What a 98 year old pie maker can teach us: God’s not done with me— or you, yet
If you are reading this, God is not done with you yet. That is to say, if you have a heartbeat, if you are still here on earth instead of pushing up daisies, God can yet use you to His glory.
This past week was my birthday. I’m not 50 yet, but thus begins my 50th year on this earth. That inevitably brings reflection about where I’ve been and some consideration of how long I might have left to do whatever it is God has created, called and sent me to do.
I now have a “before I’m 50” list which necessarily needs to all get done this year. And while I might wear some people out, I’m not worn out yet!
It is my observation from reading the Bible, observing Spirit-filled people and living as long as I’ve now lived that as long as we have breath, God can use us. So how is it that we have become a society that worships comfort, leisure and an idol we call retirement? This is not to say that we should never make transitions from one kind or pace of work to another, but to think that we’re ever going to retire from Kingdom advancing work is simply not biblical.
Ever heard any of these cultural takes on retirement?
- You put in your time, this is “your time” to spend how you want.
- You’ve earned the right to retreat from the realities of the work-a-day world, enjoy the comforts of retirement with a community of like-minded, well-heeled folks like you.
- Now that you’re past your prime it’s all downhill so you’d better get the good life rolling!
- Hey gramps, it’s time for you to make way for the next generation; time for you to go out to pasture.
What does that say about “why” God made us, called us and redeemed us? Are we really so deluded as to think that it’s all about us? Have we reduced the Gospel to personal salvation and life to the sufficient accumulation of wealth so as to make it to easy street and coast from retirement to death? That’s not life! And it’s certainly not the real and full life that Jesus came to give us.
If you’ve bought into the cultural lie that your later years are to be spent in anything less than a Kingdom advancing mission then this wake up call is for you. This is prime time! You have a unique blend of wisdom, talents, experiences, and the most precious commodity of all: time.
My uncle Bill and aunt Melanie (retired people with grandkids old enough to be in college) just spent two years on the mission field in West Africa. And I don’t expect that God is done with them yet.
Barry Meguiar of car wax fame is leveraging the full force of his accumulated wealth to igniting and fanning the flame of spiritual revival in America. God is not done with him yet.
Michael is really young to be retired. He amassed a small fortune when the company he was a part of starting was bought out. He could have gone fishing but instead, he now meets each day with younger men and women who want to do well and do good as Christians in the work-a-day world.
Johnny now lives in an assisted living facility. What can he do? Well, every day he scours the newspaper and prays for people and situations where God’s intervening mercy is desperately needed. He supports missionaries around the world, including his granddaughter and her family in Central America. He’s also supporting church planters in cities where he used to live.
Jan is a retired nurse and works every day at a free clinic serving the invisible neighbors in her very affluent island setting. She could be picking up seashells and playing golf and having lunch at the club and counting down the days to glory. But she’s not. When I asked her why she said, “That’s what retired people do. I’m not retired. I’m retread.” Amen.
All of this leads me to Leo. Leo lives in Nebraska in the same house he’s lived in for more than six decades. He worked the same job for nearly 70 years. He finally retired at 92 years old when his wife of 72 years got sick and passed away. Afterward, he said he was sitting there and wondering what he should be doing, and realized “I can bake.”
Now he is 98 and bakes hundreds of pies for people in his community every year. He gives them away to those who might need a dose of cheering up or who can’t afford a luxury like a delicious pie. He said, “You don’t know what that means to a person, unless you have been poor, like I was years ago. I would have been so tickled. And my folks couldn’t even give me a pie or a cake or something. So I lived that life.”
And Leo has a mentee. She’s a 12-year-old who wants to learn this secret recipe for living a blessed life of blessing others. Leo is thus leaving a legacy when he could be sitting on his front porch rocking away the days.
What do you know how to do that you could be doing but aren’t doing because you think you’re too old or no one would be interested or you’ve bought into the lie of retirement? (Mom, you need to take the old Can-do Clinic content onto Facebook. People need to know what you know and you need to share your wisdom and wit with the next generation!)
Don’t you love people who don’t see age as particularly relevant to the possibility that God might yet use them in surprising ways? God set the example to us in Scripture: Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Zechariah, Elizabeth and many others.
Whether you’re 15, 50 or 90, if you’re reading this, God has plans! Are your plans God’s plans?
Let us never grow weary of doing all the good we might do with all the time we are given to bring all the glory to God we might before we see Him face to face! They’ll be plenty of time then for gazing upon the crystal sea and basking in the eternal glow.