01 Aug It’s Harder Than I Thought
Ah, the good life! Retirement! The Golden Years! The kids are raised and out on their own. No more job demands. I can stay up late and sleep in late. And the vacations I’ll take…
Somewhere about now we should hear that screeching brakes sound. As it turns out, the dream of retirement is much different than the reality of it. Note, I DID NOT say, that the dream was BETTER than the reality – just different.
Those kids we raised are indeed out on their own, but now they have kids of their own who have completely stolen my heart. So, of course, when a babysitter is needed, Grandma is first in line for the job. Never mind that I have to get up at 6 a.m. to drive an hour and report for duty at 8 a.m. That is once a week. Another day of my week, I again drive an hour to babysit, but not until 10:30 a.m.
It is true that I am not employed, but it is NOT true that I don’t have a job. Two, sometimes three days a week I make that same hour’s drive to and from Canton to volunteer in Women’s Ministry. Those vacations I dreamed of are now planned around Bible Studies, retreats, and mentoring classes, and so are naturally limited to the same 2 or 3 weeks that I managed while employed. I DO stay up late, usually writing this study guide or some other thing the Lord has laid on my heart to write.
All this to say…retired life is DIFFERENT than I had imagined. Retired life is HARDER than I had imagined. Retired life is BETTER than I had imagined. I think God designed us with a need to work – a drive, if you will. A life devoid of challenges is a life without purpose – a life without growth. A life lived only for self is lonely and joyless. God, in His Word, encourages us to be faithful unto death and promises to give us life as our victor’s crown. (Revelation 2:10)
1 Corinthians 4:1-3 speaks of Paul’s desire to be regarded as a servant of Christ and as one entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. He writes, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” Because I am a Christ follower, I too have been given a trust and it is my greatest desire to prove faithful!
Recently, in an attempt to guide my mentoring partner in determining her life’s mission statement, I pulled out an old chart I had made. It recorded my spiritual gifts, my strengths, my core beliefs, and my life goals and objectives, thereby determining my mission statement. One of my objectives was to “Die Well”. We got a little chuckle out of that, but I am so glad that I determined some twenty years ago that I wanted to be faithful unto death, whenever and however that death would come.
That decision instructed not my death, but my life. As long as I breathe and have a heartbeat, I want to be filled with the breath of the Holy Spirit and I want my heart to beat for Jesus! I want to fight the good fight, finish the race, keep the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7). I press on to “finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24)
Forgive me for being long winded (I hope it is the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit that will somehow touch your spirit for Jesus). Just as retirement is different, harder, and better than I dreamed it would be, so is marriage, parenting, ministry…being a Christ follower.
In our text (John 6:60-69) those who had been “following” Jesus found out it was different than they had anticipated. It was harder. He was asking more of them than just being excited by His miraculous powers. He would not bend to their image of who they thought He should be. He did not come to fulfill their will, but His Father’s. Jesus was asking them to set aside their own agendas to participate in the fulfillment of His Father’s will. For some, it was too big an ask, but for those who accepted the invitation to really follow Jesus, it was different than they had imagined. It was harder. And it was immeasurably better than anything they could ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)