lessons from a retired mechanic

i’ve had several conversations lately about the “your best life later” concept and i feel compelled to further illustrate what i’m trying to say.  in no way am i condoning destitution, nor am i suggesting that comfort is sinful and hardship equals holiness.  and i’m not saying that jesus preached a “poverty gospel,” or that he compels us to live lives of physical deprivation. 

my contention is that if our focus/passion/goal is to have a better life here on earth, then we have missed the point of the gospel.  i pursue him/his will (not me/my will) and he will see that i have “life, and have it to the full.”

maybe it’s because i’m getting older, but this truth is becoming so much clearer to me.  i don’t know how i missed it for so long.

there is a gentleman in my fellowship who recently retired.  he went to work at the local caterpillar dealership as a very young man, and spent more than forty years working on massive tractors.  i used to pop in to his workplace from time-to-time and find him up to  his elbows in transmission fluid.  a quiet, jolly man, he never complained about his job, but it soon became obvious to me that he looked forward to the weekend (short-term) and retirement (long-term).  well, he recently “pulled the plug” and seems to be enjoying life without responsibility (he lost his wife a few years  back).

this past sunday, he got to church early (as he always does…he covets the back row) and i stopped by to shake hands and visit for a moment.  when i asked how he was, he replied, “couldn’t be better…this is the second best place i could possibly be.”  thinking of his recent retirement, i said “i guess your number one would be a fishin’ hole.”  as he is a man not given to hyperbole, i was taken back when he answered, “no, the only place i’d rather be than here is in heaven.”

i remembered how i used to inwardly judge this man for what i perceived as a lack of ambition.  “instead of enduring this job until retirement,” i would wonder, “why doesn’t he do something else?  make something of himself?”  last sunday morning, for the first time, i saw how right he is and how wrong i am.  if it’s a better job we’re living for, or greater success or even retirement, then we are, as paul said, “to be pitied more than all men.”

this humble mechanic has become my teacher.  he understands “kingdom” as jesus defined it.  he gets it.  he may live another thirty years.  or forty.  but he embraces the idea that no matter how great it gets (or miserable, for that matter), he will never enjoy his best life while he is drawing breath on this earth.

your best life is later.





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