In the Chinese zodiac cycle of twelve animals representing different years, 2017 is the year of the rooster. That bird is pretty well confined to the ground, although it can flutter about a foot or two above ground if agitated.
I have been using Chinese New Years Day January 28 simply as a convenient date to initiate some adjustments in my advanced years, namely decelerating my outward speed of life and accelerating my inner renewal. However, I guess I made a mistake to use the word “retired” to describe that modification.
Some of my friends are jumping to the conclusion that I was totally worn out, “tired” (part of the word “retired”) and that I planned to settle into a rocking chair and henceforth do nothing—to back off from my life calling, abandon my creative writing, my “Barnabas” encouragement ministry, and just meander around “the barnyard” like the rooster pecking at worms and chicken feed.
Absolutely NOT! In fact, the polar opposite. I'm choosing a different bird to represent my desire for this coming year—the eagle.
God created it with the instinct and ability to fly high, to effortlessly soar on the thermal currents only moving its strong wings slightly. And to wait for those currents before taking off in flight. It was not meant to strut around confined and crowing like the rooster or even rapidly flapping its wings like other birds of the air. Leisurely sailing on air might best describe the eagle's mobility.
What do I hope my forthcoming days will look like, I'm asked. Okay, here goes:
I'm going to try not to frantically flap my wings about anything contrary, adverse, or unexpected. Instead, to “wait on the Lord” (Isaiah 40:28-31) and so avoid becoming “weary and faint.” I will expect to “renew my strength” to “mount up with wings like eagles.” I can expect that there will still be times when the Lord will ask me to “run” and other times He will ask me to cool it, wait for Him, and just rest. He promised that if I walk with Him at that kind of alternating pace—run and rest—I won't “get tired or weary.” God will infuse strength into me as if I were young again (Psalm 103:5 and Deuteronomy 33:25). Whatever my days will hold, whatever the tumult around me, I want to “walk leisurely” through my days.
Because my calling from the Lord and the gifts He has given to accomplish my calling have unlimited “shelf life” and no expiration date, I accept that I will be accountable for them as a good steward however long I live. Each bonus day God gives me is a renewed opportunity to bear more fruit for Him (Psalm 92:12-15) through encouraging others in the Faith through my writing and my spoken words.
I will be happy to celebrate the harvest time of my life and delight in savoring the goodness of the Lord. It will satisfy me. I expect to learn how to be content with my circumstances, as Saint Paul wrote that he had to learn, even the decline of my strength through natural aging.
I expect to delight in spending more time in deeper relationships with my family and friends. I anticipate renewing my inner spirit and drawing closer to the Lord in prayer. I anticipate more quiet reflection time to listen to the love-whispers of God and become more discerning and attentive to the gentle directives of the Holy Spirit. And allocate more time to reading for refreshment, for pleasure and profit.
Along with more resting, I'm going to try to be more physically active even with disciplined, structured exercise, and curtail somewhat (only somewhat) my time sitting and writing at the computer.
I plan to continue, as has always been my habit, to surrender myself in the morning upon rising to the will and way of the Lord for whatever He planned for me for this day. God prepared it all beforehand (Ephesians 2:10) and I accept His plan. Therefore I won't consider anything as an interruption or detour. I plan to count it a joy to agree, as I always have, with whatever and whoever He brings into my life and try to discern the purpose for that encounter in order to carry out His will.
Honestly, I have no idea what the future days hold. So I walk on tiptoes of expectancy for what He has prepared for me during—okay, let's not say my “retirement”—but instead, during my rejuvenation (meaning: to restore to youthful vigor or appearance) and my renewal! I know it will be good because God is always good. “I don't know about tomorrow,” the hymn writer declared, and I agree, “but I know Who holds my hand.”