As I was transitioning into retirement one of the books that I read that had an impact on me was: An Uncommon Guide to Retirement: Finding God’s Purpose For The Next Season of Life by Jeff Haanen. I highly recommend this book! One of my favorite things from the book was his idea that upon retirement you should take a six-month sabbatical before you decide what you are going to “do” in this next season of life. He indicated that if one keeps their eyes and ears open and listens to the voice of God, He will direct you. I distinctly remember him imploring his readers not to just go ahead and do what they have always done but rather be open to new directions if the Lord leads in that way. As a lifelong doer, it has been very difficult even though I am only a couple of weeks in to not just jump in and do what I have always done. I do not believe there is anything wrong with what I have done all of my adult life, but I want to be open to what God has in mind. One of the things I have been keenly aware of lately is God speaking. Not in an audible voice, but by His Spirit, His Word, and His people.
This morning I was at Planet Fitness in Tinley Park Illinois. In my last few weeks in my previous responsibility I preached from one of my favorite passages: Philippians 4:4-7. 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Last evening I felt drawn back to this passage, especially the first part: “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.” It was as if God was saying to me yesterday that my main responsibility is to rejoice in the Lord. I have come to understand the strength and power that comes from the joy of the Lord. The Apostle Paul writing from prison says to rejoice and to rejoice always. “Do not be anxious about anything but pray about everything. It was last night that I said to the Lord I am not going to worry or be anxious I am turning everything over to you. I went to bed having resettled the issue.
Fast-forward to this morning. As I was going through my exercise routine, I got on the treadmill. I was listening to a podcast via my earbuds and noticed a verse of Scripture on the back of a t-shirt worn by a lady on an elliptical machine directly in front of me. This is what was on the back of her shirt: “Rejoice in the Lord always again I say rejoice!” I know that I am not the brightest person in the world but even I got that message loud and clear!
Just so you do not think this is just another preacher story, I went over and talked with her and told her what a blessing she was to me today and that God spoke to me through the Scripture she had on the back of her shirt. We talked for a few minutes, I then asked her if I could take a selfie? She agreed, she also agreed to pray for my wife and me. I am the world’s worst selfie taker. This may be another task that I can work on in retirement. I include her picture to merely say to all of you reading this: pay attention God is trying to get our attention, even at the gym.
So…Rejoice in the Lord always again I say rejoice.