Legend has it that retirement is the dream. Glossy pictures and fast-paced videos paint retirees as jet-setters at play. We see them as enjoying life with games, grandchildren, family, and friends. And many of us work hard to set up future playtime.
“6Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” [Deuteronomy 31:6]
After wandering in the desert for many years, the Israelites could now go to the land promised to them. But Moses announces he will not go with them. Imagine the shock rippling through the people. How can we go without Moses? Why is God taking him away? We trust him. We know him. Who will lead us?
In Deuteronomy 311, Moses encourages them to look past their fears and step into their promise. Leaving a place you have worked for many years can be like that. When I left friends, colleagues, leaders, paycheck, and security behind, I felt anticipation and fear. The chosen ones of Israel teach me something here. To be strong and of good courage. To not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord my God goes with me into the future. His promise awaits.
In these cases a promise has to be won. God does not hand the promise to us on a platter. It takes work, diligence and yes, a fight to get the treasure. Nothing of value, including retirement, is without effort.
Looking around at my new ‘colleagues’, I find the picture differs from the hype. I thought I had prepared myself for the transition. Here is the shocking truth: Life has changed little. Life is still crazy busy. Our general needs and concerns don’t change that much. It is the journey that changes.
I must warn you, today’s reality is different. That glossy photo is just a moment in the swimming pool playing with the grand-kids. It is not everyday life. A fixed income dries up quickly when the politicians and corporations want to raise costs and taxes. Add on the inflation factor and the dream dims. Then tyranny and discrimination have raised their ugly heads. Wide swaths of people are in the crosshairs for the adversary. They want us, the pesky older generation, silent or out of the way. The adversary intends to wipe out knowledge.
What does God’s word say? “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them.” Today, we who believe face the giants. Just like the Israelites entering the promised land.
Now, after five months and the collapse of the American dream, I began to question if I had made the right decision. What if I made a mistake? Being retired means you are on our own. I have a new admiration for our elders. It takes courage to face the world and trust in the unseen God. Over the last two years we have found that the risk is that the world may not stay stable and our leaders might turn against us.
With all of this on my mind and wondering if I had made a mistake, I went to my Lighthouse last Sunday. The gospel was the ‘poor rich man’2 who did everything right yet could not give up his riches. In our priest’s homily, he pointed out it is not always money that God asks us to give up. Then he asked, “What will you give up to follow Jesus?” I felt the Spirit rest on my shoulders and whisper, ‘You gave up your career and security. Will you let it go? Or will you return? Who will you follow? Me or security?’
At that moment, I realized what God is asking of me. This is a hard one. My entire career, I craved and fought for security for myself and my family. I still crave for my family to be safe. I also realized to receive the promise of a future and a hope,3 we have to fight for it! We are not alone in the battle. The Word says, “He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Since His Word says He goes with you, don’t you think it’s worth the fight? I do and I answered the Lord, “Yes, I will give up my career and security to take this adventure journey with You. I follow You.”
Please pray with me:
Oh my King and Lord, help me follow you. Be my Refuge and my Shield in this dangerous world. Guide me in my journey with You. I love You with all my heart and soul. Teach me Your ways and how to fight for Your Promise. I give up my (insert your most valued item – career and security) to follow You into the future You have planned for Me. Thank You Father for this future and hope. In Jesus’ name, Amen. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.”
Be of good courage! The Lord goes with you,
1Deuteronomy 31 verses 1-8: 1Then Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. 2And he said to them: “I am one hundred and twenty years old today. I can no longer go out and come in. Also the Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross over this Jordan.’ 3The Lord your God Himself crosses over before you; He will destroy these nations from before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua himself crosses over before you, just as the Lord has said. 4And the Lord will do to them as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites and their land, when He destroyed them. 5The Lord will give them over to you, that you may do to them according to every commandment which I have commanded you. 6Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” 7 Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. 8And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” [New King James Version]
2 Mark 10:17-30
3 Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” [New King James Version]