Early Retirement?

I’ve retired! Or, more accurately, I’ve been ‘retired’! It’s come as a bit of a shock. ‘Out of the blue,’ you might say. Here I was, expecting to ‘work’ until at least 70. Suddenly, the axe fell, and I’m finished. My services are no longer required.

I started with the company, on a casual work basis, at the tender age of 18. It was a good, national enterprise, doing a vital job, and staffed with great people. When required, I tried to be regular at the workplace. But, not always. For, there were times when I was just too busy, sick, or had something more important to do. The company might not see me for many months.

Anyway, a while ago, conscience and convenience synchronised, and I was invited back to work. Or so I thought. I checked in as usual, jumping through all the appropriate security, ticking boxes confidently. Then came the game-changer question: had I had any recent surgery? Hmm! Yes, I had, a couple of years before. That event was likewise ‘out of the blue’. Thankfully, due to the intervention and insistence of a close friend, a gifted medical practitioner, the life-threatening cancer was diagnosed early and surgically removed. I was back at my College desk as Principal within a few days – no retirement here!

This other workplace was different. ‘We’re sorry, Dr Brady, but we’re unable to take any further donations from you. Just one of those things, I’m afraid,’ the sympathetic doctor informed me. Within a couple of days, I had a delightful letter from the UK’s National Blood Service, enclosing a certificate that stated, in bold red letters, ‘Retirement’. It kindly thanked me for having ‘given blood on thirty-eight occasions for the benefit of others before retiring as a blood donor.’

I suppose thirty-eight donations ‘for the benefit of others’ may be viewed as a creditable performance. Many have never donated at all, others just once or twice. But it got me thinking. Over the thirty or more years I had been an irregular blood donor, if I had only got my act together, I may have easily clocked up a total of sixty, seventy or more donations. But opportunities to add to my tally of thirty-eight had now disappeared for good. As I considered the latter, a further thought intruded itself into my mind. Methodism’s John Wesley’s dictum began to ring in my ears:

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.
(Letters, Rule of Conduct)

A life characterised by love for the Lord and our neighbour is the Christian’s response to God’s love for us in Christ. There will come a time, however, due to age, illness, other circumstances, and death, when I will no longer be able to do all the good I can here. Near the end of the film, Schindler’s List, Oskar Schindler, despite his heroism in saving the lives of some 1200 Jews during the Holocaust, is filled with remorse: he contemplates how many more he might have saved if only he had sold his car, his jewellery, etc. If only…!

The National Blood Service may still need you! So does your family, local church, neighbourhood, and a thousand other good causes, and people without number. As Chuck’s article highlights:

No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:8, NLT)

When should I be serving such priorities? Right now! Carpe Diem – seize the day! Because ‘retirement’ may come when you’re least expecting it. Don’t I know!

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Steve was born in Liverpool where he was converted in his teens, through a mixture of Bible reading and Everton Football Club! He is married to Brenda, and they have two children and three (great!) grandchildren. He has been in full-time Christian ministry for nearly forty years, is Principal of Moorlands College, holds a Ph.D. in theology, and serves as a trustee of the Keswick Convention and Insight for Living UK. He is a keen sportsman and author, his latest book being The Incredible Journey: Christmas from Genesis to Jesus.