I used to hear retirees say that they quickly discovered that they were much busier after they retired than they had ever been before. My own father-in-law once told me that he found that he could never seem to get everything done once he retired; and that he often wondered how he had ever gotten anything done back when he was working.
Let me simply state that I am beginning to appreciate these sentiments. When people ask me how I am enjoying retirement, I tell them that I do not yet know. This is because I seem to be working harder now than I did before I officially retired. My wife and I spent the first week of my so-called retirement packing up and moving my books and other possessions out of the church office.
I spent the second week running a million errands, making changes in accounts, swapping phone and internet service, etc, etc…
And now, in this third week, my wife and I have finally turned our attention to our home as we prepare to sell it in order to transition to our new place of residence. As any of you who have ever sold a home, moved to a new community, and gotten established there well know, this process can be daunting.
Unfortunately, all of these things have unfolded in the midst of the worst pandemic of the modern era, as the impact of the coronavirus has now begun making itself known in unprecedented ways in all of our lives.
I will admit that those folks who told me that there would be a certain amount of insecurity brought on by normal life changes associated with retirement were correct. My wife and I have experienced each of these things in turn. But in many ways, these uncertainties in our life have only been intensified and exacerbated by the societal impact of the Covid-19 virus.
Like many of you with aging parents and/or small grandchildren, my wife and I cannot help but be concerned about what is happening in the world around us. For this reason, we have tried to hunker down and wait things out, dutifully practicing social distancing in the process.
All of this is certainly bad enough; but when being cooped up indoors is compounded by the excessive amount of rain we have been experiencing here in east Tennessee, one can quickly grow weary of the whole ordeal. And this leads me to my point. It seems the Lord knew this servant of His needed some encouragement in light of all these past few weeks have had to offer.
As I was communing with Him in my heart over these very things early this morning, I happened to look out the window and see a most beautiful sight. There, in the midst of the early morning mist, after yet another night of terrible storms, sat perched on a branch just outside my window a single bright red cardinal.
This may not seem like much to you; but to me, in that moment, it was a powerful statement about the presence, the power, and the plan of Almighty God. In a world seemingly full of repetitive dreariness and uncertainty, there shown forth a profound testament to God’s creative ability! The stark contrast between the glorious red of that bird and its colorless surroundings spoke volumes about the power of Almighty God to provide hope in the midst of uncertain times!
In that one moment, as a simple cardinal sat singing away outside my window, a dark stormy night was giving way to a bright shining day! A season of dreary winter was giving way to a season of dynamic spring! In short, a season of death was giving way to season of life!
I, for one, needed that reassurance. Like Noah of old, the world I had known was no more. The 40 plus years spent as a Pastor seemed to have disappeared all too quickly; only to be replaced by a time of uncertainty cooped up in a dreary ark with little more than the list of tomorrow’s chores awaiting me for distraction. Such circumstances can try one’s soul.
I was reminded of the Biblical story of Noah and his family as they found themselves cooped up on the ark. After 150 straight days of rain, the Biblical Book of Genesis (in chapter 8, verses 8-11) tells us that the following took place…
8Then Noah sent out a dove to see if the waters had receded from the surface of the ground. 9But the dove found no place to rest her foot, and she returned to him in the ark, because water still covered the surface of all the earth. So he reached out his hand and brought her back inside the ark.
10Noah waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. 11And behold, the dove returned to him in the evening with a freshly plucked olive leaf in her beak. So Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth.
I trust you see my point. Right then and there, in a single instant, just as He had done for Noah of old, God sent me a simple little bird. And the bird He sent aptly testified to His plans for the future, in order to remind me that He still had plans for this world, and for my me and my place in it!
You see, like Noah of old, I too saw a “bird of passage”, reminding me that the old was passing away and the new was coming to be. Clearly, God is even now in the process of making all things new, both in this world and in my life.
I presume that Noah never forgot that single dove and the leaf representing newness of life in its mouth. In like manner, I too will always cherish the memory of that single cardinal and the message it had about the future!
What about you? Are you weary of what life has served up? Do you find yourself tempted to give way to fear and doubt as a result? Then take heart, my friend; for you are not alone! And take it from this servant of the one true God – He is not done with either this world or with you and your place in it! If you want proof of this, then simply ask Him for it. I assure you, my friend - He will certainly deliver it!
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: https://biblehub.com/bsb/genesis/8.htm.