Every time people hear I’m retiring they throw a party! Just saying’
I am immensely grateful for all the occasions to reconnect with many of the people that have meant and continue to mean so much to me.
Part of the celebrations do feel somewhat duplicitous however for this “retirement” feels more like a changing of vehicles rather than a pulling over to the side of the road and parking.
The church pension allows me to say ‘No’ when the caller says “We think you could be helpful” and I feel no stirring of curiosity. Now my reading will not be so governed by sermons to be preached, courses to be taught or resources to be developed. I look forward to times when the curiosity is unbridled and let out of the barn without responsibility or the possibility of offence.
Gatherings to celebrate the transition do prod me though to wonder as well as to count the blessings.
I am not prone to giving advice but I wonder what word I would have spoken to a younger version of myself 30 or 40 years ago?
Probably I would have said, “Trust more.”
Trust in the care and creativity of others.
Trust more in the God who, without question, never gives up. No matter how restrictive the corner into which I may have painted myself or ill-equipped I was for the next step Something Else was also at work creating possibilities. This simply has been true.
When people used to ask me about my theology of ministry I used to quip, “I try and stay out of the way as much as possible.” Many times God would have benefited with less of my help; at others, much more.
While I should have trusted more I am also glad I didn’t because I think I could have easily slipped into quietism, a sitting around and just waiting. I was raised in a company town and it is easy to go to the default position of “The Company/The Church/somebody else should take care of this.”
The significant shifts in my life came when I didn’t know what to do and had to learn and take risks I would have preferred to let pass.
Much of what I needed to learn as a husband, lover, father, friend, leader, freelancer, business person, writer, preacher and teacher developed after I came to the point where I acknowledged, at least to myself, that I really didn’t have a clue about what was going on or how to proceed.
I had the most answers when I was about 29 years old. After that, the questions began to overtake the certainties.
I came to love the questions and the people who could point me towards the next cup of water on the Way.
I am grateful.