As we begin our ninth term of service in an Asian country, it’s time for a “vision check.” How far does my vision extend? Where is the finish line? Is it at a place called “retirement” or at the time when I am called away from this earth to meet the Lord? (Mind you, I’m not THAT old yet, but people do ask about our plans.)
First of all, maybe I should start from that end and work backward. When I see Jesus face to face, I want more than anything to hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
In order for that to happen, what shall I do? Do I start checking out, phasing out, flaking out, disengaging? Or do I gear up and give it all I’ve got till I get a definite message from on high that it’s time to do something different? I need to keep reminding myself that God’s call on my life can’t be compared to his plan for others who go on to different things for one reason or another—or, on the other hand, to others a generation older than me who are still going full steam ahead.
Moses, Caleb and Joshua are examples of lives lived to the fullest right up to the end. Their greatest years were arguably their last ones. And can you imagine the apostle Paul enjoying his last years in retirement in a Roman villa? No, but a Roman prison instead! Not ordering more pink lemonade but asking for more parchment on which to write God’s words to people like you and me! Not playing but praying—wrestling in prayer for hundreds of believers he knew, loved, and poured his life into, even while in prison.
Now, what was that about retirement? I don’t know. I have a feeling that my attention should be on growing, reaching out, and giving all I’ve got for the long haul. As Paul said,
“I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith!” (NET Bible)
Or as I saw once on a T-shirt:
“Keep on working for the Lord. The salary isn’t much but the rewards are out of this world!”