This may shock those of you who know me, but I’m going to turn 70 next May. No jokes, please, at this point! So many of my friends and colleagues are retiring that I “can see it from here.” The problem is, I can’t make out too many details from here. Where will we live? What will I be doing? Do we have enough money?
For me, the problem is compounded by some stark realities. I LOVE my work! I’m literally doing now what I thought I’d be doing in retirement from pastoring; and I’m even getting paid. It’s a great gig. How could I improve on it? Maybe a little less work and a little more playtime with hobbies. I do have some hobbies I like, and I still have energy...well, some energy!
Whenever I think along these lines I end up at the following conclusion: “Lord, put me where You want me to be and for as long as You want to use me.” Being useful to Jesus is the highest calling. Being “put out to pasture” isn’t appealing at all.
According to Leviticus 27, Israel was required to “redeem” or buy back things and people which had previously been given by sacred vow to the Lord’s service. But later they were wanted back. What is interesting is there was a set value ascribed to people that varied with their age. Predictably, males from twenty years to sixty years had the “highest value” of fifty shekels. Young males between five and twenty years were worth twenty shekels. Older men past sixty were worth fifteen shekels! I’m assuming this was gauging productivity. This would suggest that teenagers were more productive than us old guys!
I prefer to consider myself “post-adult.” If you go to a museum and you see the prices for tickets, there usually are three categories, with the middle category being “adult.” And since the older category starts around 62 or 65 years…. You get the idea. I have thus lived long enough to no longer be an adult! I kind of like that.
But how did this come up so fast? Job complained to God about this speedy life in 14:1,2: “How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble! We blossom like a flower and then wither. Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear.” Then he adds in verse 5: “You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer” (NLT).
Books abound for those of us considering retirement. A current bestseller is “How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free.” I can summarize the book thusly: “Do what you’ve always wanted to do and be what you’ve always wanted to be!” But that’s where I am right now! Hmmm …
Jesus has gone ahead of us to “prepare a place” for us. That’s real retirement. That will be a community where there is no more pain or sorrow or anything related to old age. That’s probably the retirement I need to focus on the most. That one I am ready for!