Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 10

Mark 1 v 14 – 20/ Mark 3 v 13 – 19

My 13 year old grandson made an astute observation recently when he said, ‘every day is a holiday for grandad’. I had to assure him that being a grandad carries a multitude of responsibilities such as who would visit all the coffee/tea shops in the area to assess their quality, if grandad didn’t do it.

Actually I’m taking his comment out of context as we were talking about statutory bank holidays, Easter, spring bank etc., and their relationship with school holidays. He was making the point that there is always an air of excitement when these holidays approach, especially when you come home from school on the last day of term. It was my grandson’s theory that the excitement doesn’t happen when you retire as there is no difference between a bank holiday and any other day. I’m not sure if this was his theory or whether it was a clever way of digging himself out of a rather large hole that he had just dug for himself.

I must admit, when I did retire, and I came home from work on that last day, I felt like I was embarking on a long holiday and not actually retiring. The realisation that I was not going back to my Nottingham City job, didn’t dawn until two weeks or so later. I was also fortunate as I was approached by a local Surveyors practice who offered me a part time job for two or three days a week which avoided the sudden break from employment and eased me into retirement gently.

Retirement, after all, is a complex phenomenon which affects people in different ways. For some, retirement is foreseen and it approaches over the horizon gradually giving time to plan and adjust to the forthcoming changes to their life style. Potential financial readjustments, personal and social changes, and the opportunity to do things on that bucket list that they never had time for when working, all present themselves. However for others retirement is not planned and comes unexpected due illness, unemployment or social changes and often in these cases the impact can be greater.

All retirement affects the lives of those involved in some way or another. It took some time for me to accept that I was no longer needed and after advising on statutory legislation for forty years, the authorities no longer required my expertise. Life at home also changed, I recall Jean saying, ‘I don’t want you under my feet every day. The kitchen is mine and I don’t want to be falling over you’, (she loved me really), but the point was that the life changes affected not just me but her as well.

For those who do not have a wife, husband or partner to share the new life style, it can be particularly difficult and statistics show that mental health issues can be common place in such situations. We never know what is waiting round the corner or what impact it may have on our lives. Retirement is a major life changing experience.

Whenever I think about life changing experiences I always think about the disciples, those twelve, (or thirteen), ordinary people who became ‘special’ when they were chosen by God.

  I like to look at the disciples now and again because they were just like you and me. They were ordinary people of their time a mixture of different professions, hard- working manual workers and those of sedentary occupations, those with basic education and those who could have been academics, but it is how they displayed their personal qualities that give me encouragement.

They showed all the signs of an average person, they sometimes got things wrong, they failed to understand some of the complex theological teachings that Jesus presented to them, they showed impatience, they showed a thirst for greatness without knowing what that meant, they showed a frailty when threatened, and showed denial when faced with an unpredictable future.

But they loved Jesus Christ and were willing to lay their lives down for him.

In turn Jesus loved them. He accepted all their failings, all their faults and shortcomings; he wiped away all their mistakes and turned their humanity into humility. Jesus knew that through the Holy Spirit the disciples would be reborn into the foundation of the church of Christ not just in Judea but across the world to all nations.

The life changing experience that redirected the lives of those disciples came about the moment they met with Jesus and he said ‘Follow me’.

The personalities of the disciples could be transposed onto our shoulders, we get it wrong, we have our frailties, we often don’t fully understand what God is telling us to do, and we sometimes forget what it means to be humble. But Jesus wipes away all our transgressions because he loves us and he knows that through the Holy Spirit we can be the new disciples and build on the foundation of the church of Jesus Christ

In many ways my grandson is correct, I know that compared with many other people of my age group and situation, my life is like a holiday every day and I am blessed that I have the life that I have. I give thanks to God every morning and every night for pouring his grace upon me and giving me such a life.

Derek T.