running the second lap with new purpose
I have been a regular church-goer since my teens except for the period I was studying in Australia and working in the United States. At age 36 I was at the height of my career when I was made Head of Corporate Banking at a local bank. Though I had achieved material success early in life, there was a sense of emptiness in my heart. I felt something was missing in my life.
In early 2000 something happened, which brought me closer to God. My daughter had started work at a local law firm and was having a tough time. She would often come back from work feeling miserable and I was very much affected by it as she is very close to me. We started praying together. Each time she faced difficulties at work she would call me and we would pray together over the phone. Most of her struggles involved working with difficult people at the workplace. During that period God kept reminding us that: “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13: 6). God also answered our prayers, and soon after, her work situation improved and she managed to cope better.
This event taught me the importance of prayer and the need for intimacy with God. “Again I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”(Matthew 18:19) From then on I decided to fully commit myself to God. My involvement in the church and cell group also took a new meaning and purpose. By God’s grace, my faith in God and knowledge of His word grew.
This had also led me to pray for God’s direction and empowerment to serve Him more. I heard God calling me to live my life fully for Him and the response of my heart was best described by the words of the song, “Here I am Lord”.
“Here I am, Lord. Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.”
I began to question what had I been doing with my life and whether I had been truly living my life for God. I had finally reached a crossroad in my life. I had been working for 33 years. Is it God’s plan for me to continue working or to leave and do something else? It dawned on me that being in full-time employment left me with little time to serve Him. God had provided abundantly for my family and me all these years and He helped me realise that I should now focus on laying up treasures in Heaven instead of laying up treasures on earth. I felt God leading me to retire. In my heart I wanted to serve Him with all the time I have. Although retirement meant that I would not be having a regular income, I knew that God, my Jehovah Jireh, would supply all my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. There is no need for me to worry.
So at the age of 58 I retired from a comfortable and well paid job. Since then I have been more involved in the church and enjoying every bit of it. My daughter mentioned the other day (half in jest) that I am even busier now than when I was working!
I had the opportunity and privilege to serve in various ministries like the Church Council, the Finance and Property Committee, the Home for the Aged, St Andrew’s Mission Hospital, the Cell Ministry and the Christian Education programs. I have gleaned much spiritual insight and knowledge from attending the educational programs and serving in the ministries. Sweet also is the fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ!
My wife and I are also quite involved in the Matthew Host program, which essentially is to invite pre-believers to our home and telling them about Jesus in a non-threatening setting. I thank God for the people that have been coming for the meeting; the group has grown from 6 to 22 members. I thank the Lord for all these blessings and I pray that He will continue to use me to bring others to the saving knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
For some, retirement is a very difficult stage in their life. They either worry that they may not have enough money for the future or that they may lose their sense of self-worth. For myself, God had given
me the wisdom to make some prudent investments and to save enough for my retirement years. We are stewards of God’s money and it is our responsibility to use it wisely.
As for the loss of social status, it is no longer important to me as I know that on the Day of Judgment, God will not ask me if I had been a CEO or Managing Director but rather He would ask me what I had done for Him on earth. Retirees may also feel lost not knowing what to do with their spare time. If you are in such a situation, I would like to encourage you to spend time to pray about God’s plan for you in your life. God’s plan for us is perfect and He desires to use us mightily for the furtherance of His kingdom.
In closing, I want to give glory to God for what He has done in my life and for His goodness to me. He has blessed me with 60 years of life on this earth. I have a loving wife, a son who is 34 and a daughter who is 29 (both of whom are happily married) plus a granddaughter who is 3 ½ years old. I have been through many ups and downs in my life and I have much to thank God for. In particular, I thank God for leading me to an early retirement so that I can serve him more.
“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Indeed there is a time for everything and to know God’s timing is most important. The danger is to doubt or even to resent God’s calling. I am enjoying my retirement because I focus my energy and time on spiritual matters like spending more quiet time with God, reading the Bible and serving in church. To me, realising that God still has work for me to do and I can serve Him in so many ways is of the greatest satisfaction. God has called me to study His word, to be a man of prayer, to maintain a close relationship with fellow Christians and to bring others to Him. I have God’s peace in me, a peace that is different from that which the world gives. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you, as the world gives…..”(John 14:27). My priorities have changed radically and I am very blessed to know for certain that I have the gift of eternal life. All Glory to God!
Author: Andrew Lee is lay reader at the 8 am Sunday Service.
Photo: Standing from left is Peter (son-in-law), Cheryl (daughter), Inga (daughter-in-law), and Desmond (son). Seated from left is Christine (wife), Kaitlyn (grand-daughter) and Andrew.
First published in The Courier, April 2010.