When I retired at age 57 in order to provide full time care to my mom, who had Alzheimer's, I really thought there would be something in it for me.
Oh don't get me wrong, I had compassion for my mother, who was not yet ready for nursing home care. I had zeal to obey the Lord. And, while I grieved the loss of the teaching ministry that had allowed me to help a good number of struggling readers, I knew my physical strength was no longer up to full-time teaching. So I did have a measure of understanding of how God was helping Mom but also was helping me through provision of a fruitful ministry of service away from the rigors of teaching school.
However, I thought--and it is embarrassing to admit this--that there would be more. I thought "my" writing would be prospered. I pictured book signings and yes, increased income from my labors to make up for what I had given up in terms of a stable job with benefits.
Instead, the motif of helping people by ones and twos has continued. I tutored one child, and then one more, and then taught my grandsons to read; five children in all over the past eleven years. I took care of one elderly lady, my mother, until her death. My books sell at the rate of about 15 copies a year...so that approximately a dozen Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers are helped by my ministry over a given 12 months of time. Meanwhile, on the home front, I became babysitter to my grandchildren and cook for family meals in between bouts of increasingly distressing physical ailments.
Things have not worked out like I thought they would.
Shortly after my retirement, I purchased a sparkly dress (that no longer fits) with the thought that if we took a cruise, I would need evening wear. I pursued author opportunities that have steadily decreased over the years with the death of small publishing companies beneath the shadow of internet commerce. I suffered disappointment after disappointment in tandem with grief over loss of my mother and new diagnoses of auto-immune conditions that have further compromised my physical strength.
But, "...when plans of our own making wither and die, we can be encouraged to remember that death is not the end for those who have believed in Jesus...We can't keep anything for ourselves, not even our own physical bodies, which are destined to die. But when we release all to Him, His power is unleashed so that the mystery of resurrection--life from what has been crucified--brings new life and new hope."*
Things haven't worked out as I thought they would, but I can rest assured my circumstances have unfolded as God knew they would. When I am able to experience the peace of saying "Thy will be done," my eyes are opened to the blessings of following a Savior who would have died for just one lost sinner, even me. Each saved life is precious, each person helped in His name is worth my labor. I had delusions of grandeur, but the Lord had plans to bless me through labor and rest of His own timing and choosing.
And I have been blessed indeed.
*From 100 Days to Freedom: Release From the Self-condemnation of Overweight, Day 85.