Millions of people retire every year. If your number is soon to be called, you are definitely feeling a little anxious. “Have I…”, “Did I…”, “Can I still…”, oh those questions must’ve run through your mind as you drove home. Preparing for retirement is paramount 5-7 years (or more) prior to the day.
The word retirement is one of the words which the English language appropriated from the French, around the 16th century. It was originally used in the military sense; i.e. “to withdraw to a place of safety or seclusion” (from the French ‘re’ (back) and ‘tirer’ (to draw)).
Moving on with God
“Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.” These were the dying words of C.T. Studd spoken as he lay thousands of miles from his homeland in the middle of the jungles of Africa. He lived a life that exhibited his profound trust in the Lord’s ability to provide.
After becoming a wealthy and famous cricket player in England, Studd felt God leading him to go to China as a missionary. Heeding the call, he sold all his earthly possessions and went. His childlike obedience led him from China to India and ultimately to Africa (the latter against the advice and desires of those closest to him). He died with very few earthly possessions to his name. Yet, he died praising God.
C.T. Studd understood the purpose of his life and as a result, lived with great contentment and faith. He knew that he existed to bring glory to God, and he desired to make His name known. His confidence rested entirely upon his faith in his Provider.
The words of Hebrews 13:5 aptly describe his life, “be content with what you have, because God said, ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.’” C.T. Studd was content with what he had because he had the one thing he needed — that everyone needs — God.
Fear of loss
While C.T. Studd’s story may not be the normal picture of retirement, his life exemplifies what it means to live purposefully to the very end. His contentment and faith allowed him to thrive until his final breath. Unfortunately, for most people retirement is not filled with this kind of contentment and faith, but rather with consumerism and fear.
The prevailing view of retirement today is that it is a reward for a lifetime of hard work. It is a time to kick back, relax, and enjoy the spoils of life. When we aim for this type of retirement, enjoyment and pleasure turn out to be our number one priority. It becomes necessary to accumulate as much as possible so that all contingencies and lifestyle goals can be satisfied. These aims and goals are inherently self-focused, and anything that threatens our accomplishment of them becomes a problem to overcome. Ironically, while freedom is the goal of this type of retirement, true freedom eludes those who follow this approach.
Why? This mentality reveals both a love of money and a fear of loss. The Bible is very clear of the dangers of loving money. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus warns us, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Jesus doesn’t say that it is difficult to serve God and money. He says it is impossible.
What will your story be?
As much as we want to be able to love money and love Jesus at the same time, we must make a choice. A retirement that focuses on maximizing our enjoyment of all we have accumulated while protecting against material loss, puts its faith in the money and not God. This is the danger of which Jesus warns. Not only does this type of focus bring fear and consumerism, but it also draws us away from God.
So, how do we experience true freedom and contentment in purposeful retirement?
Looking at the life of C.T. Studd we can learn a few things. Firstly, he put his trust in God for everything. He made decisions and aligned his life in a way that evidenced that faith.
Secondly, he exemplified contentment. Even though C.T. Studd lived with very little he was surrounded by those he loved and those who loved him. His life was rich in many things and in many ways. He did not long for more and better stuff, he simply enjoyed and shared the blessings God supplied.
Thirdly, he counted the treasures of this world as rubbish compared to the love of Christ. He understood the grace he had received and set his heart on eternity. As a result, he lived with peace, joy, and faith during the here and now. Only when we set our minds on the things to come are we able to fully enjoy the good gifts that God gives us today.
The glorious sunset
A thriving and purposeful retirement is available for everyone regardless of what their bank account says. Preparing for retirement with purpose and contentment come as a result of seeking God’s kingdom above all else. God will never leave us nor forsake us. Trusting that promise allows us to live every day of our lives, including retirement, with great power and purpose.
This article was first published by ChristianSuper.
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