Monday, October 24, 2016

Living As I Have Never Lived Before

I am living as I have never lived before.  This thought overwhelms me this morning.  Perhaps this statement is true of every season of life, but I was never so much aware of it in those other seasons, because of the hustle and bustle, as I am now in retirement.  I am free to set my own schedule and plan my own day. There are no meetings that I must attend, no place I have to be, no outside demands upon me, other than those I choose to take upon myself.  There are, of course, responsibilities.  I must pay the monthly bills, tend to the lawn and gardens, maintain our home, and a host of other similar tasks, but these are all done on my schedule.  I am living as I have never lived before.

It has taken six years for me to adjust to this new chapter in my life, to live as I have never lived before.  It was not an easy adjustment in the beginning.  I struggled with what seemed like “emptiness” after years of being engaged in ministering to people which demanded all I had to give of my time, my self, and my energy.  I have since come to realize that ministry of that sort was imposed upon me by my own expectations and by those of others. It is not how much we do, or how busy we are,  or what position we may hold that defines us or a vocation.  Once I realized that I had not retired from my vocation (my commitment)  and that I was still in every sense a priest, pastor, minister, I began living as I have never lived before.  It was, as the Apostle Paul wrote, “Like a new birth.” 

“The idea that the service to God should have to do only with a church, altar, singing, and the like,” wrote Martin Luther, “is without a doubt but the worst trick of the devil,” suggesting that service to God can take place anywhere and in many different ways.  Dr. Frank Laubach helped me with his words:  “Clearly, clearly, my job here is not to go to the town plaza and make proselytes; it is to live wrapped in God, trembling to his thoughts, burning with his passion.”  And so it is, my vocation, even in retirement, to be a priest (as we are all called to be).  “A priest is at least meant to be one who cannot live for himself, but for others; who is so hurt by the sufferings and sorrows of his fellows [and the world] that he cannot get it out of his mind, but has to go to God on their behalf,” and stagger back with some word of help, some word of encouragement, some word of love.  This is my call, my ministry, my service, my work in this time of retirement.  I am living as I have never lived before.

Antelope Canyon, Page AZ

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