Last week I met with a church planter living in Toronto, planting churches among "Persian" muslims. We've met a couple of times a year for decades. I turned 75 years old this year and so his question to me was this, "Why do you think God keeps you alive?" Obviously, I have no real idea, but what he really wanted to know is what really drives me to not consider retiring? Here's how I responded.
Besides the fact that I love life, love my wife and family, I believe God has three purposes for every believer.
1.Make God look good.
That's simply shorthand for loving God enough to trust him by obeying him and not embarrass him, thus giving him the glory he deserves.
2. Make life better for other people.
That's also shorthand for "loving your neighbor as yourself." Jesus made it clear beyond debate his followers were put on this earth to advance the Kingdom of God, and a major part of that is to care for the "least of these" people. The poor, old, handicapped, widowed, orphans, prisoners, immigrants, homeless, & the lonely. God never commanded anyone to give to colleges, universities, Christian schools, or parachurch organizations (although all those are great ministries). God's commands in the Old and New Testaments are unambiguous; as his "surrogates" on earth we are to care for the most vulnerable in society. If you do, and when you do, "well done good and faithful servant".
3. Introduce others to Jesus and his teachings.
This idea comes straight out of what we call "the great commission". "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” -Matthew 28:19-20
It's not just enough to introduce them to the gospel. All true believers must have a passion to live the gospel and explain the gospel to others.
That's what I think about almost every day. So back to the church planter's question, "Why don't you consider retiring?" My honest answer is that at some point I will need to slow up. I'm getting older and of course that means less ministry and I do enjoy having more time with my wife. But how does "spending weeks, or months killing time pleasantly in warm places" improving my golf handicap, fishing, traveling, or working on my tan serve the Kingdom of God? The pleasure filled life is antithetical to the gospel and probably a sin. The idea of retirement is a product of our culture, not found in the Bible. Yes, rest for a time to enjoy life and re-create" yourself, but only long enough to enable you to re-energize yourself to get back to serving the Kingdom. Life is short. Eternity long. Play the long-game!
If you have your own reasons for waking up everyday, please share them with us.