Monday, August 24, 2009

What's Next?

Since I’ve announced my intent to work half time with an urban ministry the question most asked is “Are you moving into the city?”

Not yet. We’re committed to living in the burbs for two more years. John needs to finish high school. During these two years, however, we’ll be prayerfully and thoughtfully thinking about ‘what’s next’.

I’m chuckling as I write all this. “What’s next?” In two years I’ll be 61. And God has given me a desire to think about ‘what’s next’. I’m blessed.

Just having that desire gives me the hope that God isn’t done with me yet.

Here’s what I observe. I see a lot of folks in their 60’s, 70’s and beyond who buy into a culturally prescribed dream for their life. It means that when you’re at a certain age you ‘retire’. You head south. No asking God about ‘what’s next’. No down on your knees reflection of how your gifts and talents can be used in the next phase of your life. Nope. There’s a look at the balance sheet and if it all shakes out ‘retirement’ is around the corner.

What does ‘retirement’ mean?

Is it a biblical concept?

Is it a time and place where those who have much just fade into the sunset?

I talked to a guy the other day who is retired. It sounds like he has a boatload of money. But I got the sense that he knows that God is not done with him yet. Sure, he has the time and discretionary income to do some of those things he always dreamed of doing but he also has a sense of some divine direction to his life. That’s because he’s intentional about his life. Retirement, for him, means reengagement in a different way, not checking out.

He’s asking ‘what’s next’.

Another old friend sounds like he’s retiring comfortably. What’s fun is to hear about how he’s using his time. He’s putting roofs on Habitat homes. He’s going to a Christian camp and fixing the plumbing. He’s climbing mountains and reflecting on the glory of God.

He’s asking ‘what’s next?’.

I think of John Perkins, who is considered the godfather of racial reconciliation. He’s out speaking and traveling and pushing people to think ‘anew’ about the world we’re living in. He must be pushing 80.

He’s asking ‘what’s next’?.

I remember a gal from my Young Life days. I think her name was Kay Mac. She was a pioneer in her younger days. As she got older and less mobile she used to get on an exercise bike and plot her distance on a map, praying for YL staff, kids, and volunteers in each town she pretended to enter.

She asked, “what’s next’?.

I don’t have a boatload of money. Won’t have a lot of discretionary income. I think that’s God’s gift to me. Who knows what I’d do if I had both time and money? Would I still have a desire to ask ‘what’s next?” Hopefully, yes. But I don't know. And the truth of the matter is that I want to live life with a sense of expectancy, always asking the question “O Lord, what assignment do you now have for me now?"

I'm not sure what 'next' will mean for me in a few years. Maybe it will be the city. Maybe into an under resourced community. Maybe not.

My prayer is, though, that whatever is next will be a little counter cultural. That it will stretch me more than coddle me. My hope is that ‘what’s next’ will advance the kingdom and bring me closer to this great God of ours.


Gail said...

Hey Mike, this is certainly timely as I ponder "what is next?" The good news to me is that there is a desire for next. When we stop dreaming and learning and think we have arrived, is when I would become afraid...Turning 55 and asking what is next is scary, but I also believe the Kingdom of God is palatial and ready for people like us...Gail

Mike said...

Oh wow!!! You can't be 55. That means we were just young pups when we were doing YL ski trips together. Lotta years gone.

You're right. What next is scary but I agree with you it's the only way to go. The options aren't very attractive.

Keep me posted on how you're doing, huh?


Gail said...

I turn 55 in Oct...and yes, we were pups...You keep me posted too...if you hear of any opportunities that might be up my alley let me know...