An Early Retirement

As you grow up, the next phase of your life is determined by increments of time.

You’re in kindergarten. And after 1 year, you’re going on to the 1st grade. Maybe you were surprised by this; maybe you weren’t. But when another year passes, and you find yourself in the 2nd grade, you start getting the hang of it. You know exactly what’s coming up next.

You progress through elementary school, and on you go to middle school, junior high, and high school. Up until this point, you’ve always known what’s coming up next, and you’ve known how long it was going to take.

You could then choose to further your education with degrees and certifications before jumping into the workforce, and in this case, you can still hold onto the certainty of a timeline. It may take an extra semester or two, but you still have tangible requirements you’re working on to prepare yourself for the next phase. And the next phase?

A job.

Now, for me, a job was tricky. For the first time in my life, I didn’t know how long that phase of my life would last. I had spent 13 years in grade school and 4 years in college. But how long does work take?

Not to mention that I didn’t like work. I didn’t like sitting in front of a computer all day. I didn’t like not being the one who decided how I could spend my time. But I had hope!

Work was not the last phase. There was one more waiting for me. The final phase. The best phase.

Ah retirement. No more work. No more exchanging your time for a paycheck. At last… freedom.

I made up my mind that I wanted to hurry on to the last phase as quickly as possible, and I made a plan for an early retirement. I ran all the projections, and I was very excited to see my plan start coming together. I had a timeline again. Granted, a very loose one. But I was excitedly anticipating this last phase in life.

Let’s pause right there.

. . .

“The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”‘”

“But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

. . .

We’ve read this parable hundreds of times. The problem with this man isn’t his money: it’s his attitude. And that’s true. But I will always remember when I first saw Randy Alcorn use an interesting phrase to describe this rich man’s endeavors.

An early retirement.

Here we see a great businessman. This businessman wisely creates a plan to accommodate an increase in production, and prevent it from going to waste. As a result, he has an opportunity for something wonderful.

Early retirement.

That’s the American dream, right? And yet what does God call him? A fool.

I remember when I first saw this through the lens of “early retirement”, I realized how much Satan had influenced the way I see money.

I wanted to be faithful with a little, so that God would give me a lot. I wanted money and the freedom that came with it. I wanted the ability to drop what I was doing and go on a cruise with my family. I wanted to be in charge of my time. I also wanted to have the means to give to missionaries and good causes. But not out of a desire to further God’s kingdom, but so that I wouldn’t feel like I was being neglectful.

My focus had been all wrong, and it needed to change.

. . .

Today, I have no idea when I will retire. I have no idea if I will retire. But I do know that there is no such thing as “my money”, and that all I see belongs to God. It is my mission to ensure that possessions are utilized for eternal impact.

Yes, the problem with the rich man in the parable was his heart: his lack of alignment with God’s will. But would he still have been pursuing an early retirement if his purpose had been in line with God’s?

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