My son asked me the other day, “Dad, are there things at your age that you are trying to accomplish?” I thought, “at my age, really, have I become a dinosaur?” Then I rattled off a couple works and obligations that satisfied him.
After that it was Sunday. I studied a little scripture, listened to a few preachers preach it, and decided today to expand on my son’s good question.
I thought about the great commission, about retirement, and work in general. First let’s get retirement out of the way. To me retirement once meant I was going to stop busting my butt to save money and put food on the table. It now means that I can actually work at “other things” because I have more time. But let’s get one thing straight! Work in an of itself is not “the curse.” If you cannot retire “just tend the garden.” You will see what than means further on. You can still act like you are retired by doing things differently. God does “work.” God gave Adam the task of tending the garden, before the “curse.” He said, “…we should work it and keep it.” The “curse” simply makes work arduous. Weeds get in the way, crops fail, there are times when it does not rain. He did not say give up, He said “tend the garden and keep it.”
And girls, childbearing is not the “curse” either. Childbearing is not a bad thing, I am told it simply hurts like hell. “I will multiply your pain in childbearing,” He said to the woman. So work itself is not bad, weeds suck, but we were created in God’s image to work and bear fruit! Childbearing is not bad, it is painful; kids bring us joy!
God works, even today! If you think like most scientists and skeptics that God or the Great Something (“if he exists,” they say) just set everything in random motion, retired, and now sits on His golden Lazy Boy hoping for grandbabies to come visit Him your view of God is all wrong!
Even Christians can get living all wrong. They think since the “New Covenant” came along our chief path is to only preach the gospel. Some even say, “Only on Sundays so as not to offend.” It is, however, true that telling others about the good news of Jesus is our primary function, make disciples dude! But we are not all supposed to quit our jobs and become preachers (some should). There is also a social, cultural, and legal element in being a christian.
As far as retirement is concerned. Remember, most of us worked all our lives and about now (if you are considering retirement too) we finally just stopped being an idiots, and now we want to quit?
This is what I told my son. I said God has blessed me in so many ways, I’ve worked well on saving and planning, I have learned much, and I know way more than I did when I was younger. My “job” in retirement is to help others, to pass on what I have learned. I want to pass on my knowledge and my passion. Of course I will take a little time out to experience joy; to travel, fish, and build things. God is more than a slave driver, He loves us as we love our children, you want to take a little vacation kids? Let’s do it! But when we get back it’s noses to the grindstone!
Speaking for most of my friends who have not retired they either don’t feel like they have enough money to retire or they have the “what the heck am I going to do” fobia. I heard a preacher once say, “Most men if they are honest, don’t want to go to heaven!” They think heaven is a place where men sit on clouds and play harps. They are right in thinking that heaven is no place for “real men” if heaven is that boring. But heaven is also not the big golf course in the sky where retired Christian’s rest and play silly games. No, it’s not! Remember again, God works! He made us in His image. So we will also work in heaven. Did you see that sunset the other day? Did you receive a blessing from God recently? Do you know that God wants us to subdue the earth? He said so in Genesis! Why did He say so? Could it be that what we should do, what we should “work” at, is to reflect the Glory of God. Let’s think about building things. When I built my house I wanted it to reflect the glory of the mountains behind it. Who made the mountains? A walnut tree is beautiful in its own setting, but when I build a piece of furniture, the bark is stripped off, the wood is cut and planed, sanded and polished to create something beautiful! God likes beautiful things, right! I subdued creation! What I’m saying is there is also a cultural angle to worshiping God. Do whatever you do well. Hard work honors him, building things that function well for society honors Him. At the same time building things that are beautiful honors him. So it is with building relationships and doing your best at whatever you work at. We have a choice, our works in retirement and life can honor us for a season or honor God for eternity.
Let me finish by writing about goodness. Food is good right! We work to plant it and we labor to get it out of the ground. Or like most of us we labor to pay for some underpaid third world illegal worker to dig it up ( that’s another story). So with work we subdue, chop, salt and grill to perfection those potato’s, carrots and onions. And they taste good! And much better grilled. Is it dinner time? Do you thank God for the millions of taste buds He gave you? How about your wife? He gave you a “helper,” do you thank God for her? Did her loving hands cook your meal? Can you afford to share that goodness with someone else?
You see there are lots of things we can “work” at in retirement. Some like to say retirement is doing what they want when they want to do it. Other say it is like changing jobs. I like to say it is like having more responsibility. We must figure out what we should work at; not just work when or how we want to do. It is like being more in tune with “nature,” of course I mean God, not mother earth, or gaia, the non existant mother of all life. The good, one, eternal God made us from the dust of the earth. We cannot be any more in touch with nature than that! The gospel has a broad and deep influence on individuals, societies, and cultures. Preach it and live it all of your days. Work at showing others how beautiful God is. And enjoy Him forever!