When I retire
Now this is a subject I have not considered. And yet 2 friends are retiring this month and 2 others are going part time in anticipation of retirement soon. Is retirement a biblical concept? I don’t think so, but I don’t think that makes it wrong unless when you retire you actually retreat from the front lines. In Numbers 9:24-25 there is a reference for the Levites to work from age 25 to 50 and then retire from serving in the temple. I kind of hope no one reads this verse or applies it! We do not need any more excuses from old people that they “served their time” or that they are “too old” to minister. Nor do we need any young people to have reason to marginalize or devalue the generation before them. Actually, it is bad hermeneutic to base an entire theology on one verse. The only other verse I can think of is Prov. 6 which reminds us that the winter is coming and to look to the ant, who works hard to prepare for the winter (which I guess we could interpret for old age). Storing resources for the fall and winter seasons of life is smart and logical. The idea of retirement is really a modern benefit of the Social Security act and I cannot imagine that Charles Ingalls or any other working class person ever even contemplated the idea.
My parents are my heroes. They actually chose to retire early so they could redesign their lives around ministry; they went back to school and then they went to the mission field. They continued to advance the kingdom and not retreat from it! Now I am not a runner – I actually hate running! But the idea of a marathon like life. Paul tells us to run in such a way that we can win (1 Cor. 9:24) and a good runner knows that it is important to get off to a good start. Similarly it is important to plan for later NOW! Then, a runner needs to pace themselves just like we have to plan and pace out our savings and spending. To win a race a runner has to pick up the pace as they get nearer to the end and finally sprint to the finish line. Oh I hope I don’t ever stop running the race, but can kick it into high gear and sprint to the finish line!
I think I have some vision of what I think retirement will be like but from what most people say, it is nothing like the way they imagined it. For example, I imagine I will have time on my hands. I will no longer have a 45 minute commute to work. I won’t have to put up with entitled coworkers who think that there is too much work to do and they have no idea about how easy they have it! I imagine I will have time to exercise, read, scrapbook, learn a new language (or at least brush up on my Spanish). I will retrain my musical skills with the guitar, piano and clarinet. I will travel – a LOT! I will finally write that book. I will throw tea parties and go the extra mile for all my friends. Yeah – right….
Reality will set in and exercise will still be at the bottom of my priority list and I will still have pains in my joints and all manner of excuses. I will miss my friends and colleagues and will wish I could interact and stay in their world and culture, even on the fringe. I will still have books I need to read and pictures will still be in boxes, but now I will not have a reason to read the book and I will have no idea who it is in the picture! I will probably not travel because I won’t be willing to go without a suitcase and be unwilling to pay extra to take one! I will still brew tea, but no one will come to a party past 11 am because they can’t handle the caffeine and I probably won’t be out of bed until noon. So much for that idea! It will be easier to listen to my kids play instruments anyway. Well, I think retirement will be an adjustment, which is an understatement.