The picture John and I had of retirement is a little different than what we imaged it would be fifty years, ago. Back then, the thought of retirement was not even on our radar. My plan was, and still is, to never get “old”! Somehow, the years have slipped away and we are there. Retired? After a sort. “Old”? It depends . . .
After yesterday’s overly energetic exercise session, I do feel older; however, as John says, “You are not as old you feel; you are as young as you think.”
Recently, we’ve been reading the book of Philippians, a letter written by Paul during the last days of his life. Because he’d been telling others about Jesus, Paul had been thrown in prison. He was writing from a cold, damp, prison cell. Nothing easy. Not the ideal retirement set up. Yet, his message is one of joy.
We are sharing insights from the life and teachings of this early Christian leader with a small group of people in our church.
I’ve also been reflecting on other New Testament books, authored by Paul, and putting together the story of this devoted Jesus-follower.
I wrote the following poem in honor of that powerful saint. It’s also a prayer response to God of how I want to live in these retirement years. I feel thankful for the strength and health given to me.
Compelled by love, not pride nor guilt,
Fearlessly pursuing Jesus;
Yet, trembling as he writes a letter
From a frigid prison cell.
Formerly a Christian-hater,
Intent on murdering them all.
Struck down by Jesus on the highway,
Blinded to receive his sight
Pharisee turned into servant,
Accepting his share of pain and hardship,
Not demanding money, well deserved,
For his acts of loving service.
Jesus, this is how I want to live.
Transform my heart; renew my mind,
So that others see your character
In what I say and in what I do.
Keep me from retiring, as I age,
Into the luxuries of this era,
Where it’s assumed I can lay down
My skills and my servant mantle.
Until my last breath on this earth,
I want to be involved in your work.
Praying, writing, listening, teaching--
Give me strength and courage, Lord.