Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Empty Nester/Retirement (from work) (09/10/09)
TITLE: It Won't Be To Florida
By Marty Wellington
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“There is only one reference in the Bible concerning retirement as it relates to the temple priests of the Old Testament. Numbers 8:25-26 reads: ‘But at the age of fifty years they shall retire from service in the work and not work any more. They may, however, assist their brothers in the tent of meeting, to keep an obligation; but they themselves shall do no work. Thus you shall deal with the Levites concerning their obligations.’”
Dumbfounded, I sat there, in my Biblical financial class wondering how all the others in my class would react to this new truth. My heart was racing and I felt strangely uncomfortable. I could feel that most in our group were also fidgety and it wasn’t long before a heated discussion ensued.
“You mean I could’ve retired at 50? Man, why didn’t anyone tell me?”
“Hey, Fred. You’re not a Levite. I don’t think this passage applies to you.”
“Or to any of us for that matter, huh Doug?”
“I thought we were supposed to enjoy our retirement?”
One older gentleman looked angry. “I’ve worked hard all my life. I deserve to enjoy my retirement and that’s just what I’m gonna do.”
I had to admit that the same thoughts were churning in my mind, but I rarely spoke my mind in large groups. Instead, I internalized everything and stewed over my frustrations. Admittedly not the most productive type of behavior, but after 61 years I doubted if I could stop now.
It wasn’t long before our leader Doug Mathison jumped into the fray in an attempt to get the conversation back on a more positive note.
“Now, friends I think you’ve all got some legitimate concerns and questions. We have to distinguish between what society has been telling us and what God would have us do with our retirement years. And no, Fred, you're not a Levite. Let’s seek the Lord on this matter. I think we’ll find an answer.”
Doug’s eyes twinkled, but I could also sense his exasperation with our class. I don’t think he was accustomed to dealing with such a cantankerous bunch of almost-retirees.
“I think this discussion is going to warrant another session next Sunday. During the week, I would like all of you to earnestly spend time praying for God’s direction in this matter. Seek Him. He won’t disappoint.”
I breathed a silent sigh of relief now that the conflict had subsided. And then wondered about my own situation and how I would apply this new truth to my retirement plans.
After my husband’s death a couple of years ago, I knew that I was set for life. My husband had been a wise investor and, coupled with my retirement money, there would be no more money worries for me. I had planned to travel, help the grandkids, and just “play catch-up” with all those hobbies I never seemed to have time for during the work week.
The next day dawned and with it the beginning of my normal work week. As I padded about my way-too-large house, I was reminded of the Sunday School lesson and my need to focus on God’s direction for my retirement. Hhhmmm?? Re-tire-ment. I needed to study that word more thoroughly. I knew “retire” meant to “rest” but as I examined the dictionary definitions, I noticed something else very different.
def. 1. To withdraw, as for rest or seclusion.
2. To withdraw from one’s occupation, business, or office; stop working.
3. To fall back or retreat, as from battle.
4. To move back or away; recede.
5. To take out of circulation.
Then, the word “retirement” was described as “withdrawal into privacy or seclusion.”
Was that the real meaning behind retirement? To withdraw, to retreat into seclusion?
I shook my head. No, it couldn’t be. Yet when I thought about my friends’ lives, that’s what I almost always saw. They slept late, walked laps at the mall, and played bridge. Well, not all of them, but many reveled in rest and relaxation.
I had no intention of retreat or withdrawal. Hadn’t Christ called me into battle? No, I wasn’t going to fall back, give up or move away. Nope. When 62 or 65 roll around, I will be going somewhere . . . and it won’t be to Florida.
I could hardly wait until next Sunday. For once, I was going to have plenty to say.
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