READ: Numbers 7-8
THINK: In 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay – his Sherpa guide – became the first humans to ever scale Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain. Hillary was 33 years old at the time. When they made it back down the peak they were met with instant acclaim. This great feat brought Edmund Hillary wealth, fame, a Knighthood, and the realization that he had already lived a remarkable life.
I think many of us in Hillary’s situation would have been tempted to just retire. To retreat from our toils and spend the rest of our lives indulging in our wealth and fame. But Hillary chose a different route. He refused to rest on his laurels. Although there were no higher mountains to climb, he achieved a number of remarkable things and campaigned tirelessly to improve the welfare of the Nepalese people who lived near Mount Everest until his death.
In Numbers 8 God tells the Levites to retire from their normal duties at the age of 50. But this retirement looks a little bit different in the Old Testament than it does in 21st century America. We tend to think of retirement as stepping back from the world around us, congratulating ourselves for the work we’ve done, and spending our final years doing whatever makes us happy in the pursuit of self-indulgence or, at least, self-fulfillment. But God gives the Levites a different picture. He tells them to retire from their duty and then focus on another one – to spend more time focusing on the needs of others.
Wherever you are at in life – whether you’re a young student or an older individual at or nearing retirement age – it is critically important to see what God is doing here. He is reminding the Levites that though life changes as we age and our abilities and tasks change as well, retirement doesn’t mean resting on our laurels. We can’t afford to sit back – at any stage of life – and make excuses for inaction. God wants to use us to touch those around us. Remember this: as long as you have air running through your nostrils and a heart beating in your chest you have the chance to make an eternal impact. Don’t waste your life away chasing anything less than that. Don’t sit back and quit serving because you’re retired. Serve more. If you’re not dead, you’re not done!
PRAY: Confess the times in your life when you’ve sat back, proud of your own accomplishments, and avoided taking action for God. Confess the times when you’ve been self-centered instead of self-sacrificial in your relationships with those around you. Ask God to fully leverage your all the days of your life for his Kingdom.