With my inevitable move toward retirement, I find that I have more time to do the things that I enjoy rather than having to dedicate so much of the day to work. But don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to sit idly in a rocking chair and watch the world pass me by. The last several weeks, in particular, have been filled with appointments, primarily with people I have met through ministry, for breakfast, coffee or lunch.
Last week, I taught a group of folks who are in the midst of career transition and it was a joy to help them. It reminded me of how much I love to engage folks and help them get from where they are to where God created them to be. I can’t think of a more noble purpose for my life than that initiative. The leader of the group, Dale, is a fine man who has been a friend of mine for more than thirty years – and we started out as competitors! Yet, God, in His infinite wisdom, leveraged our combined skill sets to help people in need. Whenever he calls me for help, I leap at the chance to get engaged; and each time I am better for having had the experience.
Then, this week, I have spoken with folks that I have not heard from in years. For starters, I was referred to help a man who sat in one of the entrepreneurship classes I taught almost twenty years ago. I had pretty much forgotten the details of our association but Rick quickly reminded me of the impact that my class had on his life. Suddenly, it all came back to me. And to think that he picked up the phone and called me for help was something that I welcomed but never expected. We spoke for nearly an hour and by the time that we hung up, I had given him several ideas on things he could do as he looks at the next chapter of his life. I pray that his transition to the next season of his career will go smoothly. Once again, I was blessed by the renewal of a relationship from long ago.
I also spoke with Gene, a seminary classmate of mine who graduated with his Th.D. (Doctor of Theology) on the same day I received mine. While my field of expertise was in career transition, he is a pastor/teacher who is a subject matter expert, assuming there is such a thing, in endtimes theology – otherwise known as Eschatology. This is the study of the return of Christ, the thousand year reign and our entry into eternity. Needless to say, it is an incredibly dense subject to study.
For years, we taught at a Bible college together – but Gene still teaches and I went back into the corporate consulting world close to fifteen years ago. I am a Guest Lecturer in his classes periodically and it is always a blessing to engage with him in deep theological conversations. I never fail to learn something from Gene and our conversations are always filled with rich dialogue.
During our most recent conversation this afternoon, he asked about another friend who worked with us years ago. After we completed our call, I picked up the phone and called our friend in Dallas, a man I have not spoken to in many years. Erv immediately answered the phone and, after a warm greeting, we had a terrific conversation – the years were erased as we engaged in catching up. I heard about his wife, their grandchildren, retirement, selling their home, moving to another neighborhood and all the other important things, health and otherwise, that have been important chapters in their lives, and the lives of their family members, since we last spoke. It’s amazing to me how old friends are able to bridge the gap of time that has elapsed and pick up where we left off – even if it was years ago.
There have been other conversations from the past that have recently come to the forefront as well. But by now, I am sure that you get the idea. My life is rich with longstanding friendships but sometimes I forget to continue to invest in them. That’s on me…
The verse for tonight is particularly appropriate in light of all the remarkable communications and conversations I have had, from all over the country, the past several weeks. The apostle John, in his third epistle, tell us in 3 John 14, “I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.”
God is thrilled when we keep up our relationships and rekindle those friendships that may have lapsed over the years. That’s because we are all part of God’s family and we are stronger when we combine our gifts for the advancement of the Kingdom of God here on earth. My prayer is that we may all keep up our old friendships and that we may be blessed by those experiences. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…