We've already discussed how much of a blessing Saturday morning's "Super-Saturday" workshop turned out to be. The gathering was part of a specialized leadership training event, and I only had men in my class. But then, Sunday, I enjoyed the privilege of talking with a whole new demographic at a church in Palmetto, just north of Bradenton.
I knew the experience would be a good one when I drove up and read the welcome sign outside the church: "COME HEAR DEREK MAUL; AUTHOR, STORYTELLER."
I've been described a lot of ways over the past couple years, in everything from church bulletins to newspaper articles to conference biographical sketches. But this has to be far and away my favorite so far. Come to think of it, it's the kind of thing I'd like to read in my obituary one day... "Derek Maul: child of God; friend of Jesus; faithful husband; loving father; author & storyteller; joyful member of the community of faith..."
In my ongoing "Life Examined", the quality of deliberate constructive introspection that I'm advocating for all of us via this blog, looking ahead to the particular words and phrases that might summarize our lives in an obituary turns out to be an excellent "pause" at this the beginning of another week of work. Obits are typically brief, dense, concentrated - a kind of reduction-sauce or a distilled life-essence squeezed into a couple of inches of newsprint.
So go ahead; I challenge you. Don't be morbid, that's not the point, but take time today to write a simple, one-paragraph obit - an honest one - that might be 100% accurate if written today. Then (after you've got off your knees having begged God's forgiveness!) write the obit you'd like to earn in - say - the year 2014, just five years from now. You see it's true, as the song suggests, the rest really is still unwritten.
So I walked into the Palmetto church, spent a delightful hour with their adult Sunday-school, then had the privilege of bringing the message during worship. It's a small church, with less than 100 members, mostly retired; but well over 150 people joined together yesterday, singing hymns of faith with enthusiasm, praying with sincerity, and listening to the word with the kind of intense receptivity that made it a real joy to be with them for the day.
What a great start to the week! You see, Monday morning is not the first day; the first day of the week is Sunday, and it is a deliberate living out of the context of worship that makes Monday morning and the next few days full with such promise and redemptive possibility.
God's rich blessings - DEREK