June 1st of 2020 I retired from 10 years of Nursing. I worked with the best Health Care Professionals (in a local small-town clinic that was nevertheless remarkably busy), who were also caring and wonderful people. I miss them and of course the many patients who became friends over time. But retirement to the Glory of God is not the same as retirement promoted by our culture in which you remove yourself from all activity and just putter around, eat drink and be merry - after all you deserve it!
As an imager of God, you and I are tasked with being not only image bearers but being co-regents with God in creation. We help shape this reality through prayer and action. Retirement is a new season in life which like all previous seasons prepares us for the next. My retirement God willing could extend 20-30 years. We need community and we focus on kingdom building as a representative of Christ as we seek also to help others flourish.
Psalm 119:91 “91 By your appointment they stand this day,for all things are your servants.” This Psalm makes it clear that everything in creation serves God one way or another.
Proverbs 6:6 6 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.
Luke 12:24 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!
Matthew 6:28 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,
The above verses although they point to one specific part of creation in more general terms, we are looking at what Christ has made what he has done and what he holds together. As we look at Ants, and Birds and Lillie’s we are fascinated by God’s creativity and imagination and we learn.
I am 64 going on 65 now and if God wills it, I will move into my seventies and eighties. I have learned that the older I get the less I know about anything. My ignorance about myself and life is great. Yes, God has given me wisdom and experience, but we are all limited and finite and our time here is brief. I have been an incorrigible Bibliophile since birth. I love books not only for what they bring to our lives in the form of knowledge and creativity but for their ability to take us back in time into the lives of those long departed. Our worldview is not unique nor better than those before. We are sinful and live in a world of futility devolving toward Christ’s Second coming.
Our books need not be an idol, although they can be yet if we understand that all things point to Christ and we seek him in our reading.
So, I sit looking at all my shelves of books and piles of books realizing that for all the books I read there will be thousands more I will never get to read and understand! Like many people my age I love to read and read and read. My cataracts are making reading a bit more difficult until I get them removed in the next year or two. So why do I read? Besides being committed to being a lifelong learner I am looking also to finding some facet of Christ that I have missed, something I can turn into Fruit. Yes, all of us will go to our grave ignorant of much but I will endeavor as my aging self and Christ permits to learn all I can knowing that in the life to come I will remember what I have learned now as I add to it the knowledge of an eternity to come.
Ephesians 2:7 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Jonathan Edwards has stated that “the knowledge of the saints will increase to all eternity” (The Miscellanies, 105). Can you imagine for all the ages and eternity to come our understanding, perceptions and ideas will increase and continue to do so? This will reveal more and more aspects of God’s excellency. O what joy will we find in that!
What will God choose to preserve of all our books and written works in eternity? In his book Heaven Randy Alcorn wrote a chapter entitled “Will What Is Written on Earth Survive?” He asks, “Will you see once more the letter of encouragement you wrote to your teenage son?” We can hope and know that God will preserve all that glorifies him.
Ted Kooser, American Poet Laureate said it best:
“As in the dented spaceship of my seventies (shaking a little and leaking water), I travel the endless reaches of my ignorance, all the books I have not read, and never will, come rolling at me out of the dark like a hail of asteroids. And now and then an entire library, with a glowing trail of checkout slips, just misses hitting me by inches. (The Wheeling Year: A Poet’s Field Book, 4)”
So, for those of us who trust in Christ our life does not end and our reading will not end either!
John 5:24 24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life.”