See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:-12)
Derek & Geoff, circa 1963
Yesterday would have been my brother Geoff’s 59th birthday. So I drove down to Sarasota and had lunch with my parents. After enjoying my dad’s excellent cooking we sat down (with a cup of tea) to look through some old family photo albums.
It’s always a startling journey through time to pull out old photographs! My favorite was the classic school picture of Geoff and me together, taken circa 1963. We were both students at Harcourt Primary School in Folkestone, England. Gotta love the grins, the creative tie-tying, and the possible evidence of Brylcreem in the hair!
My next “pick of the crop” is this image of my dog, Lassie, taken sometime in the late 1960′s. Of course – and it’s the same with all of us and our family pets – we knew she was the best dog ever in the world. She was my great friend from around the time I was seven through the year I turned 18. Forget “dog-years,” eleven is a huge number in “kid-years” too.
A FAMILY: I was six-weeks old when this next photograph was taken. Look at my parents; my dad was still 27 and my mum was 24! What strikes me is how they had absolutely no clue as to what the next 18 years Geoff and I were both at home would look like.
I was about to write “when the dust settled in 1974,” but, to be honest, the dust never did settle. Fact is it never does. That’s the beauty, and the great challenge, of life as a family.
I look at this photograph, and I see the hope and the promise of a family grounded in love and in faith.
But life as Mauls turned out to be real: at times idyllic and at times difficult; beautiful, messy, joyful, fun, rich, disappointing, rocky, smooth, surprising, heart-wrenching, serendipitous, always soaked in prayer. It was nothing like the romantics like to imagine; it was (and is) everything like a real adventure of living as disciples.
EVERYTHING APPROPRIATE IN IT’S TIME: And so life continues. By the time Thanksgiving 2011 rolled around, the family photograph had grown to look like this joyful conglomeration!
Then, last year, Geoff’s journey took the sharp turn toward eternity. But now his daughter, Hannah, has added a toddler and an infant she and Andrew Roberts are fostering. Our Andrew’s Alicia has joined the family, and in June Naomi and Craig’s second child will be born.
There is a time. There is a season.
There’s a season for everything and a time for every matter under the heavens: a time for giving birth and a time for dying, a time for planting and a time for uprooting what was planted, a time for killing and a time for healing, a time for tearing down and a time for building up, a time for crying and a time for laughing, a time for mourning and a time for dancing, a time for throwing stones and a time for gathering stones, a time for embracing and a time for avoiding embraces, a time for searching and a time for losing, a time for keeping and a time for throwing away, a time for tearing and a time for repairing, a time for keeping silent and a time for speaking, a time for loving and a time for hating, a time for war and a time for peace.
What do workers gain from all their hard work? I have observed the task that God has given human beings. God has made everything fitting in its time, but has also placed eternity in their hearts, without enabling them to discover what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11)