I love the famous song of the 60’s that mirrored the words written by King Solomon in the book of the Bible, Ecclesiastes – “For everything there is a season, and time for every matter under heaven” (ESV). Looking back at the major experiences of my life from my fourth quarter, I quite easily recognize that there are indeed “seasons.” Childhood, early adulthood, middle age, and finally, late adulthood or the “golden years”.
Certainly, there are specific concerns within each season of life. From my perspective, however, it seems as though the challenges faced in the later years of life are more difficult. And what we face can easily cause our golden years to lose their luster.
In our younger years, our lives included much that could be challenging: the juggling of kids, careers, church, and other extracurricular activities. But amidst those busy days and (often) sleepless nights, we were largely sustained through good health, easily rechargeable energy, and enthusiasm over the lives we were building and influencing.
And then, seemingly overnight, the season changed. We retired from careers we had spent decades building. Our children became adults with families of their own, and perhaps even moved away. We found ourselves attending more funerals than weddings. Even our place to serve and engage in our churches began to diminish.
But perhaps the most difficult issues to navigate during these years stem from the many changes in relationships we once held dear. Some have become deeper and richer over time. Others have been lost due to the pressures, conflicts, lack of proximity and differences of opinions and lifestyles.
My purpose in detailing these challenges is not meant to discourage or depress you. Rather, I want to highlight these challenges so that we ask, “How do we have true fulfillment and lasting significance in our retirement years?” Our culture tries to convince us that the retirement season is now “our time”. Wiktionary even defines the golden years as the time to be spent in leisure and personal enjoyment.
This is not what I find in the Scriptures. Yes, we may have more time for leisure than we did in our younger years. But it is my prayer that both our increased time AND the challenges of this season, will shift our gaze to what is of eternal value. Let’s choose to view the challenges of our later years as gifts that bring an increased awareness of our neediness and dependence on God. ONLY our relationship with God, and His Word and promises can be a solid anchor for our lives. They alone provide ongoing joy and purpose, even as our bodies and activity levels may continue to decline.
I am regularly asking myself if what I want to do has eternal value. What truly matters in this season of my life? Do I value what God values? I confess, that even in my 4th quarter, my human desires, at times, don’t naturally want to do those things. And the additional effort this season requires, can bring make it even more difficult!
Yet we are called to resist our selfish tendencies and desires and be controlled by the Spirit. We have a choice – in EVERY season of life. As the quote says, “People don’t change with time, people change by choice.” What steps must you make to ensure your current season of life bears much fruit? John 15:8 says that when we produce much fruit, we are God’s true disciples and bring Him great glory.