Just got back from a trip to Tucson visiting my grandparents. This past year they moved into a retirement community. Very well off, they bought the nicest model of the optional home choices. They built their own and are in the motions of building a second one in order to house more guests at one time.
I’ve never visited a retirement community before. It was actually quite bizarre really. As my siblings and I walked around, we were stared at and even scowled at a time or two. The question that kept coming forward was, “What is this aversion to young people?” We meant no harm and did our best to stay out of their way. It really made us laugh, but it also stirred deeper questions in my heart.
Retirement. The American dream. Work hard the first half of your life in order to live the life you really wanted in the first place, one of enjoying comfort and endless amounts of time. Work, work, work for this tiny percentage of your life to be nice and easy.
Sounds good right? Ya, I totally agree. Well, I did until I actually experienced it.
I watched these retirees leisurely wake up to exercise, play golf/tennis, sit at the pool all day, and enjoy the community’s gossip. And the crazy thing was…this is their everyday routine. Day after day of do what you want when you want. Avoid anything that infringes on the comfort and care-free life you’ve finally achieved.
After one day, I was quite eager to get out to the mountains to see the new places and people.
I realize that I am not worn out by life yet, and I “don’t understand what it is to be old.” However, something in my spirit was unsettled. This isn’t right.
This whole idea of retiring in order to just live lazily and in your own comfort. This may be a bold statement, but I don’t believe that God ever meant this type of retirement for us.
My thoughts turn towards Billy Graham and Corrie ten Boom, two beautiful examples of Christians finishing their race well. They ran with all they had until their bodies could not physically take a step farther. Corrie continued until she had a debilitating stroke which prevented her from speaking, however her spirit was still alive and well. Her prayers were heard in Heaven and continued to shift things on earth. Graham stepped down this past year at the ripe age of 95. His body is worn and weathered not allowing him to do what he used to. However, he still prays and encourages those around him. His ministry is far from over.
No where in Scripture does it speak of working your life away in order to live in comfort for the last 20 years. Instead we are urged to finish our course to the best of our ability,
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I recieved from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).
This here serves as a reminder of what our life it really about. It isn’t about finally achieving a life of ease and luxury. It’s meant to be lived to the last day. The last day we open our eyes is meant to be a day that we testified to the Gospel.
I think the enemy wants to fool us into thinking that this life is about working for those last years. But the truth is, our retirement is in Heaven.
Our life is a race. Our WHOLE life. There isn’t a stoping stage. When we hit the age of 50, the race doesn’t suddenly end and your purpose shifts to just survive. When an athlete retires, he drops out of the race, out of contention for the win. He forfeits his prize and any rewards. We cannot fall into the belief that the race was cut short to help make our life easier. The race isn’t over until we stand before our Lord and Savior.
I’ve come to realize after mulling over this whole topic, that I never intend to retire. Sure, I may stop working as a teacher or business woman, but that was never my real goal because my real goal lies in the testifying of Jesus Christ’s glory and God’s grace. If God ever does call me to quit working, then it will only aid me in accomplishing more for the Lord’s name and glory.
I think this is the beauty of getting old. When you do stop working for a paycheck, it opens up a whole new level of time and devotion to God’s work.
All that to say, I don’t plan on retiring. In my old age, I look forward to loving on God’s children even more than I can now. I look forward to being that old lady who gets on her hands and knees to love the homeless, the sick, the needy. I look forward to giving the last drops of my life to those who need love and compassion. Old age isn’t about finding comfort. It’s about sharing all the great things God has done for you in your life.
This race isn’t over till your eyes close and the breath leaves your body. I won’t be caught quitting this race early. May we as Christians shift our eyes from seeking those last years of comfort and ease, and begin working towards furthering His kingdom in hopes that those last years of our life will be full of even deeper devotion to God’s cause.
May we all be able to say on that last day as Paul said,
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:6-7).