When I look at people who have been working for a long time, it seems to me that they all fall into at least three different groups when it comes to the subject of retirement: 1) Those who fear retirement, 2) Those who can’t seem to acquire enough for retirement, and 3) Those who use work as a means to retirement.
The Farmer belongs to the last group. He’s a hard worker, and he has used a lot of his hard-working years to save up for retirement. He has never been able to sit and enjoy taking time off. I think it’s because he’s had his eye on a greater goal…retirement.
He typically left the house very early, and had at least a 45-minute drive to work. He was very diligent; working in the rain, snow, sleet and hail (the postman had nothing on him). He would often work late, go to bed early, and get up “Grumpy” (me), so I could fix his lunch for the day.
However, that has all changed. He has retired from his “real” job, and he’s learning to live an entirely different way. He’s sleeping in a bit later (I’m afraid that may change when the weather gets warmer), he refuses to go out and work in the rain or snow, and he’s spending way too much time contemplating.
As a son of a farmer, he learned early to work hard. He began following his father around and helping him with whatever he was doing. In fact, some of his most precious memories are chasing his dad out the door as he went out to do some work on the farm. They were always fixing vehicles and machinery or repairing fences. Lots of time was spent clearing the land, picking up rocks, and creating brush piles. And of course there was always wood to be cut, animals to be tended to, and an occasional building project.
Although he has retired from his real job, he has not retired from farming. These next few years are the years we have both been working towards; the years we can spend enjoying the farm. We are raising cattle, instead of building the herd. We get to look out off our porch at fields of grasses, instead of clearing land. And we get to enjoy the things around us, instead of always wanting more.
Oh, that doesn’t mean there won’t be building projects, and machinery to work on, or fences that will need mending, but for the most part he has plans of putting up hay, watching the cattle grow, and enjoying all that God has allowed us to acquire.
This brings to mind a story in which Christ told concerning covetousness. He said that a farmer spent his whole life building for himself. He had land, built barns, and gained riches. One day he stopped and looked at all he had acquired and decided to tear his barns down and build bigger barns to hold more of the things that he wanted. But before he could do that, God ended his life here on earth.
The Bible records that he was a fool, not because he achieved so much, but because as he gained everything he could to benefit himself, and never gave thought to prepare for eternity. Jesus said, “...beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.” But we are to seek God’s redemption first, and then live according to His blessings.
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36
No matter what riches you have this side of Heaven (or lack thereof), if you do not prepare for eternity, in the end you will lose everything.
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:34