Retirement can really mess with your mind. On the one hand, the freedom from the calendar is incredible. Meetings are minimal, responsibilities, too. Not having the pressure of weekly sermons is like having a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. It feels good.
On the other hand, it's the interactions with people that add such interest and significance to life. Coming from an introvert like myself, that is a pretty big admission. But it's true. A life consisting of no more than doing whatever one wants at the moment soon shrinks to a shriveled caricature of what it is meant to be. I didn't accomplish everything I had planned for today, but it was full beyond measure. Breakfast with my friend Willie, an hour in prayer with fellow pastors, visits to the hospital, mental health clinic, and a nursing home, before taking a Starbucks break to work on a sermon that turned into visiting with three sisters who were doing a little after-Christmas shopping. Finally, my weekly coffee and donut visit with a friend whose life was turned upside down by a stroke a few years ago, and dinner with my wife.
Part of me cringes at a day like that, and to be honest, I'm glad every day is not as full of people, but I am grateful that today was. It was a reminder to me that the Gospel is not merely about theology; it's about a God whose love for mankind was more than theoretical. It involved real people in real life circumstances. And as John says, How can we say we love the God we haven't seen if we don't love the brother we have seen? I can't tell how much, if any, good I did for those I visited, but I prayed with most of them, and for all of them. As much as I like and need my alone time, I also need people. Today was full of them, and I am thankful tonight.