One week from tomorrow, on Feb. 19th, I will celebrate my 65th birthday. We are having family around to help mark the occasion and we even have Janet’s sisters and several others coming in from out of town. As happens each year, I become a little reflective as my birthday approaches – and it is even more pronounced this year as I arrive at this landmark year.
When I was a child, I never thought about age 65, except that it was the age when people were supposed to retire. I think it was so far in the future that I never even imagined what it would be like to actually achieve such a milestone. I never gave much thought to the financial considerations, either. I just figured that sooner or later I would finish school, get a job, work almost 45 years and retire – with money to spare.
I thought I would be a medical doctor or a bioengineer – designing surgical tools to be used in the operating room. In fact, I started college at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle in the Engineering School. But life throws us twists and turns and those, coupled with our father’s diagnosis of cancer, altered my career path and I suddenly found myself on an entirely different trajectory in the business world.
I’m not complaining – I believe that God had a plan even if I didn’t know what it was and sooner or later I would find what I was supposed to do. But an interesting thing happened. Until fifteen years ago, I never really enjoyed working – in reality it was quite a chore for me. I guess I am one of those people who just had to gut it out for almost three decades before I found something I felt fulfilled with. As I look back at those years, they now seem to be a blur in the background.
I am fortunate to enjoy what I currently do, coaching and working with teams since I completed my seminary training almost fifteen years ago. And that, attending seminary I mean, has been one of the great joys of my life! So I find myself in a strange space – with corporate skills in addition to a seminary background. That unique combination of learning opportunities has given me conduits into some of the most exciting work I have ever done – promoting God in the workplace.
But, like many of the folks I have coached throughout the years, I find myself asking questions about the future. I still wish to work some, but not on a full time basis. And I continue to wrestle with the thought of writing a book but my heart just isn’t in it right now. So I continue to wonder what God has in store for the next chapter of my life.
Make no mistake, I don’t think that I am done contributing by any means. I just don’t want to arrive at age 65 like a bug hitting a windshield. I would rather ease into in. And believe it or not, our government has had a hand in making my transition a little easier. That’s because I filed for Medicare several months ago and found out that it starts on the 1st of the month that you turn 65. Imagine that! So even though I am still only 64, I started on the program February 1st.
That has made things a little easier for me – kind of like arriving in stages – a little bit at a time – easing into 65… The verse for this evening is familiar to most of you because it affirms that God has a plan and that He knows what He is doing. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians tells us, in Phil. 1:4-6, “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
That means that God will continue working in us all the days of our lives. I’m counting on that. While I may be in a time of rest, I don’t expect that I will stay there. My encouragement this evening is that God wants us to stay alert and get in sync with His desires for our lives. And while God is rarely early, He is never late with His plan for us. So, in the meantime, I will enjoy the space that I am currently in and wait till I hear that still small voice of God. My prayer is that each of us can revel in the place that God has placed us and that we will forever be responsive to His call on each of our lives. Because even those of us who are older still have much to contribute and that’s a blessing! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…