We sat over coffee. Me thrilled for her. And she thrilled for herself. She, who’s nearing what our culture would call the “retirement years,” who’s almost to the age when she and her husband could relax, play golf, and live out the end of their American-dream with toes in the sand under golden sunsets. Their children are grown, married, thriving. They’ve been frugal, and have no debt. They’re free.
Yet, they aren’t choosing the golden glow of relaxation and comfort. They’re instead choosing a third-world country and service among those who have not. They’re choosing to live on the support of those who believe in oversea’s missions. No steady paycheck there. Certainly no growing retirement fund.
But they’re thrilled. They’re thrilled to be living a different dream.
And I’m so proud of her.
I’m convicted by her choice.
I’m challenged and honored and glad that God’s letting me watch her go.
She’ll have to learn a new language in the second half-century of her life, knowing that language-learning neurons click more slowly after 50. She’ll not be stashing away savings for her 70s. She’ll be far from her children and grandchildren. She’s leaving air-conditioning, and food-convenience, and ease. She knows all that.
But she’s obeying her Lord’s call upon her life. And she’s exhilarated, honored that God has called her in this exact way.
I ask myself: Which life am I really interested in? Am I interested in abandoning self-interest in all areas? Or am I interested in following Christ only in certain areas, holding out and holding back — in bits here and bits there — for my own carefully-crafted life-plans. As C.S. Lewis says of the person completely given over to the will of God:
Their “will has been turned round, reconditioned, and made into a new thing. The will of Christ no longer limits theirs; it is theirs. All their time, in belonging to Him, belongs also to them, for they are His.”
God may not call you or me to a third-world country in our 50s. But He is calling each of us to something and someone somewhere. Today. No matter our age.
As I drove away from our conversation, I kept remembering Lewis’s words, and even more so, Jesus’ admonition:
“I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne … everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.” (Matthew 19:28-30)
I also kept thinking of Corrie ten Boom, who was already in her 50s when her family first hid a Jew from the Nazis. She, her sister and elderly father could have easily decided they were too old and tired to help. But help they did.
And after hiding and savings hundreds, Corrie and her family were betrayed by neighbors and taken to concentration camps. Her sister and father died. Corrie lived, and she certainly could have left the horror and anguish of the Nazi camp embittered. But no. Instead, she went on and, into her 70s, worked to proclaim God’s goodness worldwide. She glorified Him until her death in her early 90s.
Her story has always inspired me to walk closely with the Lord, and especially so as I grow older.
Now, I have a new friend who’s doing the same.