We all have a story. It’s called our life. I think of my career often when I look back on my life; probably because so many years of my life were lived at work. It’s amazing when I think that I worked almost 35 years at the same company. That’s about 12,775 days, 306,600 hours or 18,396,000 minutes (subtract out the weekends and sleeping hours and you’ll get a more accurate account of the time I spent at work–I never was good at math). Add another 20 plus years to that and you get my entire life up to this point.
A friend at work told me before I retired, “Make sure you have a plan. So many people retire without a plan and they end up dead within a year or two.” While this advice was good it was also frightening. If I didn’t have a plan, I might die within 2 years? I did have a plan though so I had no reason to fear, right? My plan was to live alarm-clock free from the first day after the last day on the job. Other than that, I had no clue. I just knew I was ready to spend more time with my family and do some things that I had not been able to do in my working years because of time constraints. For example, I would have lunch with my grandkids at their schools. I would volunteer for Vacation Bible School. I would teach Sunday School, I would find a non-profit to work with. And, I would write a book–my lifelong dream.
I learned very quickly that this thing called retirement wasn’t as easy as it sounded. The first two weeks were spent cleaning out closets, doing some deep cleaning, which I had never had time for when I worked an 8-hour job, rearranging furniture and making lists of what to do next. Then, it occurred to me. I was getting my house organized and spotless so that when I died within the first two years into retirement no one could say my house was a mess!
Enough of that!!! I sat down and started writing a book. A year later I had a manuscript, not yet published, but still I am proud it of to this day. Lots of other things happened during that year also. After all, I couldn’t spend every waking hour only writing a book.
I want to go back to the year before I retired before I go on with my story because it’s this event that led me to make the decision to retire from my job of almost 35 years. And it’s this event that changed my life and gave me a new direction and purpose. I went to church after 7 years of being away from the Lord. At a Sunday night concert I had an encounter with God. It was much like the encounter that I had when I asked Jesus to come into my heart and save me. On this Sunday night I was enjoying music from two singers I had grown to love as a teenager. These two singers, Babbie Mason and Andrae’ Crouch, sang and spoke for several hours and the Holy Spirit descended into the sanctuary and hovered over me the entire evening. God used Andrae’s testimony to speak to me and open my heart back up to Him. The night following the concert (and three other nights within a week’s time), God came to me in dreams. This first night I heard a song and God told me to wake up. I was tempted to lay in bed and go back to sleep when I felt God telling me to wake up and go write down the words to the song. It was at that very moment that I remembered Andrae’s testimony when he said, “God told me to GET UP, and go write that song.” God was telling me to “WAKE UP and GET UP, and go write down the words of the song I just gave you.” So, I did. During the concert I had whispered to God that I was returning to Him and that I would become obedient to Him. Maybe this dream was a test. I don’t know, but I wasn’t going to just lie there. So I got up, wrote down the words, and slipped back into bed.
This phenomenon happened three other nights and at the end of the week, on the seventh day, it was clear I had a song. The first night God had given me the chorus. The second night was the first verse, then the second verse, and then the bridge. Through many other miraculous encounters the song was recorded within about 8 months of my “awakening”. It was during this waiting period that I discovered my love of writing and more importantly my love for God. And I Bow Down, became the song that God gave me. It was not just a song, it was God’s gift to me; a message to me that I was to share with the world. I was made to bow down and worship Him. And, that is my quest today.
I retired a few months after the song was released and my entire life has changed. My marriage has become Christ centered. My grandchildren are growing like weeds. My children have their own lives, and actually ask for my advice from time to time. A defining moment for me regarding our household change was when our son said something like this during a conversation we were having, “Well I’m not going to to say what I was thinking because this is a Jesus house.” It gives me joy to think that others see our home as a Jesus house. I didn’t set out to make it so, but it is just that. J
Joshua 24:14-15 King James Version (KJV), “ Now therefore, fear the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods that your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the god of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
God has a purpose for my life. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 3:6 KJV, “ In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.” And, He is directing my path. I have found that the things I want to do and the things He has for me may be two different things. When I surrender to Him and am obedient, I am much better off.
I look back on my career now and I can see how God designed it all. Every job I had has brought me to the place where I am now. God is using what I learned and experienced in my work life to help me in my new life. I learned how to teach, how to build and work with teams, how to deal with difficult people, how to recognize other cultures, and consider the other person’s needs. All of these things are necessary when teaching and mentoring women about their growth in Christ. All of these things are necessary when witnessing to the stranger in a foreign country while on mission for the Lord. All of these things are necessary when building new relationships and cultivating old ones. And all of these things are necessary in loving and caring for my husband, children, and grandchildren.
The thing about new seasons in life is that, while our circumstances may change, we never do. We stay the same. Sure, we may grow and adjust, but deep down we are still the same person–the child God created us to be.
Today I am enjoying this season of my life. In the mornings before I do anything else, I make a cup of coffee, sit in my comfy chair, open up my devotional and spend time with God. During the school year, I lead a women’s Bible study. So I spend a lot of time “studying” the Word. This one thing has brought me so much closer to God and has actually brought me into a loving relationship with Him. My life verses are found in Ephesians 6:10-18, which describe the armor of God. I fell in love with these powerful verses through a Bible study written by Priscilla Shirer. The devil is real and he wants to destroy us and our families. But God gives us the power that we need to fight against him. His instructions are in these verses.
I love this season of my life because I am loving the Lord. I can’t say enough about Him. If I could say one thing to the broken hearted woman who may be reading my story it’s this: I was once broken hearted and lonely. I hardly talk about it now because I have so much joy in my life. That’s what I love to share with people. God can wake you up, and speak to you in a dream. Or, He can simply whisper to your heart. It’s your choice to listen when you hear Him speak. You can experience a new season in your life too. One of a renewal of your faith, or one of salvation for the first time. There is no need to wait.
If you have never experienced the joy of a loving relationship with God and you want to make that choice today simply pray this prayer: “God, I am broken hearted, lonely, at the end of my rope. I know you are real. I know you sent your only son to die on a cross for my sin. I believe he died, and rose again and is with you in Heaven today. I ask you to come into my heart and save me. Amen”
If you prayed that prayer, you are beginning a new season too! I would encourage you to find a church home if you don’t have one. But, don’t stop there. Find a Bible study group to join so you can learn about God and have a personal relationship with Him. God bless you!