Next Steps

You can officially retire at the age of 55, while the average life expectancy is 79 years old. Give or take 24 years, every Christian has a decision to make about the twilight years of their life. The overwhelming consensus is simple: put life on cruise control, travel to see the grandkids and the world, and then slowly watch your body break down from years of neglect when you were younger and thought you were invincible. Whatever you do, don’t try anything new, daring anything close to resembling work.

The Old Testament hero of the faith Moses presents us with a completely different way to approach the last chapter in our lives. The book of Exodus quickly rifles through the majority of Moses’ life but spends the bulk of its time chronicling what happened to Moses after he turned 80. In fact, four books: Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are all dedicated to what happened to Moses and the Israelites after Moses turned 80.

One simple verse in Exodus reminds us that you’re never too old to start your life’s greatest work (Exodus 7:7). The burning bush, the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the Ten Commandments all started after Moses turned 80. How incredible is that! If you’re of retirement age and you’re reading this, don’t fall into the trap of assuming that God will never ask you to do anything new or daring once you hang up your work shoes. You have knowledge, wisdom and resources that can literally make a world of difference in the lives of those around you.

If you’re not of retirement age and you’re reading this, make wiser decisions today so that tomorrow you can answer the call if God chooses to start your greatest life’s work after retirement. Take care of your body, eat right, maintain the emotional and mental health needed to achieve great things. Put yourself in a position so that once you hit 80, instead of watching your body break down from years of neglect you can finally get started on your greatest life’s work.

Imagine a dead end job with no ladder to climb, no objectives to achieve and little to no interaction with other coworkers. Now imagine that this job is well out of cell phone and internet coverage and so you don’t have that trusted appendage, your cell phone to occupy your time. Now imagine that this dead end job was your entire career, the forty prime-earning years of your life. Depressed yet? Congratulations! You just imagined yourself as Moses!

After growing up in a life of privilege and opportunity in Pharaoh’s household, Moses becomes a fugitive because of a murder charge and at the age of forty finds himself living in the desert of the Sinai peninsula herding sheep. A prince of Egypt is now watching sheep eat grass, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, you get the picture. But what Moses might have seen as punishment God saw as preparation. In his desert experience, Moses was being emptied of himself and learning humility, because you can’t expect God to fill you up until you’re emptied of yourself. Deserts are great for that. And although Moses didn’t know it at the time, God knew that the people of Israel would soon need a leader who knew the ins and outs of how to survive in a desert for long periods of time. The desert wasn’t punishment for Moses; it was preparation.

What desert experience do you find yourself in? What forgotten corner of the world do you feel like God’s left you in? Do you feel left on the sidelines of life? Do you feel that God is silent? Are you fruitlessly searching for significance? You’re in a desert. But don’t see the desert as punishment; see it as preparation. God is emptying you of yourself so He can fill you up with Himself. God is using the desert to prepare you for your destiny, so make the most of the desert while you’re there.

QUESTION: What desert do you find yourself in? How can you bloom in the desert?

What is it that gets under your skin for Jesus? What do you get righteously angry about? What situation, scenario or circumstance makes you want to be like your Savior and start turning over tables in the temple? What prayer request do you bring before God again and again, saying, “God, you need to do something!”? While you’re staring at God wondering why He’s not moving and doing something about it, He’s looking at you wondering the same thing. You just might be the answer to your own prayers.

In Isaiah 6 the prophet Isaiah has an encounter with Almighty God. In this supernatural exchange Isaiah admits “’Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty‘” (Isaiah 6:5). Isaiah knew that there was sin among his people. When God decided to move, He looked for someone to be the answer, and Isaiah raised his hand:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’

And I said, Here am I. Send me!‘” (Isaiah 6:8)

Isaiah was the answer to his own prayers. When God gives you a righteous burden, a divine angst about a situation or circumstance that needs to be made right, we stop far short if we simply feel bad about the injustice. Many Christians decide to bring the matter before God in prayer, but even that stops short of God’s plan for us. If God gives you a burden He’s giving you a direction to move. If He gives you a righteous anger He’s giving you your marching orders.

Go in the power and guidance of the Spirit. Right the wrongs around you. Bind up the broken. Heal the hurting. Give solace to the brokenhearted. Provide for the needy. If you’ve been praying that God would move and do something in a certain situation for sometime now, congratulations! You are the answer to your own prayers.

QUESTION: What prayer is God telling you that you’re the answer to?

Have you ever driven past a billboard that had too much information on it to read as you drove by? It’s as if they expected you to slow down long enough to read all that they had to say. What a crazy thought! We live in a world of speed and distraction. Technology helps our lives speed up to 100 mph, accomplishing more and more in our limited time. It’s why we get frustrated when there are three cars in the fast food drive-thru or when we have to wait 45 seconds for something to heat up in the microwave. It’s also why our phones are constantly with us, notifying us, drawing us in, creating a haze of white noise around us that precludes us from ever being quiet. We live in a world of speed and distraction, which is why we don’t hear God like we want to.

In 1 Kings 19, the prophet Elijah has an encounter with God on a holy mountain in the desert.

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. 1 Kings 19:11-13

Did you catch that? God wasn’t in the wind, the earthquake or the fire. He wasn’t in the big, the bold, the brash, the loud. God was in the quiet, the gentle, the whisper. Many times God speaks to us in a whisper, not because He’s not strong enough to shout over the distractions in our lives, but because He wants us to slow down long enough to connect with our souls, and our souls are a very quiet place. If you want to hear God, slow down enough to hear the whisper of God.

QUESTION: How are you slowing down on a regular basis to hear the whisper of God? If you’re not, how can you do that this week?