We’ve often pondered on the quality of our life after retirement. With the busy days we keep, how can we function when all the appointments, meetings and desk reports fade as we near the golden years. Tami Heim, President and CEO of Christian Leadership Alliance, shares with us this insightful article as a guide to our future productive years.
Many things become more beautiful with time and use. Age refines and ultimately transforms them into something of inestimable value. Purified by testing and trials, they contribute much more than when they first existed.
We see this pattern repeat itself over and over again in life. When we discover it, we recognize the rhythm of God in it.
Enriched by time
The rich sound and tone from a well-used Stradivarius violin takes our breath away, especially those with a trained ear. Without use, however, it is said that even this magnificent violin goes to sleep. Keen observers say that its tone dies. The violin sounds sleepy. But, if the instrument is played regularly, it can gradually wake up. The sound becomes more beautiful with use and time.
I ache when I think of the brevity of life. What would happen should I fall asleep? What opportunity would I miss to serve my Master? I know I am His workmanship and long to do every good work He planned for me (see Ephesians 2:10). I know that all my experiences in life were not just for me, but also for the profit of all (see 1 Corinthians 12:7). And I’ve learned that when I don’t make the most of those opportunities, I miss out. My tone sounds sleepy.
The best is yet to come
Four decades ago I gave my life to Jesus Christ. I determined that I didn’t want to live another day without Him at the center. That decision led me to the hardest of places. God perfected and pruned me to soften my heart, break my spirit, and increase my dependence on Him alone.
Just like the violin, once in the hands of the Master, my life started to produce music. With more use and time in His hands, my life filled with beauty, joy, and pleasure (see Psalm 16:11).
In the later seasons of life, we are tempted to opt-out, slow down, and indulge in setting our own agendas. It’s easy to justify it after years of hard work and sacrifice. It’s enticing to kick back and claim ownership over the time we think we have left. But I believe there is a better choice. We can choose to strip down and run even harder the race before us, with our eyes on the prize of Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 12:1-2). I believe God’s best work in us and through us is planned for us in the days we are closest to home.
Hunter S. Thompson wrote in his book, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a Ride!’” While Thompson’s life and example were not one guided by faith, I can easily adapt his sentiment. That’s how I want to finish and fall into the arms of Jesus.
Paul’s admonition to life after retirement
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he instructs Timothy on what is necessary to remain useful. Paul’s message is timeless, relevant and meaningful for every season of life. As you look to steward well your experience and to put to work the wisdom you’ve gained, consider four imperatives (see 2 Timothy 2:22-26).
1. Flee Youthful Passions. Let go of the desires that filled your mind in your youth. They will tempt you now if you give them space. Possessions, position, wealth, celebrity and success are fleeting. Remember what He has for you is so much more than all of these.
2. Pursue Holiness. Wholeheartedly pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace. Run hard with like-minded people and call on God from a pure heart. Slowing down is not an option in His plan.
3. Reject Controversies. Ignore the silly and useless debates that work to consume you and end in senseless or hurtful division. Instead, be an agent of gentleness, and keep your focus on the one true thing that is the only thing that matters.
4. Trust God. Choose each day to put your heart on the altar to be altered. Sacrifice selfish desires and get ready for service. Don’t ever opt-out and miss what is the good and acceptable will of God for you (see Romans 12:1-2). As pastor Robby Gallaty often exhorts, “The gospel came to you on its way to someone else.” Every day is a gift loaded with new opportunities for faithfulness.
Trusting His hands, life after retirement
I give thanks for how God decided to use my husband and me on the other side of fifty. We said “Yes, God” to illogical career shifts, unlikely moves, third-world mission trips, and international adoption. Our ministry service has puzzled some around us, but in obedience, we have come to know indescribable joy. He’s done “immeasurably more” than we could imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
Does this mean that life has been easy? No way! But we would not trade a day of it. And now, as we enter our sixties and beyond, we hope the sound of our lives becomes more beautiful with use and time in the hands and service of our Master.
This article was first published by ChristianSuper.
To read more articles about retirement, click here.
Author Bio: Tami Heim is the President and CEO of Christian Leadership Alliance. Her executive experience and board service span three decades with leadership in Fortune 500 companies and Christian nonprofit ministries. Tami and her husband, Dale, serve in their church weekly and lead several mission trips to Haiti each year.
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