Lent Devotional – Life Reflections
March 23, 2023 Creekwood United Methodist Church

Perceived Value - Deep Thoughts

Posted in Deep Thoughts

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Now That I’m Retired, I See More

“How do I see God working in my life now that I am retired?”

Retirement provides a distinct opportunity for reflection upon one’s life journey and at least in my case it has provided me with insight into both where I have failed in my Christian life and where I have felt God’s presence.

Relationships have always been important to me and I mean deep and mutually beneficial relationships among friends, fellow workers, cousins, my own children and their friends and families and wherever you tread during what I now realize is just a very short journey through your own life.

Some background would be helpful to understand the earlier phases of my life which are in contrast to how I see God working in my life in retirement today.

Starting out in life in a small town in a Presbyterian church without a strong youth focused, bible based Christian education meant that as I grew through my teenage years church was not a priority. So, I was not Christ-focused, consistent with decisions nor did I allow myself the benefit of letting my faith lead me as I began to make decisions on my own.

When I became a junior in college I was married and had a daughter and was working hard and going to school and again my focus was paying for the majority of my education and living expenses. Immediately after graduation, I was commissioned in the US Army and arrived in Germany now with two children and although we began to bring in prayer with our children again I remained focused on making ends meet for our young family.

Upon our return to the US our children were reaching school age and we joined a Methodist church in Oklahoma City attending church many Sundays and the children became involved in Sunday school. My focus was on trying to establish myself on a career path, then a move to Dayton, Ohio and later to Richardson. Finally, the importance of our personal and parental responsibilities took hold and we joined a Methodist church and our children became involved in youth fellowship activities.

This led us to become involved in a Methodist Marriage Encounter program where its principles of spousal communication and Christ focused life began to take hold and this brought more meaning to our married life and our family life.

However, my life with Christ has not been a remarkable journey because for much of my life He was not the center of my universe nor on the top rung of my own priority list. Working hard to support my own young family begun in my junior year in college became a necessity. I now realize that my life was out of balance but I was unable to bring life into the right balance.

My desire to excel in my work career and my travel became a wedge in my first marriage and after both children graduated from college our marriage dissolved. I was broken hearted that I had not been a better husband and father and began a personal journey to focus back on finding a Christian centered life.

Looking back now it is crystal clear to me any life focus without Christ being the highest rung on the ladder puts your own life and that of your family on a weak foundation. This leads to generation skipping and weakens the family Christian base structure so important in marriage relationships and in bringing children to Christ.

As I was approaching retirement, Karol and I got married and together we found a better Christian foundation when we moved to Cedar Creek Lake. We became regular Church attendees, both were baptized again, and we began to work as CASA volunteers where the realities of life are exposed in so many awful ways as children are removed from very difficult environments.

We marvel now at young families in Creekwood who get involved in church missions like Open Door and bring their children along to learn how God works through them to enrich the life of someone who lives the life of a Special Adult.

My message to others: Get involved, build Christ centered relationships, serve in discipleship and mission work, share your time and most importantly financially support the Church. The earlier in life that becomes a habit the better your life will be for without it life can be a struggle of significant magnitude. Being God centered brings an inner peace that shines a light that brings in others who want to share what you want to share.

Retirement and the last period in one’s life is frankly too late to reflect on what you wish you had done in an earlier time. Catching up is not the best way to enjoy retirement . . . but it still inspires me each morning to do better.

Now with 10 grandchildren (now a cousins network) between us and two great grandchildren, we are encouraging their parents to ‘find a church, put Christ first in their lives and to study the Bible each day’. I feel that there has been a generation skipping (or maybe two) that has happened where too many diversions have led parents away from the Church and I am so impressed with the programs within Creekwood where that seems to be turning around lives each day. The Lord is happy about that.

In summary, earlier is better . . . but it is never too late to acknowledge Christ as your Savior and work at it incessantly. Prayer abounds throughout the world and the power of prayer is so powerful.

Jack Stone

dust covered Bible

Lent Daily Bible Reading Through the Gospel According to Luke

Today’s reading: Luke 15:11-32

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