Jeremiah 29:11-12 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. ( ESV)
When I started working there was always a thought that was in the back of my mind, “Where would I be when I retired?” It was not something I dwelt upon but there was always that thought and how to prepare for it. When I enlisted in the Air Force the question was, am I going to be a “Lifer” and serve 20-30 years and then retire. When I left the Air Force and finished college and went to work for the “Better for me than thee” company it was about employee stock options and the 401K. All of these were plans that looked toward the future and retirement. They were the same questions in each of the subsequent companies I worked for.
Then there were the supplemental plans like buying an annuities, stocks, bonds, CD’s and putting money in a money market. You could always supplement your income by doing Multi-Level-Marketing, however, you had better be good at sales. All of these were so you could theoretically live comfortably when that time came for you to officially retire.
What most people do not think about is, “what am I going to do when I actually do retire?” We all have dreams of travelling around the United States or abroad. We might think of buying a second property or moving to a different location. We might dream of doing things to enhance our lives like learning a new language, learning to golf, scuba dive, fly, or some new skill. We think of all the projects we would like to get done now that we have time. We might think of Volunteering for an organization or serving on board or maybe run for local politics.
And then the time to retire fast approaches and finally comes. The day you turn out the lights of your office, turn in the keys, take the things in your office home, say good-bye to you colleagues whom you have shared good and bad times. It is now time to adjust to a new life leaving behind what was a normal routine to start a new routine. You position has now changed. Not like getting a promotion or moving to a new job, this change is totally different.
Retiring is not easy. As much as some would like to think it will be easy, it is an adjustment both for you and your family. As I begin my retirement journey, I began making these adjustments and wondering what next. All of which I know will take time.
What I did not expect to happen as I approached retirement was the breakout of a pandemic. The CoVid-19 pandemic. All the plans leading up to the day of retirement changed. The date was written in stone because of the paperwork – no extension. And so when it was announced there would be no in-person worship, as a Priest, I knew I would not see my congregation again, worship with them, and minister to their needs. This was the hard part. All the plans, the Bishop’s visit the week before my last Sunday, the last Sunday Parish picnic, the joyful celebration that was planned now gone. The loss of two of my parishioners and knowing I would not be able to do their funerals. The hospital visits that I could not perform. This was an abrupt change to the plan. All the planning I did with my life coach now on hold.
Then there is activities of the Veteran Council on which I have a seat on the Board of Directors, the decompression cruise, and all these plans on hold not to mention all our other plans.
Retirement came and was abruptly interrupted. However nothing is certain, not all plans go the way we think or desire. Adjustments are made, you adapt, improvise and overcome. You realize that you are not in control and yet there is a peace you can have in it all. God says “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. ( ESV) ” It is having this assurance that I know the retirement I planned will only change to a better plan than I could have imagined. Yes I will still dream, yes I will still plan, yes I will still look ahead and when the plans change – I will seek God and He will hear me. The only assurance I have is the faithfulness of God whose character is good, faithful and compassionate. Retirement is not easy for anyone but always remember God has plan for you.