Hoover was elected president, Micky Mouse appeared in Steamboat Willie, bubble gum was invented, penicillin was discovered, and “Sonny Boy” by Al Jolson was the most popular song.

David Maul was the kind of person you couldn’t make up if you tried. His kind of quality is difficult to describe, it really needed to be experienced. So, I’m going to offer just three illustrations and you can fill in everything else.

Story #1: Tea:

First, this story that explains both something about my dad’s servant spirit and how our family ended up in America.

My brother, Geoff, was struggling with direction in his life when a friend encouraged him to attend an international missions school where she worked. Geoff couldn’t make up his mind and said, “If I’m up when you stop by in the morning then I’ll go.” So he stayed up late and did not set an alarm.

Meanwhile, the next morning – early – my dad did what he had done every day for 21 years. He climbed the stairs with a tray of tea so he could serve mum in bed (my brother had said not to wake him). Dad did something he had never done the previous 7,500 times… he tripped halfway up the stairs and dropped everything! Teapot, cups, saucers! It all went down in a mighty explosion of noise, and everyone in the house was instantly awake.

So Geoff got in the car with his friend. He met a bunch of Americans, including Hannah’s mom, Rosalene. The “America Connection” was initiated and – as they say – The rest is History.  

Story #2: He treated all people kindly and fairly:

My dad always wanted to be a farmer – and his vegetable garden was a thing of beauty. But his dad wanted him in the family business so there he was, CEO of “F.W. Maul & Son, Ltd” – later “FWM Plastics”. The point of the business was to provide good jobs for families in the community, and to help support mission work throughout the world.

In other words, profitable for the community and for the Kingdom of God.

Consequently, even though – in the 60’s and 70’s – manufacturing in the UK was all but controlled by the trade unions, FWM was never unionized.

Why? Well, when agitators came on campus trying to get workers to organize, the response was always the same. “Mr. Maul treats us fairly. Why would we need to join a union?”

Story #3: Dad’s heart surgery:

Around 15 years ago, dad had to have Quadruple heart bypass surgery. It was very serious. We hung around in the waiting room for a very long time.

Eventually the surgeon came in. “I have to explain to you why it took so long,” he said. “David’s heart was surrounded by a hard shell. Likely previous undiagnosed infections. The sac had calcified, and we had to essentially break through before we could perform the bypass.”

Rebekah looked the doctor in the eye and made an observation loaded with insight. “So what I hear you saying, Doctor, is that David’s heart had to – first- be broken before it could be healed….”

Most of you here know my passion for men’s ministry. So many of us wall ourselves off, building barricades around our vulnerabilities – impenetrable shells around our hearts. We keep people at a safe distance, and we try to protect ourselves from our vulnerabilities.

In consequence we fail to know and to be known, we fail to engage life… other people… our wives… our brothers and sisters… God… with our authentic selves. So afraid of opening up, we cut off our hearts and souls from the healing Jesus offer through one another.

Conclusion: 

So the question remains. How can you tell if someone is a genuine person of faith? Well James said all we have to do is observe their behavior. I am absolutely not a legalist… but James was right.

David Maul’s life was proof positive. If you had been a front row spectator you would have seen the evidence. Another way to say evidence is “product”, or “fruit”.

We could call it the fruit of faith. Or “fruit of the Spirit”. Like I said, all the evidence you could want. For me that was a lifetime of…

  • LOVE – mostly unspoken and reserved but strong;
  • of quiet JOY;
  • of genuine PEACE; 
  • of what the scriptures call FORBEARANCE and what we experienced as more patience than we deserved;
  • of tea-serving and affirming, generous, KINDNESS,
  • of deep-down GOODNESS,
  • of unfailing FAITHFULNESS,
  • of compassionate GENTLENESS,
  • and of measured SELF-CONTROL. 

“The fruit of the Spirit,” Paul writes, “is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

– at WFPC Sunday November 20th, 2022

I would say that made my dad a deeply spiritual man. I would say that David Maul was a witness to life, to light, to love, to mercy, to justice, to hope, to promise… and (of course) to GRACE.

In love, and because of love – DEREK

2 thoughts on “Standing up to Testify (transcript of my words at dad’s service)

  1. Thank you Derek.
    So lovely to see what you had to say about your amazing father. We loved him dearly. Still unable to hear the recording well enough to listen to it though.
    It was lovely to watch the celebration of David’s life. Bless you and all the family.
    Georgwyn.

    Like

  2. Cindi Whiteside

    Derek, I just found out today about your Dad’s passing from this life to Eternal Life. I will pray for comfort and peace for your precious Mom, and I will pray for you and your wife as you help her navigate her grief. I am so thankful to have met you all. God bless you now and in the days to come.

    In Christ’s love,
    Cindi Whiteside (Judy Truman’s daughter)

    Liked by 1 person

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