Yesterday, I was involved in two very dynamic conversations about the concept of retirement.
As people live longer, government programs are initiated, and more discretionary income is available, our North American culture offers “hope” for the day that we can stop working. What doesn’t sit well with me is that many Christians seem to have settled with this cultural ideal of retirement ingrained in their minds and there is a an unspoken sense of entitlement that fuels their future plans. The conversations certainly left me with a lot of questions so I came home and spent some time in the Bible. God speaks often about rest but the only verse that I could find that refers to the idea of “withdrawing from labor” is Numbers 8:23-26. The Levites who were over age 50 were able to “retire” from carrying the tabernacle, but still served in guarding it.
23 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “This applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting. 25 And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. 26 They minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties.”
I think the Bible is pretty clear that we are called to serve others and to love them as ourselves and that includes during retirement. I would say, especially in retirement because we no longer have employment constraints. Retirement is a season of life that frees up time for endless opportunities to further God’s work and impact lives but I hear more about playing golf, winter homes and vacation plans. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think that any of this is wrong – but I think it begs some personal reflection on motivation and intention. “I put in my time,” “I earned it,” “Now is MY time” are subtle attitudes that creep into our thinking but The Great Commission still applies when we stop working full time.
I have a seashell on my kitchen window sill. I put it there after I read an outstanding book entitled, “Don’t Waste Your Life” by John Piper and it is a daily and visual reminder that God is not interested in how many shells I collect on the beach when I get older.
I really want my life to count for God every single day. Now that I have less days ahead of me than behind me, it’s something to think about….