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RETIRE! …. WHO ME?

June 23rd, 2014

By Barry Hatfield

(Warning: under 60-years readers must be accompanied by a retired adult)

Sydney church has a ‘men’s shed’ of sorts. It’s when a few men are working together in hall set-up before the ladies arrive. We have a short time window in which to talk, laugh and generally bump things around as men do without fear that we’ll be chastised for ‘not being nice’. Those moments are precious.

In similar vein, here’s a radical thought. Men shouldn’t be at home. At least those who’ve retired and don’t have an interest that keeps them out of their wives’ way. (I hear wives shouting agreement).

The human form ‘Man’ was meant for work. Most of us would agree. Notwithstanding, there comes a time when body and mind succumb to inevitable age-creep and the decision is made to cease employed work – or your boss decides you have become a ‘redundant’ employee and euphemistically ‘lets you go’.

What then? Are you a redundant human being? Is that the way God sees you? Obviously not. He wants us to be active, productive, permanent members of His family where the terms of tenure won’t be broken by an encroaching arbitrary age barrier. If we’re there, we’re there to stay – is how our Heavenly Father has structured His plan.

Yet in this world, Christians don’t get a free Senior’s Pass to soften the ride into what the world has come to label ‘Retirement’.

When I made that shift some years back my mind wasn’t prepared for the almost immediate change in my long-held ‘work’ mindset. From day one, the business phone calls ceased, the emails stopped filling my inbox, invitations to press conferences dried up, the requests for consulting services stopped. It was as if I’d left the planet. I was anticipating publishing deadlines disappearing — but not this isolation. My self-imposed ‘work-stoppage’ (retirement) had put me out on an age-labelled limb from which there was no climbing back to the trunk of the ‘productivity’ tree.

But we (men especially) must be willing to face the inevitable fact that we do ‘age’. It’s tough on us, we who’ve been the bread-winners for decades. We can easily feel we’ve been cheated by time and in turn are cheating our families by not leaving for work each day like we used to.

When I handed in my National Heavy Truck licence that had allowed me to road-test and report on new truck-trailer combinations I had made the decision because my body and mind don’t run at the speed they used to. And I don’t want to become a risk to others.

I’m now limited to a God-ordained winding down body. After seven years isolation from a working life-time of productive (and exciting) man-style activity I’ve accepted the fact that I’m retired — yet not retired from life.

The challenge for all of us creeping over the age-hill like a heavy truck climbing a steep grade, is that we tend to only see the grinding slope ahead of us. It can be a hard, un-rewarding slog at times, knowing that it won’t get easier. Unless, of course, we ‘see’, in faith, what awaits on the other side. Unlike most of the world, we don’t need technology to see ‘over the hill’.

In place of a GPS screen we have Christ’s own assurance that whether currently we are human men or women – our new spiritual bodies will be a reflection not so much of how we’ve held a particular identity in this first life, but of the continuing identity and realm of Christ throughout our ‘second’ and eternal life.

For we older men, who’ve focused on jobs and careers and responsibilities — this isn’t easy to get our heads around at times. We still want to join up and talk about ‘manly’ issues — without solving the problems, I might add. Fact is, we can’t. Only the power of God can. We can but want to be an active part of what He’ll be doing with us …forever.

Men! Good news! There won’t be any retirement when you have a spirit body. Life won’t wind-down because of advancing years. And there won’t be any stiff backs, sore knees, weak muscles and creaky joints. No un-utilised talents. No un-realised dreams. No redundancies!

What you will be as a spirit-‘man’ in the image of God, and as a brother of Christ, will be validated – no matter what role Christ assigns you. Others (and yes, that includes resurrected family members!) won’t question your life, times, work, enjoyment and worship in Christ. You will be you– as Christ wants you to be in and around Him.

Whatever position, involvement, challenges, responsibilities, and opportunities we’ve had as men in this life will, in the life to come, be so far removed from the reality of living as glorified members of God’s Family in His Kingdom and all its astronomically gargantuan (see dictionary) purpose throughout eternity, that the frustrations of the few short bumbling, stumbling years of so-called ‘retirement living’ here and now will evaporate before our new eyes, when the dark glasses are removed and we see, for the first time, clearly, what our ‘real’ life will be in Christ.

(Now to mow the back lawn!)

Over 60's

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