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By Ken Groen

It was a beautiful winter’s day in Florida, in the low 80s and not a cloud in the sky. My wife, Nadine, and I were traveling by boat up the Intracoastal Waterway to St. Augustine when it hit me: “I am one blessed man!” We’re with great Christian friends, experiencing God’s beautiful creation, enjoying good health, and looking forward to a dockside lunch of fish and hush puppies. In just a few weeks, our children, their spouses, and our grandchildren would join us to celebrate our fiftieth wedding anniversary. “Can it get any better than this?” I thought. I was overwhelmed by the goodness of God that allowed us to experience this moment.

It has been six years since Nadine and I embarked on this journey called “retirement.” It was a day we had dreamed of but never really believed would come. How did we get to this point? I have arrived at four factors that have helped us enjoy something far better than we had ever dreamed.

1. THE GRACE OF GOD

I don’t say this lightly. I look around and see many people who will not savor this moment because of the loss of a spouse, a serious health issue, or unexpected reversals. It is only by God’s grace that we will soon be celebrating 50 years of marriage after 40 years of ministry. Statistics reveal that only a small percentage of people will reach this point. Nadine and I often say to each other, “Every day’s a gift,” and then we pray, “Help us to hold lightly to the things we now have.”

2. PREPARATION

Having said that, there are some important things we did to prepare for this day.

One involves the 10-10-80 Principle. When I was young, my dad said, “Give God ten percent, save ten percent, and live on the other eighty percent.” Though sometimes we failed, we tried to do just that. Retirement living doesn’t just happen, and I don’t know anyone who has said, “I saved too much.” It takes a lot of financial preparation. At a minimum, try to have your house and vehicles paid for and a nest egg set aside before you retire. Social Security by itself will not suffice.

3. PURPOSE

Retirement is not just about living a life of ease – far from it. We have found that it’s very important to have a reason to get up in the morning. We sought God diligently to open doors for us to continue to give of ourselves and God has opened those doors. We have been able to be a part of helping a church plant, Journey Church in Des Moines, Iowa, get off the ground. I was asked to become a life coach for our Open Bible regional ministers. We have had many opportunities to marry, bury, counsel, and preach. We have also enjoyed an online business together as both a mutual hobby and source of added income. I have no desire to sit and rock, far from it. I want to live life on purpose.

4. PRAYER

Last but not least have been opportunities for expanded prayer times – lifting to the Lord our families, needs around us, our beloved pastors and missionaries, and our needy nation. We count it of highest importance to cultivate the garden of prayer in these golden years.
Your lives will certainly not look like ours, but it’s never too late. With preparation, purpose, and prayer – and by the grace of God – your retirement years can be better than you have ever imagined. Ours certainly have been.

About The Author

Ken Groen

Ken Groen, a retired Open Bible minister, has served in ministry for 47 years, including 27 as senior pastor of two churches, including First Church of the Open Bible in Des Moines, Iowa. In addition he served for 13 years as Central Region Executive Director. He and his wife, Nadine, just celebrated 50 years of marriage.