We are three weeks into “the rest of our lives.” The world calls it “retired.” I’m calling it “repurposed” and “redeployed.” I am not in denial, at least not severely. Things have changed. Quite suddenly, the volume of email has diminished, blank spaces on the calendar have multiplied, and the sense of demand and urgency has relaxed. Where I spend my time, and how much of it I spend there, is different than before. When we rise from sleep (and where we sleep for that matter) now depends on things different than before. We have just as many friends as before but can no longer be “of use” to them as before. 😊 Things have changed, to be sure. But not the most important things.
The most important things remain. And there are a multitude of them. Here are a few of them I am pondering. Faith, hope and love remain, with the greatest being love. The One who is the same yesterday, today and forever remains. The steadfast love of this One remains. The call to follow this One remains, as do the primary demands and consequences of that call. The fact remains that I did not choose, but rather have been chosen, to live and love in the company of the One whose life is indestructible and whose love is unconquerable, the One whose life and love are from everlasting to everlasting, enveloping and empowering my/our life together. And, I am/we are “complete” in this One—whatever the external circumstances or internal dynamics of our lives at any given moment.
So, I insist, not “retired” as commonly defined and as the new default setting for “the rest of our lives.” Rather, “repurposed” and “redeployed.”
Here’s another thing that has not changed (though my awareness and appreciation is now adjusting to it). “The rest of our lives” is meant to be far longer, grander and more glorious than what has preceded it, which in a sense could be regarded as “preliminaries” we have now completed.
- If God is eternal, and our lives are in God,
- If the full and complete embodiment of the eternal God is in Jesus our Lord, and
- If our lives—really and truly—are (hidden) in him to be revealed fully only upon his final return and coronation as Lord of the Kingdom that shall not pass away …
- “The rest of our lives” will always be more than what precedes it, and
- “The rest of our lives” will always draw us to become more brilliantly ourselves in Christ than we’ve ever been, and
- “The rest of our lives” will present us with opportunities and outcomes that have eternal consequence!
Consequently, two Pauline exhortations capture my attention and call for response in this season of repurposing and redeploying. First, the Apostle urges Timothy: “don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity,” (1 Tim. 4:12). It occurs to me that Jesus-following folk who are no longer “young,” must likewise not allow their age or, more to the point, the assumptions and biases of others or themselves with respect to age, to obscure their missional opportunities. Whatever our age, we remain models and practitioners of Christ-centered living and loving. Good models and adept practitioners or not.
Second, Paul tells a much younger Timothy, “Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when … “ (1 Tim. 4:14). Age is no respecter of persons when it comes to inducements toward neglect. Younger people may feel they have little opportunity to use their gifts. But the same could be true for older people. Both could feel they have little opportunity. Our call, however, is not conditioned on such things, on opportunities we may or may not perceive. Gifts have been given, and the One who gave us gifts did so for a reason. Trusting God with our lives, whether “young” or “old,” includes trusting that the gifts we’ve been given will serve God’s purposes. They will if we don’t neglect them but use them, however and whenever we have opportunity.
I’d like to think that “the rest of our lives” could actually turn out to be the point of it all, and the “really good part” we’ve been waiting for all along.