Recently, I announced at my worksite that I was doing the early retirement thing. They’re planning a party. I’m planning two parties. Former coworkers whom I haven’t seen in years have popped into my life with well wishes and congratulations.
I sensed the Lord’s calling me to early retirement almost two years ago, but I was too leery to do it then.
I sensed last month that He called me to renew my passport. I think that is intriguing.
I know that retirement is more than just ending work as I know it. It is a completely different way of living and way of thinking altogether.
For months, I have been trying to prepare for this sudden change by thinking through what my day and finances are going to look like. How will I structure my day? When will I work out? Where can I cut back in my spending?
I’ve been trying to practice what my day will look like on the few weekdays I’ve had off since I decided to retire, but so far, I’m not doing well. I keep getting about 2 hours behind schedule, even as I did this morning.
I think I can live reasonably on what I have earned in my retirement, but retirement is not about kicking back and taking it easy to play every day on lots of retirement money. All you social workers just laughed because you already know that there’s not a lot of money in social work, even if you’re licensed and have your own private practice!
I’m not “quitting” work. My focus is turning to a different kind of work in a different context: full-time ministry and missions. I want to accomplish those things I didn’t have the money, time, and faith to tackle before.
Yes, it’s true; I didn’t have the faith to retire sooner. I’ve done other things which I thought were by faith and it turned out to be me, not His leading. So… I don’t trust myself at times, but that’s a good thing; Proverbs 28:26 and Jeremiah 7:23-24.
I am excited to be done working for other people, but it’s scary to think of working for myself. Although I will really be working for the Lord in a different capacity, I am still responsible to manage my time, energy, and resources to glorify the Lord in an independent setting.
This will be a completely foreign and uncomfortable lifestyle for me. I can see the Lord saying, Good. I want you to be uncomfortable so you can learn to trust Me in a completely different context. I’ve been waiting for you to retire so I can lead you into other adventures.
The thought of “other adventures” makes me a bit uneasy only because I don’t know exactly what that entails yet. I squirm a bit when I read quotes like Neale Donald Walsch’s, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
I have to remind myself, The Lord already knows what He has in mind for me. Do not worry about this, just plan and work your best and He’ll do the rest. He’s smiling. He’s got it covered. This is how faith grows: by taking God’s risks, not just any old risks just because I want to do something for myself.
It was helpful and encouraging for Him to provide a delightful roommate at my last Christian writers conference who also was a professional. She also retired early to take up writing. And she has been successful.
I’ve gathered a few principles and insights along the way for how to do this risk-taking thing. Let me share what I’ve been learning:
I must walk by faith, not by sight; 2 Corinthians 5:7.
I must walk in obedience; 1 Samuel 15:22-23, Hebrews 11:6, and 1 Peter 1:13-19.
I must be sensitive to His leading, calling, and timing; John 10:4 & 16:13.
I must lean into His strength, wisdom, and providence to get through the unknown and the tough times; Isaiah 40:28-29 and 41:10.
I must be patient to wait for God’s results instead of trying to push and manipulate in the flesh for something to happen my way; 1 Corinthians 15:58, 2 Corinthians 4:1-2 & Galatians 6:7-9.
Nothing done for the Lord that is worthwhile will happen without spiritual warfare; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 and Ephesians 6:10-18.
He already has His journey for me planned, and nothing and no one can thwart His purposes for me, Isaiah 46:9-10.
Armed with a fresh delight to read and share His Word, explore the delights of His natural world through photography and art, and follow through on many years of ideas, I will plunge ahead into taking His risks.
I’ll continue to keep you posted as to what He allows into my life.