In a previous post, I spoke of God’s gift of discretionary time. I noted that using time in the manner God wants it to be used, brings glory to God and gives us the greatest fulfillment in life. As I have approached retirement, and am now retired, I asked the question, “If I had it to do over, would I want to do something else with my life?” In high school, I considered a career a day for about 6 months in my senior year. Ordained ministry was not one of them. That decision came in my freshman year of college. As I have thought about this question, my clear answer was that while I enjoyed lots of things, I would not have traded my 41 years as a pastor for anything. I believe I was right where God wanted me. Now I am retired. So how do I live this out in retirement? What does God have in store for me? What do I do with my time? Since I am closer to the end than the beginning of my life, I don’t want to waste it.
Everyone who comes to the point of retirement is at a different place. Some retire one day, and begin a new job, or continue their old job. Others take no employment, at least for a while. Some may have health issues that shape their retirement. Each is different. My thoughts and comments address my situation.
Throughout my life, I have discovered that I could not script a life experience anywhere near as good as what God has done in my life and through my life.
So my first questions are: “How do I go about living in retirement as God wants me to? Do I take another church? Do I pursue other interests such as photography and writing (blogging) more than just hobbies? Do I get a job in a non-church setting? Do I visit and spoil our grand-kids? Do I putter around our flower garden? Do I do any or all of the above? Do I learn a new trade, as it were? What do I do?”
I recently attended a retirement dinner for a police officer. He had a great career in law enforcement. He was respected. He was an outstanding police officer. I remember his early years on the force, eager energetic, enthused. He never lost those qualities. In his closing comments, he noted that he was going to start a new job. I figured he would move into one of the security/law enforcement jobs that many officers move into. Instead, he told us that he would be soon starting a job that had absolutely nothing to do with law enforcement. It was totally new for him. He was excited about learning a new career.
I reflected on this. How do you switch from something that you have loved, done well, and been trained in, to something brand new in retirement? No prior experience. A fresh start.
One of my takeaways is that he understands that who he is, is not defined by what he does, or has done. His law enforcement career was a part of his total life journey, not the definitive part. I think he enjoys a freedom to grow in his life journey.
In dealing with these questions, I am confident that God does not want me to sit around doing nothing. I am using the beginning of retirement as a Sabbath time-a time of rest, reflection, exploring, contemplating, renewal and experimenting. Some things that I thought I would get into have faded in importance. I have encountered some new things that never occurred to me.
In this Sabbath time, I am sorting through lots of things. The sorting is allowing time for heart and memory healing. The sorting is bringing clarity to what’s next. I am free to follow my passions such as photography, cycling, writing, gardening, working out to name a few. I am open to new opportunities. I’m not trying to rush into retirement, trying to find ways to fill my calendar.
In the Star Trek series and movies, there are scenes of the Enterprise leaving the orbiting docking station. There, she had been repaired, refitted, and prepared for the next mission. Disengaging from the station was a slow, careful process. It was only when they were free, did they kick into warp drive and zip away.
For me, Sabbath time in retirement is a time of renewal, refitting, and preparing for what’s next. The time of Sabbath is a time of prayer and reflection, pursuing interests and passions, being open to opportunities are all part of my coming to understand the theme(s) of the next chapter of my life. I don’t have to rush out to do something. I can let God lead me into whatever is in store.
Who knows? I may be the guest preacher when you walk into church some Sunday. I may greet you with a smile when you come into one of the large box stores. Who knows? What’s next. I’m not sure but I know it will be great. In the meantime, I am having fun discovering it.