My friend Peter is now 85 years old, has vertigo, and a few other ailments. I have known him for 50+ years. He continues to be one of my teachers, a colleague, friend and mentor, renter in our home in Iowa, and an altogether lively person. He is officially a retired New Testament professor who has tried to quit three or four times. Kay and I visited him last week. We had not seen him for 15 years and thought he might have slowed down a bit, but not so. At 85, he's still going strong -- passionate, funny, and fully engaged.
In our conversation, I asked him about retirement. "No way," he replied, "not as long as the bad guys are winning." He is driven by a prophetic call to justice on behalf of the poor and to those ground down by entrenched political injustice. He is a pastor, an academic, and a prophet. He is one of my heroes, a saint of the church, filled with passion, and incredibly funny all at the same time.
"So what's next for you?" he asked. "I'll retire," I said. "No! No! No!" was his response. "What's your next project, your next mission, your next crusade against evil?" His point: when we have a Gospel-centered Call, there is no retirement, but simply the joy of carrying on a new task, a continuation of the mission of our Lord. He reminds me that the only time I truly retire is when I die.
And so, with joy in our hearts, a great sense of humor, an eye for 'the bad guys', and a life-long Call upon our lives, we go on. We are, as Peter reminds us, never retired, just carrying on with something new.
May God bless us all until, some day, we finally retire. We're not quite there yet.