Have you ever had a bittersweet experience? I’m sure you have. It’s hard to express exactly what being bittersweet is all about. Is it good? Is it bad? Enjoyable or miserable? Yes; all those things wrapped into one package. Many have asked me about my retirement, which is coming up at lightning speed. What is it like right now for me? Bittersweet! I think of the bittersweet chocolate used to make delicious brownies. It’s hard to eat alone but when you add sugar, eggs, flour, and other ingredients it’s tastes good. That’s what I’m experiencing right now. I’m the chocolate without the other things added. What that means is, I don’t know what will happen when I no longer come to my office every day. It has been a drive I’ve made for the last 33 years. On July 1st, I won’t have an office to drive to and I have no idea what that will look like.
Here’s what I do know, God is not finished with me yet because I’m still breathing. I’m still capable of following him and want to do that. As I think about that I’m considering what will be added to take me from bittersweet to good.
- GOD’S PRESENCE
“…And behold, ‘I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:20b) Jesus said this to his disciples as he was leaving this earth to go and be with the Father. I am his disciple and I know he will be with me in the days ahead. I may not know exactly what they hold for me, but he does. He will walk through each day with me just he does now. I can count on his presence to bring me comfort and peace.
- GOD’S WORD
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
There are so many times I take it for granted that I have God’s Word available to me at all times. God will use his word to give me direction and to point me in the way he would have me to go. His word is powerful enough to give me what I need in order to move forward in life without an office. I can rest in what I learn from his word about him and me. God means what he says. It is truth.
- GOD’S PEOPLE
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34)
Jesus gives this command to his disciples and to us, the church. I know that in the days ahead, I can count on my church family to continue to be my family. I don’t need an office to love others or to be loved by others. Jesus’ love will shine through his people and I know I’ll continue to be the recipient of that love. There will be new opportunities to love others well. I look forward to that.
Are there any better ingredients to add to my bittersweet retirement? I don’t think so. God will make it deliciously his. I need to rest in that and trust him as I move forward. As I look at the calendar, I can see June 30th looming in the near future. As I look to God, I can see many beginnings in store as I come to this ending. The beginnings will be sweet because of God’s presence, word, and people. How can it be anything else?