Retirement, which might seem like a permanent vacation,
took me through all sorts of emotional turmoil. Beginning
with serious illness, I first felt very happy--and very
grateful. My life had been spared, my family and my
church family were supportive, and every day, I felt
stronger and more capable.
Then the bottom fell out. Suddenly, I felt very old and
sad. My recovery wasn't progressing nearly as fast as it
had at first, and I wondered why I'd been spared since I
didn't feel that I had a lot to live for.
I had studied, taught and written about the Bible all my life,
and I know what it says about the brevity of life: "You are
a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes"
(James 4:14). "All men are like grass, and all their glory is
like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the
flowers fall" (1 Peter 1:24). I'd even written about the
brevity of life, but still my own old age took me by
I had always been young and vital. Living in my own
mind, my consciousness was magnified to the point that it
was impossible to imagine the world without my being
here to comprehend it.
Retirement was an identity crisis for me; I felt as if I hardly
knew myself. I had written about time management, and
yet I couldn't seem to think of anything better to do than
watch TV. I'd written books about faith, but mine seemed
to be failing. I'd written about growing old with God, but I
seemed just to be growing old, and God seemed far
I prayed for strength. I looked back over my life and
considered all the great lessons I'd taught. I wondered if I
had ever really believed them at all.
Now I find myself coming out of that phase, too. God has
been faithful and has answered my prayers. He's given me
a renewed sense of myself as someone who is slightly
older, not quite so strong, but still able to do what each
day demands, to help the people around me, and to find
joy in a quieter, simpler, less hectic lifestyle.
Preparing for retirement has little to do with money. God
is faithful. He gives us what we need. It has to do, rather,
with being prepared for a new sense of time, of self, of
others and of God, while caring for ourselves physically,
mentally and emotionally, loving our families, friends and
church families, and being emotionally honest through the
stages of adjustment that come our way.
Father, thank you for your presence through a long life.
Thank you that you're still with me--guiding, providing,
sometimes chiding, but constantly drawing me homeward
Thank you for my family, friends and church family.
Thank you for their love and my love for them. Help me
learn to love more deeply by drawing on your love for me.
Thank you for food and shelter, health and strength, and
the ability to appreciate the beauty around me. Help me
look for beauty and joy, and determine to find it.
Help me continue to put my life in your hands, trusting that
you'll make me the kind of person you'd have me be.
Thank you for an abiding curiosity and interest in the
varied aspects of the life you've given me. Help me retain
an interest in the world around me--people who have
needs that I can't imagine, but whom I can pray for and
work to help.
And help me grow more interested in the life you've
promised--a continuation of the fullness of my life in you.
Because of Jesus, Amen.