“Retirement,” stated J. Oswald Sanders, “is a junction not a terminus.” I paused in my reading, allowing my mind to drift back over the many years of my own retirement. At first I was busy looking after elderly, failing parents, but after their deaths [just weeks apart] I found myself facing ‘the rest of my life’! What should I do now? Grieving and utterly exhausted, I slowly began to put the basics of life back in place, and as ordinary things were refocused I found myself praying that Yahweh would “help me to grow old gracefully”. I didn’t [I still don’t] have any idea either what that meant for me, or how to accomplish it. But I see now that I was at a junction in life’s road, and the prayer shows me looking towards an inevitability.
Continuing with his retirement thought, Oswald Sanders reflected, “The Christian should regard it as a divinely given opportunity for new adventure and achievement, not as an opportunity to gradually wind down.” The Bible has lots of examples of people who changed direction, or made a new start, when facing this junction. There was Caleb, for instance, who inherited his mountain when he was 85 [Joshua 14:11-12], and Abraham who changed his entire lifestyle when he was 75 [Genesis 12:1]. Junctions are not the end of the road; they are about choices. The choice I made was to continue to serve Yahweh, opening up my heart and life for the opportunities that He sends my way now, and finding my place of service alongside the limitations of age.
Retirement is only one of the junctions we face, of course. We have to make choices and deal with change throughout our lives. Sometimes it’s not apparent how we should move forward, so at those times we must pray and wait. Yahweh said, “Stand at the crossroads and look…ask where the good way is, and walk in it” [Jeremiah 6:16, italics added]. It’s perfectly acceptable to take time at a junction, but it’s not a terminus so don’t stagnant there; stand, ask, look, walk. Yahweh has plans for each of us, and there is no safer place to be than in His will and purpose.