When we first retired, my friend Karen suggested that I really should write a series of devotional readings for Fruit of the Vine, a Friends church booklet published quarterly. I wasn’t sure I had anything to say but a couple of years later, I did put some together from our experience. I sent them and they were accepted. This is the week that people across the country are reading them. It dawned on me that, given the subject of the writings, some of the readers here might gain from reading them, too.
Since we’re already three days into the week, I’m including those three days reading in this post. I’ll break the rest up a little so you won’t have such a long post to read at once.
Bible reading: Gen. 12:1-5
I never thought of myself traveling full time in retirement, it just sort of happened. On an RVing vacation, I mentioned to LeRoy that I could get used to “this”, meaning not going to work every day, enjoying different country. LeRoy understood that to mean that he should immediately begin looking for a bus. A bus, like a Trailways bus? Yes, since a bus conversion provides more storage capacity and comfort than our little camper-type RV. And we were off!
I wouldn’t begin to compare myself with Abram, but I will say that it seemed the Lord was leading us to leave our familiar surroundings and go…where? As with Abram, the destination didn’t seem to be the issue, just GO. Abram heard God say to leave his country, family and his father’s home for an undetermined land (Gen. 12:1 MSG) What God wanted was Abram’s willingness to follow where he was led.
I dragged my feet at first…well, maybe for quite a while. I found lots of reasons we weren’t ready to retire, let alone drive away. My office needed me! And we had debt. We couldn’t retire with debt. We had a mortgage on our house. What if we couldn’t sell it?
One of my favorite phrases in the Bible came into play then: BUT GOD. When God has a plan for your life, all the objections begin to resolve themselves. I just had to trust. Hebrews 11:1, 2 in the Message reads “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.”
Who is more important?
Bible reading: Gen. 22:1-5, 8, 13; Ex. 13:21, 22
When LeRoy and I began talking about living full time in our RV, I had issues to work through. Could I leave our family? At the time, our children had left us, scattered a day’s drive from us in two directions so that didn’t seem to be much of a problem. We visited my mother, in her 90s and in poor health, at least twice a week. What about our church family at Northridge Friends? We were there when it formed in 1970, so these friends had been close for many years, even when job changes moved us away for 18 years. How could I leave all that behind? I’m a people person. Would a life on the road be lonely?
For Abram and others who followed generations later, it was a matter of trusting God and following his direction. Abram trusted God to keep his promise through Isaac even when he was asked to sacrifice his son and God provided. When God heard the Israelites and led them out of Egypt, their way was not laid out far ahead of them. They followed a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, one day at a time. My comfort zone, like that of the Israelites, was seriously threatened. I wanted to see fire, a cloud, something!
God’s question to me and to all of us was and is “Who comes first in your life every day? Are you really willing to follow my lead?”
What is my priority?
Bible reading: Matt. 6:19-21
What about our “stuff”, the accumulation of a 45 year marriage, 20 in the same large house? What about treasures inherited from Oklahoma homesteaders? Memories of our kids’ school years that survived in the same boxes through countless moves to various homes/states? And our photos! The dune buggy parts and magazines LeRoy had amassed and the things from his jobs, presumably kept for his “Presidential library”?
Today’s scripture in the Message says, “The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” What did that mean in my life? I had made these things more important than my relationship with the Lord. Was that china cabinet full of antiques of more value to me than doing what God was asking of me? Was my house a status symbol or a tool to use for the kingdom?
The not always easy to accept answer is that God is important and all the rest is just stuff! Moving 15 times in 26 years had shown me that already. God had begun to work with me on that issue long before we retired, but I frequently have to give this issue back to Him years later. Ultimately it all belongs to Him anyway and He always meets my physical and financial needs regardless of where or in what we live.
The things I held so dear have been shared with family and friends and are bringing joy to many, instead of just us. And the Presidential library? Well, probably not.