for years, my wife debbie and i had dreamed–and actually taken some steps toward planning–our perfect retirement. five acres of land in black forest, near colorado springs. we had finally settled on the modular log home we wanted. we were hoping on making the move within the year. and then there was the custom van, so we could travel the US, no motor home for us. we planned on sleeping in motels most nights and hopefully take a cruise every few years.
mission trips, living in the same old house, or helping people in need never crossed my mind for more than a moment (and that was when the preacher brought it up on sunday morning). those thoughts were quickly replaced with plans for my new found life after working all those years. as best as i can remember, i never even considered what Gods plans might entail.
as they say: “the best laid plans of mice and men…” in the mist of my planning, deb died. although i tried to keep the dream alive, the passion waned. as time went on it died completely and i could not revive it. i could speculate on what i believe was God’s message to me in the events following her death and the death of my dream, but that will have to wait for another blog.
galatians 6:2 admonishes us to bear one anothers burdens while galatians 6:5 say we must carry our own load. until recently, i never made a connection between these verses and the plan for the rest of my life. a little further down in galatians, paul says:
“do not be misled. no one makes a fool of God. what a person plants, he will harvest. the person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. all he’ll have to show for his life is weeds. but the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life. eternal life. so let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. at the right time we will harvest a good crop if we we don’t give up, or quit. right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.”
years ago i attended a christian financial seminar. the speaker said he could know what was important to a person by looking at the entries in their checkbook. in luke 6:24 dr luke states: “it’s obvious, isn’t it? the place where your treasure is, is the place you most want to be, and end up being.” kinda makes sense, doesn’t it? in my younger days, no matter how broke i was, i managed to buy cigarettes, porn and beer. over the years, those spending habits have been replaced by starbucks, movies and a red, midlife crisis, firebird trans am. and no matter how busy i might have been, i always used to manage to play golf, watch tv, go to strip bars and party with my friends. though the venues have changed, i still manage to make time for the things that are most important to me.
maybe it was debbies’ death. maybe it’s old age. or maybe becoming involved in redemptive community. but over the years there has been a paradigm shift. God’s plan for my life has become a bit more important than my plan for His life. the irony is that i experience more joy in my life now. not necessarily more happiness, but certainly more joy. that “fruit of the spirit” joy that is intertwined, in some strange way, with sorrow and pain.
this past friday a few of us gathered at the grange hall for refuge movie night. we watched the movie “up”– a cute kids movie with plenty of implications and applications for adults. mr.fredrickson and his wife had a dream, but the events of life always (as they do for most of us) got in the way. after she died, he decided to pursue it, by himself. as the movie progresses his goal is derailed by a young boy named russell, who is in need of a real father, and an assortment of weird animals. eventually, mr fredrickson has to decide if he will continue to live for himself or help someone who really needs him. the movie shows, quite vividly, how his dream and his accumulation of “stuff” has weighed him down. as the revelation hits him, he pushes all the material stuff out of his house and his life and help a little boy who needs a daddy. the movie ends with russell and mr fredrickson sitting on a curb, eating ice cream and playing a game russell had played with his dad, before his dad had left his life.
don’t get me wrong, this is not an easy journey. there are many more lessons to learn, along the way. but i find it’s a little easier to lessen the death grip i have on my money and become less preoccupied and self absorbed with my precious time.
was my dream retirement wrong? how ’bout the midlife crisis car? or the starbucks.? the movies? or the……….? i don’t know the answer, but there is something appealing about sitting on the curb eating ice cream with a friend.