Katie Grace was on the phone with Nahnee when I interrupted to offer Papa greetings. “Hey Papa,” she drawled. “Congratulations on your graduation.”
Earlier that afternoon, Sammie, Stacia, and I had enjoyed a retirement reception at the hospital. The celebration was such a lovely and delicious going-away party, with many of our team members dropping by to wish me well and offer words of appreciation. Now K.G. was summing it all up, calling it my graduation.
Sammie texted pictures to the family calling it “bittersweet” and adding, “We’ll start on the ‘honey-do list’ tomorrow!”
Having grown up with just the two of us being outnumbered by four females, Stephen Jr. answered in my defense, “Bittersweet for sure. Let him go fishing...even if just for a little bit at the King pond! That’s what they say you do when you retire anyways...”
After some good-natured bantering from others in the family and a mention of daughters with “to-do” lists, Stephen teased, “Don’t be too hard on him, Momma!”
In case anyone else has items for my “to-do” list, let me assure you that my “retirement” is just a change of direction, not a “sit down in front of the TV with a boring sigh” type of gesture. We do plan to visit the grandchildren more often and check some items on our bucket list, but the last thing I want to do (literally...the very last) is to stop serving the Lord and helping people.
A couple days after the party, I was talking with my friend Pastor Kelly Pete about retirement. Kelly said, “Steve, you and I both know that we will never retire from the ministry, even if our ministry takes a different direction.”
Different direction...new chapter...change of scenery...our vocation has not really changed. God has called us to glorify Him and serve others. The basic calling is the same for all Christians, all who would follow Him. All of us who answer the call to follow Him - whether we are called to preach, teach, or minister through some other profession or job - we are called to love God and love people.
The Bible is filled with characters who were called, by God, to specific positions or occupations in order to fulfill His purpose in the world. Noah was called to be a boat builder. Abraham was called to be a rancher, then was sent to a different country. Joseph was called and gifted to interpret dreams. Then he was called to be a slave, then second in command of Egypt, and finally savior of his family. David was called to be a shepherd, a musician, a soldier, and the King of Israel. Others were called to be builders. Many were called to be prophets.
Matthew was a tax collector - so was Zacchaeus. Peter, Andrew, James, John, and perhaps some of the other apostles, were fishermen. Simon was a zealot. Paul was a tent maker and probably a professor. Paul, along with many others that followed Jesus, was also a writer.
Although I do not intend to write the next chapter of my life, I plan to continue writing this column. I also expect to preach and teach. Probably I will conduct a few funerals and perform a wedding or two. There will certainly be some counseling and encouraging along the way. Visiting grandchildren is a high priority, and I will gladly continue sharing what they teach me about God.
...and those “honey-do” jobs? Well, I’m trying to be scriptural about those, too. Ecclesiastes 9:10 states, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your strength...” In Colossians chapter three we find, “Husbands love your wives...whatever you do, do it enthusiastically...as for the Lord...”
Whatever the next chapter holds, it will surely be exciting!
Steve Playl: firstname.lastname@example.org