Arriving at the corner of Aging Avenue and Dependence Drive, in Graytown, Anywhere, I find myself wondering how much longer I’ll be able to serve my Lord, His church, my family, friends, and strangers.
In my late 80s, I’m still considered independent, but I’m really not. I seldom cook, and even then it’s the complication of a major-simplistic endeavor. I don’t drive anymore. My husband chauffeurs Miss Daisy, we live in an independent retirement community (out of necessity, even though I’m anti-retirement), and life is not quick-paced. With a degenerative disease, to get around with some semblance of independence I require a cane, a walker, or a scooter. But does this make me unable?
Though I do little housekeeping, I still manage laundry, mending, and ironing (while sitting). Not much, is it?
Yet I still work at my profession: freelance writing. Most of my hours are spent writing interviews, devotionals, articles, poetry, press releases, and letters from a recliner, because I can’t sit at a desk for long.
Though I can’t be “out there” working as a journalist anymore, getting the stories by face-to-face interviews, I can do it all by e-mail. Modern technology is amazing. I continue to receive assignments from magazine editors, and I also submit unsolicited material. Why?
Sometimes I’m asked, “Wouldn’t your aging years be easier without the press of deadlines?” The hard part for me would be not to carry on, because God gifted me with the ability to reach others through words. I enjoy the interchange with people that life as a writer provides. I’ve never found any Bible admonition that total retirement is a requirement of old age.
My work is a gift I prayed for, though I knew not for what I prayed, except that God might favor me with a ministry to bring honor and glory to Him. I thanked Him in advance. By the time I’d reached age 40, I discovered that a writer lived inside me, and I launched into a lifelong service.
Terry Benedict, award-winning Seventh-day Adventist filmmaker, founder of the Shae Foundation, and recent producer of Hacksaw Ridge, shares his discovery about being created in God’s image when God brought the animals to Adam to name (see Gen. 2:19). Imagine being newly created and given all that responsibility! Adam hadn’t even been an intern in life. Afterward, Adam surely must have bowed low before God, just as an accomplished violinist might do, in gratitude for the creative privilege.
Benedict refers to our tasks as “art with accountability.” But one doesn’t have to be an artist, as he is, to create. All our work, white collar or blue collar, is creation of some kind, because God made us that way, in His image.
For those relegated to the retirement pasture, our intriguing journey of service can continue. We don’t need to lie down and check out. Thus, arriving at the two corners is no reason to come to a full stop. I’ve been at many crossroads before, especially crisscrossing the country with moves. Yet God has always had new, unexpected assignments waiting.
Though first and foremost I’m a Christian writer, my work also includes select secular writing. My secular service is no different from, for instance, being a Christian secretary who works for a business. I pray to do the best I can to serve those who employ my services. To always meet deadlines and fulfill the requirements expected keeps me on my toes. Thus, I’m keeping my mental faculties healthy. My daily walking regimen is no more. However, I keep my brain well exercised and serve at the same time.
A fine satisfaction for me as a writer is sharing the how-to of it with others. To see the bylines of those who study with me is greatly rewarding.
The best part of a writing ministry, however, is to write that which turns hearts to God. The Bible admonishes, “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord” (Ps. 102:18). The entire psalm is a lament, but one with hope! Christian writers desire to leave their readers with hope. And if I can pass any advice on that contains the fragrance of heaven, I’d like it to be that young writers use their words as a ministry.
I find sacred excitement in the writings of today’s youth. They are honest about all facets of life and seem unafraid to approach the subjects that need approaching. Superabundant ways of communicating are available to them. As I read their words and sense their passion to reach readers with the story of Jesus, I admire them, and pray for these verdant scribes. May the young write or do whatever God designed for them with fervor to draw others to praise Jesus.
Yet as an anti-retirement advocate I realize that being at the corner of Aging Avenue and Dependence Drive may be even more reason to continue in the image God made me. Retirement? Forget it. I have too much to do.
At age 86 Betty Kossick writes from Apopka, Florida. Joy in Jesus is her motto. Her e-mail address is [email protected].