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Rooted in Christ

Home Stretch

Retirement is not about how you fill your time but how you use it.

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time,
because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:15–16, NKJV)

Last week we looked at the race that is the Christian life. We press on toward glory. Denying ourselves and taking up our cross, we grow in holiness. Through the indicative of union with a risen and reigning Christ, we live out the imperative of living as ones dead to sin and alive in Christ. We who are light in the Lord are to be light, reflecting all that is good and right and true.

That race is run from conversion to life’s conclusion when Christ is fully formed in us. It defines our earthly pilgrimage. We press on with all His strength. The finish line is death’s door.

That race can be said to be run in stages. Paul alludes to stages when he speaks of older men and women, young men and women, and children (Titus 2). A note in the Faith Life Study Bible says the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates divided the human lifespan into seven stages: child (0-7), boy (8-14), young man (22-28), man (29-49), old man (50-56), and elderly man (57+). I find myself in the last stage, the final leg of the race set before me.

I retired from the local church pastorate this year. That has required a mental adjustment. On the one hand, I no longer have the early hours and long days of pastoral care and planning. On the other hand, I am still called to be a steward of my time and servant of my Lord Jesus, seeking first His kingdom.

In a recent Pastor to Pastor article (10/4/19), T. M. Moore wrote: “We must not take the time of our lives for granted. Time is, as Jonathan Edwards noted, our most precious temporal gift. We must receive God’s gift of time with grateful hearts, seek Him concerning how best to use the moments of our lives (Ps. 90.12), and then devote our time to living for God’s Kingdom and glory (Ps. 90.16, 17).”

Another way of looking at the race we are to run is by seeing it as time to be spent. It’s easy to while away the time, filling it with leisure and entertainment. Perhaps golf every morning, tennis every afternoon and television every evening, with the occasional trip thrown in to mix things up.

Stewardship covers the entire race course set before us. In retirement the key concern is not how we will fill our time but how we will use it as a commodity entrusted to us by the Lord we love and serve.

Our lives belong to Jesus. As we run with endurance the race marked out for us fixing our eyes on Him, we see a life poured out, obedient unto death, fulfilling the Father’s will. Paul spoke of his own life being a drink offering. Unlike a burnt offering, a drink offering leaves no ashes. We are to leave it all on the field.

I read something written by Kareen Abdul-Jabbar, basketball’s all time leading scorer, and found it thought-provoking. I can still see him rising up for another sky hook. He observed: "When it comes to choosing between storing a championship ring or trophy in a room or providing kids with an opportunity to change their lives, the choice is pretty simple. Looking back on what I have done with my life, instead of gazing at the sparkle of jewels or gold plating celebrating something I did a long time ago, I'd rather look into the delighted face of a child holding their first caterpillar and think about what I might be doing for their future” (USA Today, 2/27/19).

Makes you think, doesn’t it? Where is our focus? What is important to us? What is our treasure? Under the lordship of Jesus, can it ever be just about us? What investment can we make, what treasure can we lay up as we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness?

The Christian life is a race, a walk, a pressing on - forward movement as God allows. Each stage holds its own challenges and joys, and its calling.

Digging Deeper

  1. How does use of time relate to running the race set before us?
  2. As a steward of your life, how can you use your time rather than just fill it?     

Lord Jesus, grant me grace to finish well drenched with the sweat of sanctification. 

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Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved. Those marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and ten grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

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