Just as seasons of the year each have unique beauty and challenges, so do the seasons of our lives. To fully appreciate each season, we need to ask God to open our eyes to the beauty of that time and the courage to face any challenges that season presents. I am totally enjoying living in fall/winter season of my life, which for most of us begins with retirement. I am surprised when people express dread of life after retirement or complain about it while they are living it. So, I invite you to explore with me several reasons to celebrate the gift of retirement and the new opportunities it presents.
Just because we retire does not mean that God’s call on our life ceases. Retirement is a chance to embrace and live out Paul’s testimony in Acts 20:24, “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is 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.” Retiring from a job does not mean we retire from being Christ’s disciple and kingdom builders.
I realize that for many people, some of their calling has been defined by the work they did or the position they held. They were able to use their God-given gifts in a unique way in those roles. There's a lot of accomplishment to celebrate and thanks to give God for his faithfulness in that career.
But realize that, although we now spend our time differently, we are still living under God’s call, which is far more than a job or profession. We are still called to be ministers of reconciliation and ambassadors of his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). We are still called to be God’s “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 1:9). How we carry out the call will be different, but discovering the new opportunities to live out that call is reason to celebrate. Retirement can be an exciting adventure of walking in faith as we listen to and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading.
Retirement is a season when we have more time to explore the opportunity to influence those who are coming up behind us. It gives us more time to pour into the lives of grandchildren, teens, young adults, or young parents. We get to be like Elijah passing on the mantle of grace to the Elishas who will receive a double portion of the blessing to do things we weren’t called to do. Over the years about twenty teens and young adults have sought me out to be their mentor. I am profoundly honored and blessed to get to walk with them through the different seasons of their lives, always pointing them to the One who will strengthen, lead, and sustain them.
As communication in our culture becomes more electronic, younger people are hungering for meaningful personal relationships to help them deal with life. Retirement enables us to give them what they hunger for: someone who has the time to authentically listen, validate, and help them make sense of this chaotic world. So, I encourage you to celebrate the blessing of being one person who has the time to walk with them, bless them, and even learn from them. Ask God to show you who you can mentor today.
I acknowledge that change is difficult, and retirement is all about change. We leave behind a lifetime of work where we felt validated, secure, and affirmed to face an unknown and less structured future. Every morning we will have a choice to make about where our focus lies: are we going to focus on what we don’t have any more or are we going to focus on the gifts of grace God is giving us in this new season of life. Our human nature tends to focus on the negative or what we are missing. But those of us in Christ, have an assurance that he has a good purpose and plan for this time of our lives.
Listen to these beautiful words of hope in Lamentations 3: 22-24, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him.’” The God who was faithful in our past, is the same God who holds our future. Imagine how different your day would be if you began each day by intentionally thanking and praising God for the blessings of your new reality. Every morning I ask God to open my eyes to his glory that he is revealing to me in that day. I also ask for “God appointments” or opportunities to be a blessing to someone. Retirement has the benefit of expanded time allotment to seek ways to bless others. Then at the end of the night, when I am in prayer, I offer back to God the blessings He gave me in that day, and I celebrate his love, compassion, and faithfulness with praise and thanksgiving.
So instead of dreading or complaining about retirement, I encourage you to celebrate the new call God has on your life. Celebrate the gift of time to pour into the lives of those coming behind us. Celebrate and meditate on the unique blessing this season of life holds and pour out your heart in praise and thanksgiving.