4 “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. John 9:4 (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash
I’ve filled out paperwork with the Teachers’ Retirement System, and people have been asking me if I’m looking forward to retirement. I tell them I don’t think of it as “retiring”; I’m merely going to “draw my pension.”
First of all, it’s clear I don’t have enough money to retire to the beaches of Aruba for the rest of my life. I have a feeling I (like most people nowadays) will be employed at something or another to make a little money from here on out.
But in addition to that, I don’t think I’ll be retiring because I hardly ever see a Christian person who actually retires. Some people continue to work as they get older, and in the midst of it the Lord takes them home to be with Him. Others leave their jobs and then find themselves in various states of sickness and disability as they live out their senior years. And, something I’ve seen over and over is that people who are fortunate enough to retire in good health spend their days driving those who are less fortunate to doctors’ appointments! In real life, most retired couples don’t look like the ones starring in vitamin commercials.
I hope to rest and relax a little more in the next few months. But I don’t think I’ll ever really retire — because I’m not sure if Christians are supposed to retire. St. Paul said “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) That means all human beings (including us) are a work of God. And the purpose for which God made us was to do work for Him.
My grandmother was a wonderful example of this — a pattern of life devoted to works of Christian service. She spent her days and years serving her Saviour and His followers by the daily humble labor of kitchen and home. When she was 93 years old, she called me and said, “John, if you’ll come home and see me, I’ll make you some chicken and dressing.” (Her recipe and skill were world-famous.) At Thanksgiving that year, my mother told me my grandmother had indeed made the chicken and dressing herself. In spite of suffering from compression fractures in her spine, my grandmother had done all of the planning and measuring and combining. My mom just had to help with some of the stirring and lifting.
I watched my grandmother work steadily, as much as she was able, until she finally passed away 3 days before her 95th birthday. She always told me, “John, it’s just like the old song says. ‘We’ll work ‘til Jesus comes and then be gathered home.”
So, that’s what we all need to plan to do — to work until Jesus comes. The more I think about it, I’m not sure we’ll even get to “retire” in Heaven because we’ll be happy to serve our God forever. Still, it’s good to know that at least we’ll be able to get a little rest when we get there.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 31 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, where he used to teach Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the weather can’t decide if it is Summer or Winter.) Their kids include Spencer (age 25), his wife Madeline (age 25), and Seth (age 22), and his wife Leanne (age 21). You can send him a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.