I celebrate those who have created a new identity in their retirement years; who have oriented their lives around a different role than that which defined them in an earlier season of life; taking on the role of a church leader, volunteer or grandparent. Retirement can be an incredible opportunity to re-invest our lives into our churches and communities and the people we love – in the work of God’s kingdom. If you look up the work retire in the dictionary – it means ‘to take out of use’; that was never God’s plan for our lives.. Our retirement years can bring a whole new purpose to our lives. As Ken Blanchard has noted: Now that you’re at a point in your life where you can do something truly important, you need to get under God’s agenda and out from under your own. Parenthetically, you can’t finish well if believe your best days are behind you!
Nothing is static; resist and try to hold on if you can; some times our 'stubbornness' can serves us well as we fight for our independence, but sometimes we simply need to accept the fact that things have changed and learn to let go and move on graciously -- it's part of living well and finishing well. No of us is getting any younger! and sometimes we need to be able to laugh at ourselves -- it helps keep perspective! Solomon recognized this when he wrote about his journey in the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Ecclesiastes 12 (1-8) offers an insightful and somewhat humorous commentary on aging.
Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach (live long enough and old age will come!) when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”
(loss of zeal)
2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, (the world looks darker as our eyes weaken) and the clouds return after the rain; (hope is short lived)
3 when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, (body is weaker)
when the grinders cease because they are few, (loss of teeth)
and those looking through the windows grow dim; (loss of vision)
4 when the doors to the street are closed (loss of mobility)
and the sound of grinding fades; (loss of hearing)
when men rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; (fatigue)
5 when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; (fears / phobias)
when the almond tree blossoms (white hair)
and the grasshopper drags himself along (physical limitations)
and desire no longer is stirred. (self- explanatory! See me if you need a further explanation!)
Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets. (death)
6 Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, (loss of possessions)
7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. 8 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Everything is meaningless!” (the meaninglessness of aging and death)
As Solomon writes about his own journey, gives us the key to finishing well: Remember your Creator... (Ecclesiastes 12:1). How simple and yet profound. God, who is unchaning (Malachi 3:6), knows each of us intimately; His grace will carry us through the changing seasons of life and allow us to live well, through each of those seasons and to finish well for His glory.