"You are so gifted," I said to a widow who attends my church. "You're always doing something here."
"Oh, I don't do much," she answered. "People keep asking why I continue doing all the work I do. But I enjoy it and I like keeping busy. I'm going to keep on as long as I can. I don't want to sit and do nothing."
Faye is, indeed, an asset to the parish.
Many people have preconceived, even idealistic ideas of what retirement ought to be like. If you're able to stop working at a regular job early in life, pictures of free time filled with hobbies, travel and rest may dance around in your head. You imagine you can now do exactly what you want. No more punching a clock or being on call. You can now enjoy golden years -- a time that might have little to do with age but rather with leisure and pleasure.
One who finally has the opportunity to do as he chooses may find that his goals have changed. He discovers that having few demands on his time fails to bring the joy he expected. Most people who are physically and mentally healthy prefer to be useful. Each person possesses gifts and talents that fulfill him; each has qualities that make him different from all others. The world certainly needs whatever anyone can contribute.
If you look back into Scripture and recall history, you'll remember the days of the apprentice when the seasoned craftsmen taught the young and the inexperienced the trade. In olden times, women crocheted, knitted, sewed garments, quilted, cooked and gardened as long as their health and desire permitted. Men, too, contributed. They taught the young and less knowledgeable how to farm, repair machinery, hunt, fish, conduct business and help in other professions and jobs.
God considers our work to be good and an important part of our lives. Many Scriptures support the value of work, not just to make a living but also to give glory to God.
"And, also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor. It is a gift of God," says Ecclesiastes 3:13. John 17:4 states, "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." According to WorkMatters.org, the word work is used about 480 times in the Bible, expressing the significance of man's work.
Often the young wonder why those who don't have financial reasons to work should do so. I would ask, "Why would anyone who can contribute to life through his gifts, skills and talents choose not to?" Praise those who continue contributing what they can as long as possible. The tragedy lies in doing nothing when you can honor God by doing something--even just being and praying in the presence of God.
My advice for Faye when people ask her why she keeps doing all she does is to answer them with the question--"Why should I not do all that I do?"
Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.