Upended Expectations

Almost nothing about life after sixty (I’m nearly sixty-three) has turned out the way I expected it would when, as a youngster in my thirties and forties, I would occasionally look ahead to what I might experience when I became a senior citizen.

I expected that I would spend these years well established in some ministry setting, enjoying the fruit of a lifetime of faithful service to the church. I ex- pected that I would be in demand across the country—and maybe around the world—as a conference speaker and itinerant preacher, having built a reputation for effectiveness and impact as a teacher and a pastor.

I never expected to lose my job as a Bible college instructor at age fifty-eight and, consequently, to join the ranks of the long-term unemployed. I never expected to retire. In fact, I don’t really think that retirement is a biblical concept. I certainly never expected to be forced into an early retirement, for which I am woefully ill-prepared, both economically and psychologically.

I never expected that my only daughter would enter her thirties as a single mother, nor that my wife would enter her sixties as a cancer survivor. And I never expected that, forty-two years after I was ordained a minister at Elkview Baptist Church near Charleston, WV, I would feel so spiritually homeless and estranged from organized religion.

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