If you’ve done any traveling this summer you have undoubtedly seen those welcome signs along the Interstate that say Rest Area. These strategically placed signs allow the traveler to take a respite from the journey to be refreshed before continuing on. Rest Areas, however, are not designed as destination points—only temporary rest stops.
God has intentionally placed Rest Stop signs in our life journey as well. They serve as a welcome and necessary reminder of our need to refocus our perspective. Sabbath days, holidays, vacations, and retirement are rest stops at which we have the opportunity to put into practice Psalm 46:10: Be still and know that I am God.
For those of us at that stage of life known as mid-life and beyond (with an emphasis on beyond), remember this: God will never place in our path a sign that says Retirement Stop - Exit Here.
Life is about choices. In Jesus’ parable of the rich fool, the man in his story chose not to involve God in his decisions. Notice his response to the great wealth he accumulated:
“He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do?...
This is what I’ll do…
I’ll say to myself…” (Luke 12:16-19)
Do you see it? Not once did the rich fool ask God what he should do with this newly acquired extravagant wealth. He forgot that it was God who blessed him with an abundant crop. Instead of building barns for himself, he might have chosen to use it to bless others. But he chose to not acknowledge God’s blessing or involve God in his choices about what to do with all that he had received. He lost sight of the fact that God is always involved whether we want Him to be or not.
So, how do we teach our grandchildren to make good choices in life? It starts with the choices we make. If we go through life making important decisions without involving God, why would we expect that our grandchildren would do anything differently? The choices we make about everything God has given us, and what He asks us to do communicate the value we truly place on God’s wisdom and purposes for us. The rich fool thought he could choose his own course without God’s input, but God had other plans. Do you ever do the same?
Freedom is not about choosing to do whatever I want to do, but choosing God’s perfect way. Choosing how I use my retirement years—how I spend myself to bless others and fulfill God’s purposes for me—reveal whether God is involved in my choices or not. In the end, God will always be involved. The question is whether His involvement is because I choose to surrender to Him. It’s my choice, and your choice…and it is a choice that will speak volumes to our grandchildren about our heart.
Here are three practical ways to help you evaluate whether the choices you habitually make reflect the degree to which your life is rich towards God (vs. 21):
GrandPause: Liberty is God's gift; liberties the devil’s.
Abraham Lincoln used the wolf and the sheep to illustrate the conundrum people often face when it comes to the application of liberty. The shepherd, Mr. Lincoln noted, drives the wolf from the sheep, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly, the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of liberty.
As reflected in the German proverb above, we often confuse liberty and liberties. Self-centered, irresponsible people interpret liberty to mean whatever they please without any constraint by laws or rules of nature. This is, in fact, a prevalent attitude in politics and many discussions of individual liberty as described in the US Constitution.
True liberty is a mostly misunderstood concept in our day. Liberty is never about personal rights as much as it personal responsibilities for the good of others. It’s what Jesus modeled for us when he emptied Himself of His rights of equality with God to become a servant for our benefit. Liberty is being free to do that which is right and makes much of God’s goodness and greatness.
As we approach our annual Fourth of July celebrations as a nation, I thought it might be good for us to look back at the wisdom and insights of those whose views would be worth our further consideration and dialogue. These are truths we would do well to ponder, model and discuss with our grandchildren so that they are not tempted to redefine the meaning of liberty for their own purposes—like so many do today.
GrandPause: Honor your parents because God said so—no matter what age you are. –James MacDonald
If we take the Bible seriously (you do, right?), then we know that finding a way to honor our parents, no matter who they have been, no matter what they have done, is a very significant action. I’m serious. The Bible is filled with stories of people who honored their parents and succeeded and of those who did not honor their parents and failed. If you’re alive, you’ve got parents (even if they are no longer living)—and God’s command is to honor them (see Exodus 20:12).
These words from James MacDonald, pastor of Chicago’s Harvest Bible Chapel, are important words for us to hear as grandparents. When Father’s Day comes around, do we think about our own fathers and our responsibility to honor them? What example and message do we send to our grandchildren by the manner in which we treat or speak of our own fathers?