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A few weeks ago, I announced my retirement. Since that time, I have found myself living in a strange space. It is the land of the already and the not yet. 

I am attending meetings where we are making plans. It is the key for successful ministry. The strange part is that I will not be here to see most of these plans realized. I find myself worrying about summer schedules, fall planning, and future ministry details. This has been my life for 43 years. But now I don’t have to worry about them. It is not my problem any longer. But by not worrying about them I feel like a slacker and that I am letting down my teammates. They have been good about letting me know what I must worry about and what I can let go. 

Ah, yes, letting go: a great concept, a difficult one for me to practice.

It is a strange space.

I have realized that I am experiencing a series of “lasts”. 

I participated in my last congregational meeting as a full-time pastor.  Next week I will participate in my last Ash Wednesday service.  It will kick off my last season of Lent and then my last Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter as a full-time pastor.  Following Easter, I will only have four more Sundays at Elmhurst CRC. (One weekend in May I will be out of town officiating a wedding).  In May, there will be a series of “last” meetings.

It is a strange space.

My identity will change. 

Men tend to find their identity in what they do. Our profession becomes our identity. After 43 years, I will no longer be doing full-time what I have always done.  Will I experience an identity crisis?  I know that my identity is in Christ. Above all things I am a Christ-follower and everything springs forth from that identity.  However, will what I know transfer into reality? My hope is that I am spiritually and emotionally mature enough not to feel lost once I am no longer involved in full-time ministry. One of my goals in retirement is to spend more time with my family which should be a primary identity for me. However, I wonder. 

It is a strange space.

Since announcing my retirement I have received lots of advice.  I am starting a new phase of life and others who have traveled that road have wisdom to offer.  One friend whom I respect said, “Make sure you have a purpose.  You need a reason to get up every day.”  Is a tee time a purpose?  Is leisurely reading the morning paper a purpose?  Is a day at the beach a purpose?  I think he had something more substantial in mind. On the one hand, spending more quality time with Becky and my family is a powerful purpose.  But, I will need something more because they will get sick of me after a while!  Having a purpose is important, but I am not that worried about it because I trust that God will provide.

The already and the not yet, it is a strange space.

~ Rev