For many of us, we define our lives with "whens:" when I grow up; when I go to college; when I get married; when I have children; when they grow up; when they leave the nest; when I retire and on and on we go. One morning we awake with the startling realization that we have about come to the end of our whens. We think they are complete. We have reluctantly reached retirement, with the words ringing in our ears, "Retirement only comes in heaven." Tom and I are convicted that God can and does use us at any age, in any place, if we are submissive to His wisdom and leading. In the two and a half years we have been here, we have continued to ask God to show us how to live, what to do and to give us opportunities for ministry, but I have not always understood God's response. I needed to step back and take a new look at things.
Answers have come in both expected and unexpected ways. The daily care of one another often has been taken for granted, but in these days of less than perfect health, little ways we care and show love have been highlighted as a special kind of ministry--the fulfillment of those vows repeated forty plus years ago.
Sunday the text for my sermon was the passage in Mark where the disciples rebuke the people for bringing little children to Jesus. Jeus replied with indignation saying not only to let them come, but also not to stand in the way of their coming. By the time he took, his touch and his blessing of them Jesus indicated his attitude toward children. Preparation for the sermon got my attention. We have more time in retirement to spend with the little ones in our family. Mark uses the word "embrace" to describe Jesus' touch, a word that in our day might be translated "hug." Our touch, our hugs often display our deep feelings for our grandchildren when words are inadequate or too abstract for their young minds. Jesus blessed the children he took the time to embrace so we need to take time to pray for the children in our lives. Praying for them is not only a blessing for them, but also for us. This is ministry that adds much joy to our days!
There have been opportunities to teach, to share ideas about older adult ministry, to preach and to be active in the work of the Presbytery. Since mid-January I have either taught or preached every Sunday, substituting for a regular teacher and filling a now empty pulpit in Humboldt, a nearby town where I have preached several times. The Committee on Ministry asked me to moderate their Session and the Session has asked me to supply their pulpit for an indefinite period of time.
The first week in June I'm going to meet with the staff and the elder in our church here to discuss getting small group ministry off the ground and sometime soon will do an orientation for the visitation team that is a part of the older adult ministry.
God is answering our prayers for ministry opportunities, all in His time. We just have to let God have our whens. They don't end with retirement like we sometimes think. Please pray for our new opportunities.