I've reached another milestone in the this journey we call life. I'm going to become a grandparent! For the life of me I don't understand why people don't like to think about being a grandparent. Maybe it's because they have to face the fact that they've lived out a lot of their years already, I don't know. I only know that I am thrilled and can't wait to get my hands on that little baby! I can't wait to fill that child up with sugar and a sack of new toys and send them home to their parents! I can't wait to play in the sand, go to the park, cuddle and rock that little babe. For me, it's like a breathe of new life! A new era of excitement. I feel all revved up and ready to embrace grandparenthood with all the vigor and gusto that I embraced parenthood. In no way do I want to slow down or retire to a rocker, nor do I think I should!
For years, I've wondered about something. Why do old Christians retire to Florida? Why do missionaries Why do some missionaries come off the field physically AND spiritually? Why do older people think that when they retire from a vocation, they've retired from the kingdom of God?
I've never understood this mentality. I've been in churches filled with older people who mostly just take up space and criticize the Pastor. They aren't involved in ministry. They aren't engaged, except with each other. They sit at McDonald's and talk about their ailments and all the things going wrong in their lives and in their churches. But they don't seem to be part of any solutions.
Now, don't get me wrong. This is not ALL older people. But there is a significant number of moldy oldy Christians that need to get with the Kingdom program!
Old age is heralded in scripture as a time of life when you can be the most effective in areas that younger folk cannot. Gray hair is heralded as a crown, not a curse. Sure, you don't have the energy nor the stamina to go the mission field or do campus ministry, but you do have the time, the wisdom, the experience and the finances to help those who are in the trenches do it more effectively.
When my husband was in seminary, we were at the "home base", so to speak, of our denomination. The church we attended was known as the "mother church". Attending there were older missionaries and ministers, now retired, but surely not unemployed by the Kingdom of God. Sunday service was their favorite time of the week. They would seek out seminary students, take them home for lunch, and then after filling their stomachs, they would feed us from their vast knowledge and experience. We left their homes full in every respect. They would pray for us, talk to us about practical ministry skills, share funny and hair raising stories of ministry experience and how God brought them through it all. We left inspired and challenged.
But since being in ministry for 25 years now, what I mostly see is people whose ministries must truly have been just a vocation for them. Being in ministry and knowing the call of God that comes when one enters ministry leaves me with the feeling that we never retire from the ministry. We either die in it or we'll get raptured out of it. The call of God has no expiration or retirement date.
This doesn't just apply to vocational ministers either. What about lay Christians who have retired from a secular job that God used to finance ministry? Is Florida really a good reason to bow out of teaching Bible study groups, discipling younger believers, ministering to single moms, orphaned children, or the cast down?
My husband and I have talked extensively about this. We will someday, perhaps, retire from pastoring. However, we will never retire from ministry. As long as we have breath, we will choose to be a blessing somewhere to someone. We will teach and talk with whomever is willing to listen. We will use what God has blessed us with to help those who are younger to achieve even a higher level of success in ministry than we were ever able to obtain. When the vocational part of ministry is through for us, we will simply sign up for re-deployment in the Lord's army and continue on until we die in it or the war is over.
In a piece written by Albert Mohler he states "The Bible dignifies both labor and age, but the modern American ideal of retirement is nowhere to be found in the Scriptures. Instead, lives of useful service to the Kingdom of Christ are the expectation, all the way to the grave.
The economic crisis of recent years has forced many Americans to rethink and redefine retirement as a matter of necessity. For Christians, this represents an important opportunity. The ideal for Christians should be redeployment, even after employment. There is so much Kingdom work to be done, and older believers are desperately needed in this great task. There are missionaries to be assisted, ministries to be energized, young couples to be counseled, boys without fathers to be mentored, and wisdom and experience to be shared. The possibilities for Christian redeployment are endless.
There is room in the Christian life for leisure, but not for a life devoted to leisure. As long as we have the strength and ability to serve, we are workers needed in Christ’s Kingdom. Given the needs and priorities all around us, who would settle for life in Leisureville"
I say AMEN!
Scripture tells us that God provides us with a sabbath rest as we walk in Him daily, we find rest for our souls. This rest is in the midst of and in spite of our current circumstances. There is no rest that can be found anywhere like the soul-rest we have as believers in Jesus Christ. Look at Paul and Silas. Beaten, chained to a wall, looking forward to a probable execution because of their work for the Lord. Yet, they were at peace. Peace that brought songs of praise from their lips. I dare say that most of us have never been in such a situation as that, but what is our response to trials in the work of God?
Some think that we will rest in heaven, but I don't see that in scripture. God likes His people to be busy working at something. Even in perfection, Adam and Eve worked, tending the garden. This tells me that the labor of and for the Lord is not like what we normally associate with "toil". That was only added as part of the curse for their sin. It does take our time, it does consume our lives, but when we are consumed with God's purpose and His work, there is a satisfaction and peace that is ours that no earthly vocation can give us.
So if our work today that is of and for the Lord seems like toil, then maybe we need to step back and figure out if we are where we should be. We need to make sure that we are doing what He asked us to do, for if we are then we are assured that the energy, wisdom and provision is available to us to do it with joy-even in the tough times. And every minister knows that there are tough times. We must examine our thinking and attitudes toward work and make sure that we view work as what scripture tells us it-a gift from the Lord.
Is your work from God a gift?
Are you at peace in it?
Are you looking forward to retirement or redeployment?