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By Lonny R. Burke

My feelings after retirement were nothing like what I had anticipated they would be. I had pastored for 14 years and then taught at Open Bible College and Eugene Bible College (now New Hope Christian College) for 31 years. While teaching college students about pastoral ministry, I also served as an interim pastor eight times and led one church restart. As I approached retirement, I thought I would be doing some of the same ministries I had been involved in since I was 22 years old. But God had a different plan.

About six months before I retired, my wife, Sharon, shared with me a scripture she felt God had given her for our retirement years. She read Isaiah 42:9 with me:

“See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.”

After several months of reading this scripture, I knew that it was for our retirement and that God was leading us as He promised He would. Little did I know the depth of this scripture as it started to penetrate our daily lives.

After Sharon and I officially retired (Sharon after 28 years at Harvest House Publishers), I realized my retirement experience was not at all like what I had envisioned – glorious years of doing what I wanted. I presumed that God would continue to lead me into paths consistent with my training and experience. I struggled, however, because nothing of the past seemed to be in the future. Opportunities for ministry like that I had experienced in the past 40 plus years did not present themselves. I felt like I had been “put out to pasture.” No one wanted or needed me any longer. I talked with God and repeated Isaiah 42:9, reminding Him of the Word He had given us. Finally after a year or so, I realized that verse was not only spiritual but also earthly; God was declaring something new. Although I still felt “pastured,” I started asking God, “What do I do now?” It seemed like He never gave me an answer, but in reality God was taking me where He wanted me (maybe I am just slow to catch on).

During my four years of retirement I have gained a newfound understanding of the words “before they spring into being I announce them to you.” I started to volunteer. That sounds rather normal for one’s retirement years, but for me the “where” I volunteered was different. I thought it would be in and around the church or the ministries I had been involved in for decades, but it wasn’t. Sharon and I work with foster kids through Royal Family Kids, a national ministry with kids’ camps and monthly mentoring programs. I volunteer weekly at Eugene Christian School helping with reading groups, this year in fifth grade. Each Wednesday I go to the Eugene Mission to help with the distribution of clothing. And I also volunteer at Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, preparing Christmas shoe boxes for needy children around the world.

Needless to say, I am still in ministry, and I thank God for these retirement years. Although I struggled with the transition, the Word God gave Sharon and me has come to life, and we are walking in and discovering the “new things” God promised.

About the Author

lonny headshot-cropLonny R. Burke has been an Open Bible credentialed minister for more than 51 years. He and his wife, Sharon, live in Eugene, Oregon, and have two daughters and three grandchildren. They volunteer with several children’s ministry organizations, helping give needy kids a positive influence.

About The Author

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