I meet people in different places during the week and often the question comes, "Are you still at High Falls?" My reply is, "Yes, still there and enjoying it very much." Next question..."When are you going to really retire?" That one is a little more difficult to answer as I do not think of retirement in the same way that some do. I simply reply that my granddad always said it was better to "wear out than it was to rust out." I know too many people who have retired and the rusting process begins soon after employment ends and apathy sets in. Some of the most vital and involved people I have known in my years of ministry are people who should have retired fifteen years ago but they still are on the move, active, involved and enjoying all the things they do. One of my friends at Hurley Church, Mr. Bower, was 95 and told me that he continued to learn in worship and he enjoyed his time as God had given that to him. But you are retired, was my reply and he would say, "maybe retired but not yet tired." He had a beautiful garden every year... he collected stamps and coins from all over the world...he was active in the Lions Club and never missed a Sunday at church. You would see him everywhere...at the post office...at church dinners...at programs and plays that were part of the school or the community. Ed was a model of what retirement means; at least should mean... to be able to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, and to enjoy it along the way. I guess that's where I am at in my "retirement." Doing what I like to do and enjoying it along the way, as I have always enjoyed the ministry and all it allowed me to do along the way. I LIKE what I am doing and enjoy worship, the church, the people and all the ramifications of what I have been doing for a long time.
So, when are you going to retire poses an interesting question. A minister friend of mine wrote me that God has no retirement plan on this earth, only in heaven...Remember, he wrote, Moses was never offered the possibility of retirement by God. Go back and read the OT and see how long the prophets and priests were employed by God. There is always the "possibility' of retirement and the RCA sees that at the age of 70 when we are told we have to retire from our position and seek other ways to serve Christ and the Church, such as a Contract Pastor. Retired, but not retired... sort of a confusing concept in many ways. Yet, it gives people like me a different perspective as to where I can serve and how I can continue to serve the God who has called me. New people: new faces: new encounters: new challenges and new opportunities. All of that comes with retirement in the RCA. I can only hope that as others approach that age of 70 they have some of the same encounters that I have had and continue to have in High Falls. Our bodies may slow down a bit and a few more aches and pains, but all in all, most of us are in pretty good shape and I firmly believe that if we are willing, God will use us in new and exciting ways in His kingdom. I read nowhere in the Good Book that God is going to cast us aside like an old shirt, but that He will use us in a multitude of ways. I need to listen to an old man in the temple waiting to see the Son of God--I need to hear the prayers of an old woman named Hannah as she asks for a son in her old age and then praises God as she gives him back to God. Age is not a factor but willingness to serve really is. God will use any of us only as much as we allow Him to find things for us to do.
I can name (but I am not going to) people in the High Falls Church that God is using in new and different ways, as they are willing to serve Him... My philosophy is that if we are willing, He will use us, for as long as we are able to be used. Then He simply blesses us for all that we have given to Him along the way. Remember, even a cup of cold water given in His name honors Him... The people of the High Falls Church, you and me, can be used by God to bring honor to Him, but we need to be willing to give and willing to be used. Try it, if you have not done so, and it will surprise you in many ways as to what God is willing to share with you if you are willing to share with Him. Ready? Or waiting? He is already ready and He is waiting too. Isaiah 40:29--He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted, but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not be faint. Are YOU retired?