For the last four weeks the dining room table has been full of retirement cards. But now is the time to put the cards away.
Some of the cards were banal: ‘Gardening, walking, visiting friends, travel, reading, going to the movies… you’ll wonder how you ever found time to work!’; or ‘Wishing you time to just relax [a split infinitive!] and enjoy the things you love most’; or ‘You’ve retired… now you’ll have that Friday feeling every day!’ (Do ministers ever have a Friday feeling?).
Some were amusing: “If youth is wasted on the young, then retirement is wasted on the old”; or ‘You’re retiring. Keep calm and carry on’!
Retirement will be WONDERFUL
That’s how it’s meant to be
There’s such a lot still left to do
And MANY things to see
The future holds such HAPPINESS
So make some time for you
And may these golden, happy years
See every DREAM come true
A couple from my first church composed their own ditty, which concluded:
So Paul, feel very proud today
Of the people you have led…
To become committed Christians
By the true words you have said…
Telling them about Jesus
Persuading them to read His Word
And advising them to accept Him
As their own dear Saviour and Lord
Many sought to ‘Christianise’ the secular card they bought. So one card boldly wishes ‘Good luck in your retirement’ – but inside the sender quoted Ps 37.4: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart”. Another card on the front declares ‘When your dreams turn to dust, vacuum’, but inside the sender wrote: “Like a great composer you have big plans and much work to do – so I pray may the Lord “establish the work of your hands’ (Psalm 90.17)”. Yet another card on the front features a garden bench with books, flowers, and a mug of coffee – but inside the words of Paul “I am confident of this that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1.6). Several people sent pretty cards and then wrote inside the Aaronic blessing: “May the Lord bless you and take care of you. May the Lord be kind and gracious to you. May the Lord look on you with favour and give you peace” (Num 6.24-25).
Others sent specifically Christian cards with such words as ‘God bless you on your retirement’, to ‘God created you to accomplish such wonderful things’. One card featured ‘I am the vine’ on the front, but inside a handwritten note: ”As Jesus has led you in the past, may he continue to watch over you, lead you and guide you in this next phase of your walk with him”. Yet another: “Praise God for the past. Enjoy God for the present. Trust God for the future.”
As I was putting the cards away I asked myself: what would I wish for myself? If I were to send myself a retirement card, what would I write inside? Perhaps my overall goals for retirement: ‘Enjoy the freedom which this new stage of life brings! Continue to grow and develop as a person. Find new ways of serving God and sharing faith’.