Andrew McMillan Wednesday, September 19, 2012
When men retire and take off the heavy coat of alarm clocks, troubles, stress and deadlines, they still feel the weight for the first few weeks as if the coat were even heavier. They think it must phantom weight, the way an amputee still feels his leg. But as the months go by, the weight is heavier and sharper. The stress turns into fear. The pressure of a tight schedule turns into the dread of a short life. And the uneasiness of not getting things done turns into the question if we have done anything at all. Suddenly it dawns on him that the heavy coat of business was shielding him from the heavier matters of what really matters. Like Mohammad Ali once said, “ The only thing I’m worried about is living forever.”
Along the beach, the retired walk furiously trying to extend life a few years. Even when we were 55, we called ourselves as middle aged, as if we would live to a 110. When we were kids and heard about an older person dying, we thought, “O well, he was old.” But now that we are older, we think, ”Oh, nuts”. We pick up novels, hobbies, and new interest to buffer ourselves from thoughts like, “Where will I be five seconds after I die?”
It is nice to know the Bible is not a nice book. It is not about how to be nicer. It is about what really matters: life, death, birth, new birth, judgment, and ends with a wedding. We crack jokes at funerals and joke about the Bible because we cannot just stare silently at eternity. Maybe we are not afraid of death. Like Woody Allen said, we just don’t want to be there when it happens. But we will be. Hey, I don’t even want to be there for a prostrate exam but I can’t send a proxy. But when the time comes, there will be someone there. The book of Hebrews says the Jesus has come to deliver us from the life long fear of death. Also, Paul said if the resurrection of Jesus was a hoax, we are really screwed (I Corinthians 15:18-19). If it is true, imagine. I dare you to imagine. It would be like waking up as a kid again on the first day of an unending summer. It would make our last years deep with the gold light of eternity. We could sleep in forgiveness. We could say what we mean to our family and friends. We could be peaceful enough to do a few things that really matter. That old dirty coat would be ripped away and we would be draped with a clean well-fitting coat warming us on cold nights.
Retire means to withdraw. It could mean to lean forward as a hand glider sure the invisible will lift him higher.