I’ve dreamed many dreams that never came true …
I’ve seen them vanish at dawn.
But enough of my dreams have come true,
to make me want to dream on.
I’ve prayed many prayers when no answer came …
Though I waited patiently and long.
But answers have come to enough of my prayers,
to make me want to pray on.
I’ve trusted many a friend who failed me,
And left me to weep all alone,
But enough of my friends have been true blue,
to make me want to trust on.
I’ve sown many seeds that fell by the way for the birds of the air to feed on.
But I’ve held enough golden sheaves in my hands,
to make me want to sow on.
I’ve drunk the cup of disappointment and pain.
I’ve gone many days without song.
But I’ve sipped enough nectar from the roses of life,
to make me want to live on.
In my mind, retirement always belonged to “those older people” who had passed their most useful days of ministry. We lovingly watched as others entered this stage of their lives, never really anticipating that one day, we too would belong to that group. This past fall, however, my husband and I retired from our pastorate, having completed 46 years of ministry in the Body of Christ, and the Foursquare Church in particular.
As retirees, the amount of concessions afforded us is amazing! Restaurants, parks and hotels give us discounts; magazines are published specifically for us, and the health field directs its attention to us in a constant barrage of new medical plans to supplement Medicare. We are forced to make new decisions concerning our lives and future. Change seems to be a constant for us, and it fills many of the prayers we pray.
Recently, in the apartment building where we live, the need to remain open to change even in the small details of life, was illustrated for me. It was a Monday morning and I had filled the washing machines in our community laundry, when a retired lady came in, looked at me with anger and said, “I have lived in this apartment building for twenty years, and I have always washed first thing on Monday mornings. You have ruined my day!” I returned to my apartment praying, “Oh Lord, keep me flexible. Don’t let me become rigid and unable to flow with life’s changes, small or large.”
In relating to the Church, we are happy to submit to the leadership of the younger generation, for this is right. But at the same time, we are still Salt and Light; Jesus made us that, and that we will be until He calls us “Home.” We thrill when a soul is born again. We rejoice in the victories of the Church, and we encourage the younger pastors who have taken our place to preach the Word, pressing toward the mark for the prize of the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus.
We also request your understanding. In your ministry to us, please don’t expect us to totally change, for there are some things that we do cherish. We are still moved by some of the old songs that have sustained us down through the years. We love to hear a preacher proclaim those proven truths of God’s Word and stir our hearts with eloquence and anointing. Most of all, we need your care and support as we face what might be the most challenging time of our lives.
The poem which I have included above must have been written by someone who has walked along the pathway of life some distance and learned from that walk the things that are truly important. I know they express my sentiments at this time in my life.
A Retired Shepherd,
(This article first appeared in the “Letters From Gladys” column in Foursquare Advance Magazine, 1989, and again on the LifewordsToday blog in February, 2016 – we are reposting it today because the message is timeless. We are happy to report she was vibrant in other forms of ministry for another 20 years until God called her Home in 2009.)