It never ceased to amaze me that no matter how hard I worked, how efficient I was, or how many tasks I completed there was always unfinished business on my ‘To-Do List.’
I suppose it was a good thing in that I was never at a loss for what to do. But it could also be frustrating as it easily led to the “I’ll never get everything done” syndrome… which led to fatigue.
Somewhat to my surprise, I’ve found the same issue in my retirement years!
In fact, I’ve gleaned some new insights since my retirement from full-time pastoral ministry. The most important and intriguing learning is that I’m not alone – God, too, has unfinished business. And it has to do with me!
I used to think the cliché “Be patient – God’s not finished with me yet!” was a cute but convenient excuse for not measuring up in some way. Now I realize it’s a Biblical truth.
This is at least part of what Paul meant when he wrote: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Phil. 1:6 NLT)
Part of God’s unfinished business is completing His work in and through me!
Here’s how I’ve come to learn and appreciate this truth.
As I headed into retirement in September of 2015, I had no specific ministry agenda. I planned to spend more time with my wife and family, do some traveling and get caught up on unfinished projects at home. The only general ministry I had in mind was getting back to some writing and doing pulpit supply preaching.
That lasted about five months!
After my wife and I returned from an extended time of traveling, my Classis (Southwest Michigan) asked me to be the Interim Classis Leader on a part-time basis for the next two years.
For a number of reasons, I was initially hesitant about the opportunity. But some dear friends and colleagues helped me grasp that God was not finished with me yet and I accepted the invitation.
When I completed my time of service, a little over 2 years later, I was ready to get back to relaxing and my unfinished business of writing. After all, with Paul, I still felt a burning inside to ‘make the word of God fully known…” (Col. 1:25).
But God wasn’t finished with me yet.
He used this burning to lead me into a whole new venture which is now called Pastor Curry Ministries, which is where I’ve invested my time and energy.
I truly have no idea where this will lead or what opportunities might arise. But I’m realizing that God’s unfinished work with me is leading me to “…continue to work out (my) salvation with fear and trembling…” (Phil. 2:12)
I resonate with how The Message renders it: “Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.”
So whether or not I get back to my unfinished agenda is no longer the most important item on my ‘To Do List’. Working with God and His unfinished agenda is at the top.
It’s scarier – it does lead to ‘fear and trembling’ and even some confusion – but it’s safer and wiser. And the reality is I’ve been unwittingly preparing myself for this through a couple of prayers I utter frequently (even if, admittedly, they are sometimes uttered more hastily than sincerely).
“I am willing, Lord, to receive what You give, to lack what You withhold, to relinquish what You take, to surrender what You claim, to suffer what You ordain, to do what You command, to wait until You say ‘Go.’”
From Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymns Stories for Daily Devotions by Kenneth W. Osbeck, August 15 entry
“O Holy Spirit of God, visit now this soul of mine, and tarry within it until eventide. Inspire all my thoughts. Pervade all my imaginations. Suggest all my decisions. Lodge in my will’s most inward citadel and order all my doings. Be with me in my silence and in my speech, in my haste and in my leisure, in company and in solitude, in the freshness of the morning and in the weariness of the evening; and give me grace at all times to rejoice in thy mysterious companionship.”
John Baille, A Diary of Private Prayer, New York: Fireside, 1949
If you want to join God in His unfinished business with your life, I invite you to pray them as well.
Then, buckle up and be ready for the ride of your life!
photo source: FreeImages.com/BillDavenport