Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Seasons of Life

     As many of you know by now, I have retired...not from housework which is never ending but from working outside the home PLUS housework.  It has been a rich season of life as I have worked alongside my husband over the years in his optometric practice.  In fact, I have had many different types of jobs at various times.  I worked in radio broadcasting, a bookkeeping department at a bank, public relations for the Ohio Optometric Association, an independent Christian book seller, an independent vitamin and health business, 21 years devoted to home educating our four children and a successful Mary Kay business.  Off and on, I worked in my husband's office as an optometric tech and insurance biller.  Now I have come to a different season in my life.  Family time, writing, reading, working in my home and continuing to serve the Lord as He leads shall be my focus.  After all, Christians do not retire from serving the Lord.
     God foreknows and foresees all things and He knows how our bodies age.  Therefore, even in the Old Testament times, God made provision for this season of life.  In Numbers 8:23-26, the Lord gave this command concerning the Levites:  "And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “This applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting. And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. They minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties.”  We see in these verses that God established a time for active duty and a time when this work shall come to an end.  Notice that the Levites continued to come to the place of worship even though they were not actively doing the physical work.
     Paul is a great example of someone who worked hard both as a tentmaker and a servant of the Lord until the time of his imprisonment.  Even then, Paul did what he was able to do in those circumstances.  He wrote great letters to the churches and continued to see those allowed to visit him during his confinement.  His forced retirement in prison brought forth even more fruit in his service for God.  We can see his attitude in Acts 20:24:  "But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."  Paul merely wanted to go on serving the Lord until he was called home to heaven.  This should be the way we approach those days when we cease from working in a job.
     Too often, there are those who think that retirement means we can withdraw from serving Christ, quit going to church, and in general, withdraw from everyone.  Even with physical limitations, however, people can still be very useful in Christian service.  I am reminded of a dear saint who has recently gone home to be with the Lord.  While she could not get out and about, she did have a blessed ministry.  She sent cards for birthdays and wedding anniversaries faithfully.  I looked forward to hearing from her each year because it was such an encouragement.
     Every one of us is called by God for a purpose according to our season of life.  As circumstances and physical changes take place, so do the types of ministries which the Lord opens before us.    We will not fully retire until our course has been completed in this world.
     For those who have retired, there is much work to be done for the kingdom and one thing we can all do daily is pray...pray for our church, our nation, our pastors, the sick and the bereaved.  We can visit nursing homes or make phone calls to encourage others or even assist in folding church bulletins.  There are endless possibilities as the Lord leads in our lives.
     I am thankful for the many years I have been able to serve in many different jobs...especially the years I had to teach our children at home.  God has been good to me and I am looking forward to the new adventures that lie ahead in this season of life.  No matter what season we are in, though, God never wants us to retire from serving Him.  We were made to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.  Selah!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What on Earth Are People Thinking?

     As we traveled home from a glorious vacation this past week, I noticed the radical change in road trips from the time when I was growing up.  My parents did a lot of driving on various family vacations, but I do not remember having as many close calls as we did on our recent trip.  People today are not very courteous nor do they signal when they attempt to change lanes.  The only way to describe their driving is aggressive as if they are mad at someone.  Several times we were nearly run off the road by people who tried to cut between us and the car in front of us when there was no room. I know we are not the only ones that experience this kind of thing.  However, looking back at my childhood trips, it seemed that people were more patient and aware of fellow travelers. In fact, there are many areas where we can observe how the tone of our society has changed.
     On a shopping trip, not long ago, I listened as a customer berated a cashier for the pricing of a certain product.  The cashier patiently explained what the special was and how this product did not qualify.  Nothing satisfied the customer.  After further argumentation she stormed out of the store vowing to tell everyone how bad this business was to those who do business there.  I could not help but feel sorry for the cashier as she was just doing her job.  She had no control over policy; yet she took all the of the anger from the customer.  I complimented her on her kindness to this person.  I know what it is like to be on the receiving end of someone's rant.  Still the question remains.  What on earth are people thinking when they drive aggressively or take their anger out on a store clerk?  What has happened to civility, good manners, kind words and looking out for our fellow man?
     Reading Scripture today, I came across a verse that seemed to answer that question in so many ways.  It comes from 2 Timothy 3:1-4:  "There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God."  Well, that about covers it all doesn't it?  Paul never minces words in what he writes by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
     Now I cannot say that these are the "last" days as no one knows, but God, when the end of time will come.  Nevertheless, I have lived long enough to see how our society has radically changed over the years.  What was unheard of twenty or thirty years ago is often a regular occurrence now like the example of the cashier in the store.  At the root of all of these behaviors, though, is sin.  There is no other explanation, and unfortunately, we are all infected with this problem of the heart.  We are selfish, and there is only one remedy that can set us free.  Only by confessing our sins and acknowledging our need for Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior can we receive a new heart by God's grace.  At that moment, not only does God give us a new heart, but He also gives us His Holy Spirit to guide us as well.  Does that mean we will never lose our temper in a store or on a highway?  No.  I wish I could say that was the case.  However, we do begin to change.
     As the Holy Spirit works in us, He produces the fruit of righteousness within us:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.  This is a big difference from the description in 2 Timothy 3:1-4.  Our goal and target is to be conformed more to Christ than to the world as believers.  The good news is that God is the one doing the work within us as we surrender to Him day by day.  I don't want to be like those drivers we encountered on our trip nor do I want to hurt another person with angry words over a product in a store.  Rather I want to demonstrate the love of Christ in what I say and do.  Therefore, let us strive to live as examples of light to those who are living and working in great darkness.  The times have changed and not for the better, but we are to be of good cheer because our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has overcome the world....and by His blood, we too shall be more than conquerors through Him.  Selah!