I returned to work after recovering from the flu. The first thing I heard was that Wayne had passed unexpectedly. Though he was older, he kept working. I immediately thought about Jim, who had retired with plans to travel all over the US. Within a month, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Others I knew had retired and then felt the empty job syndrome (similar to the empty nest syndrome.) Without a job to give their life meaning, they got depressed, and seemed to wither and die. I thought, do I want to work until I die, or do I want to retire and sit at home, feeling I no longer had value? NO! I wanted an adventure, one that had a deeper value component. That is it would give my life even more meaning than continuing to work.
I have put in to retire in a week. We have bought airplane tickets and made reservations for two months in Portugal. We may do a little traveling up to France or Holland after the two months before coming back home. Why two months? We spent one week there and now want to try a longer time to see if both of us would enjoy spending years there. I am going to be posting blogs about what it is like for us to go to another culture and what we do to try to adapt, but I would like to now write a little more about why this decision.
We have been living in Tennessee for three years, and have been working in local churches. Even though we are both ministers, they have not been using our talents much. When we went to Portugal last year, in the eight days, I met people who expressed a spiritual hunger. I find that many people, even in Christian churches like Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal, or Methodist seem to still be hung up on a religion of works. I want to talk to them about the religion of Grace. I don’t argue, but to the spiritually hungry, I explain the freedom and peace of the Gospel.
Of course, I want to travel and see many European cities, visit historical sites, hike, bike, kayak, and swim in parks and oceans, but without being part of people’s lives, loving and helping them, those activities would quickly feel empty. Still, expect my blog to have many adventures, including language learning misadventures, shopping misadventures, etc. For example, where in Europe do I find the European equivalent of US size 13 shoes. I can guarantee from my last visit that almost no one carries them. On foods and restaurants, I’ll probably buy the expensive American version until I stumble across the much cheaper Portuguese way of doing things. A quick slap to the forehead and a mutter of dummy will precede my smile of victory.
When it comes to that deeper component, I sometimes wonder what happened to that shy insecure young man that I was. God has taken me through many rough and some good times. I have learned to believe Him that I am worthwhile and need hang my head low before no man. Thus, where I would lock myself in my room for fear of failure, I have slowly grown to the point where even the thought of the unknown is exciting. As I develop a circle of friends to practice my Portuguese, I will start with them, talking about the Gospel, and the indwelling power of God. These meeting will also be in the blogs. As for you, I hope you have the power of God in you, healing you, and making you hunger and thirst for Adventure with meaning.