Happiness Is Just A Step Ahead

    Happiness is an elusive thing. It always seems to be just one step ahead. I’ll be happy when I go to Kindergarten. I’ll be happy in grammar grades and have my own desk. I’ll be happy when I go to high school and have fun. I’ll be happy when I graduate. I’ll be happy when I go to college, be free from my parents, get my degree, marry, have children, and get on with my career. Real happiness is when I RETIRE!
   Retirement is somewhat like the quest for happiness, it is extremely elusive, hard to define, always seems just a step ahead. This week, an old man, surely in his early 70’s was bagging my groceries. I had that job when I was 14. We’re living longer than ever before (on average), and many have found that retirement is not what it’s cracked up to be.
   I tried golf but it’s really too expensive. I watch T.V. until I fall asleep. Unless your retirement has been well planned, it will fall far short of what you always dreamed it would be.
   I read this in a bulletin recently. The author is young and unknown.

  “We always used to spend holidays with Grandma and Grandpa. They used to live here in a big brick home, but Grandpa got retarded and they moved to Florida. They now live in a place with a lot of retarded people. They all live in little tin boxes. They ride on big three wheeled tricycles and they all have name tags because they don’t know who they are.
   The retarded go to a big building they call the wreck house. They must have got it fixed for because it’s alright now. They play games and play records of old songs while they do exercises. They look so peculiar when they lie on their backs and pretend they are riding a bicycle. There is a swimming pool there but they just stand in it with their hats on and gossip. I guess they don’t know how to swim.
   As you go into the park there is a small house in the middle of the road that used to have a man inside. They said he was dead but he has been there a long time. He watches all day long and no one can come in without him seeing them. When they sneak out they go to the beach and pick up shells.
   My Grandma used to bake cookies and stuff, but I guess she forgot how. Nobody who lives in there cooks – they all eat out. They eat the same thing every night called Early Birds. Some of the people don’t know how to cook at all so my Grandma and Grandpa cook up stuff and they take it to the Wreck House and call it Pot Luck.
   Grandma and Grandpa worked all their life and earned their retardment. I wish they would move back up here but the man in the little house won’t let them out. I’ll sure be glad when I grow up and old and get my Retardment.”

   I enjoyed reading the little girl’s idea of RETIREMENT and in some ways have to agree that “it ain’t all what it’s cracked up to be.” This month Ann and I will have been married one year short of 60. Not one time have we ever mentioned divorce. “Murder” yes, divorce no.
   The apostle Paul wrote, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God who gives us richly all things to enjoy. That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate. Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may hold on eternal life” (I Timothy 6:17-19). Paul explains, “For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith and lay hold on eternal life” (I Timothy 6:10-12).
   It’s always thinking that something we do, or money we make, or achievements in this life really matter. My brother Fred once showed me some 26 plaques that praised him and lauded him for his good works. They were all framed beautifully and decorated the walls in the living room and the stairway.
   He deserved them all but when he moved they were all discarded. No place for them. The 16 antique clocks that all chimed, but now they are silent and gone. The house they had lived in all their life – sold. His beloved wife died and now he waits for the call of Jesus.
   Ann and I have accumulated “stuff” that one day will mean nothing to any of us. It’s our children, and grand children, and great grand children and our love for God and for each other that really counts.
   Paul wrote, “I have learned in what ever state I am in, therein to be content. Contentment and Eternity – “Some glad morning, when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away, fly away”. Thank God for eternity.


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