Much has been written on the subject of “Finishing Well.” People of all flavors who are in my stage of life, are wondering how they can live out the remainder of their lives well. For some of us that may mean taking time to spend the resources we’ve collected by relaxing in luxurious settings. For others it may be financially scraping enough together to be able to pay the bills until we die. For most, however, our culture has determined that retirement is a worthy objective that should commence in one’s 60s. The concept of retirement was actually launched back in the 1920s with the idea of Social Security. That institution that allowed the government to help us save for our future by taxing us today and paying some of us back when we reached 60 and then 62 and now 66 and so on. The concept was that we would stop working and earning an income at those ages. I won’t take on the systemic issues related to this system but it is worthy to think about the ideological concept of retirement.
I would ask you to think about your idea of retirement. What are those things you would like to do after you cease “working?” I would like my reader to consider the concept of retirement. Dictionary.com attempts to define retirement in the following ways: (1) the act of retiring, withdrawing, or leaving; the state of being retired, (2) the act of retiring or of leaving one’s job, career, or occupation permanently, usually because of age … (5) removal of something from service or use.
For starters, I was always taught that you can’t define a term while using the term, or some derivative thereof, as part of the definition. But that aside, I come away with a couple of thoughts: (1) none of the descriptions are positive in tone or nature, (2) the definitions tell us that that those who retire, withdraw, leave, are taken out of service, (3) such descriptions align with man’s view of man, (4) none of the descriptions align with God’s view of man.
Consider for a moment, Moses and Joshua, two significant personalities whose journeys and stories are contained in five books of the Bible. Moses was approximately 80 years when he was finally prepared to be engaged in his calling. Joshua was in his 60s when he was given the mantle of leadership as the successor to Moses. They were far from being taken out of service. They were, at their ages, just ready to begin their history making journeys!
The title of this entry is Finishing Well or Running the Race. Finishing Well says a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Moses and Joshua never spoke of finishing well. They were, like the apostle Paul, running the race until they were taken from this foreign soil to their homeland. While here, every waking moment was spent in service, running the race so as to win the prize. No one pressed the pause button on their work suggesting that they have now earned the right to step aside and let others do the work.
I’m reminded of Billy Graham, who continued his international ministry until he was physically unable to carry on that schedule. Even today, at the age of 95, he is still publishing books of encouragement and demonstrating an iron will to continue serving until his last breath is taken.
Some will say that they are simply worn out in their current work. Perhaps that is true, perhaps the work you are doing today is preparing you for another work to be undertaken tomorrow. You have been given many gifts and abilities from which others need to benefit. Be open to what the Lord has for you beyond today’s work. Moses spent 40 years in Egypt in the house of Pharaoh, the next 40 in Midian serving his father-in-law, and then after these years of preparation, was commanded by God to free His people from the hand of Pharaoh and lead them to the Promised Land.
In the same way, we should not let a government program like Social Security define our productive years. God never spoke of retirement. He always had a place for those willing to serve Him. Are you readying yourself to finish or are you going to continue running the race? Your children and your grandchildren need you to continue running the race. There are many who you have not yet met who need the wisdom of your experience and your years of walking with God as a person of faith. Nearly every week I meet someone whom I am able to engage by listening to their life stories and offering a word of encouragement.
Run the race, friend! If there is nothing else that you can find to do, be that man or that woman who has a “war room” and fight the good fight until God takes you home.
Be blessed and be a blessing!