Have you ever thought about how you want to spend the last years of your life? For many people, these last years fall into a category more widely known as “retirement.” Our pastor, John Piper, is known for challenging the popular idea of retirement – specifically, that after a person retires from formal employment the only thing left to do is play golf or travel. (If this peaks your interest, check out these two short books – “Don’t Waste Your Life” and “Rethinking Retirement.”)
You may think it seems odd for a 27-year old to be blogging about retirement, but one thing I have come to realize in life is that it goes by fast. Here in Minnesota, the leaves have almost all fallen and been raked, but it seems as if they just budded. Winter is coming, and we will get to see how quickly a vapor sticks around – about 2 seconds…maybe. And yet those are a couple of the images that God likens us to in the Bible. So, it really is not that strange to begin thinking about retirement at age 27 or to being rethinking retirement at age 56 or 67, because we do not have as much time left as we once thought.
Another thing I have come to realize is that I know so little about life. I have so few experiences to offer others, especially in regard to missions and ministry. The people who have a plethora to offer are those retired persons, who have spent decades in marriage, in work, in relationships, in raising children, in ministry, in various difficult situations, etc. For all the people in the world who could greatly benefit from them, why are they “entitled” to just have fun for the last 30 years of their lives? For all the incredibly hard things that happen on the mission field, why not send the people who are most prepared?!
I heard a story once about an elderly man who realized that he was coming to the end of his life and didn’t want to die in a nursing home (who does?). So, instead, he went to a very closed country and encouraged the underground church for a while and then went public with his faith and got killed. Isn’t there something deep inside you that makes you want that kind of passion and faithfulness to the very end? I don’t want to be a brown, shriveled leaf hanging on a tree somewhere, waiting for the wind to finish me off.
Recently, at a missions gathering, there was an older couple, probably in their late 60’s, who said that they did not know what God had for them, but they just wanted to finish well. That might mean a thousand different things for them, but whatever the case, they are devoted to spending the rest of their lives doing something that counts beyond their lives. Please join them and me in fighting against the American view of retirement, and let’s finish well.