There are certain big events in life that can set us back on our heels, bring us down to our knees, make us reconsider the direction of our lives or call for a complete reset. Here are a few - broken relationship, loss, accident, redundancy or retirement. When we embark on a new relationship or obtain a new job, adjustments and calculations need to be made to the allocation of limited time, effort and finances. A similar process happens with these ‘life turning points’. We may need to rethink our goals, abandoning some that seem out of date, revising others or setting ourselves new aspirations. Machines and instruments need careful initial calibration as well as occasional recalibration. Bodies and minds can sometimes need this too. Crises don’t only come in midlife. What was the last big event that caused you to have a recalibration and how are you doing since? Clouds are continually forming and reforming with the changing meteorological conditions. There is even such a thing as ‘Recalibration of Neural Networks for Point Cloud Analysis’ used in research to help with the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease! What shape are your clouds and can you spot any recalibration going on?
- ‘Sometimes in order for change to be made in a positive fashion, we must force ourselves to look unblinkingly at painful realities and re-evaluate’ - Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman
- ‘Maybe sometimes I'm such a thinker, I re-evaluate too much. Sometimes when it comes down to it, I really don't need to do anything, I don't really need to change anything. I need to just keep plugging away, working at it’ - Michael Chang
- ‘There's something really magical about having a child - it's like permission to begin again, start over, re-evaluate some things, check yourself. Recognize yourself. And that's kind of what happened with me - I realized, in a few places, I was going down the wrong path’ - Jill Scott
- ‘When I got to jail, it was a blessing in disguise because it made me re-evaluate and check who I am as a person’ - Troy Deeney
Victor Hugo published ‘Les Miserables’ in 1862 describing it as, ‘a progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from corruption to life; from bestiality to duty, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God’. His characters are based on real life experiences, the central one being Jean Valjean who changes from villain to hero after time in prison. We may not literally go to prison, but we can become fettered by circumstances and thoughts. Valjean discovered grace for a new beginning and he lived out his life with changed behaviour indicating deep inner change. For him, his recalibration came through repentance (‘metanoia’). Sometimes, a human being can sink so very low and resort to substance abuse for escapism. Without some kind of recalibration, this will lead to an early death. Ben Affleck and Angelina Jolie are two who managed to turn things around through Rehab but Amy Winehouse and Michael Jackson sadly didn’t make it.
Thankfully most of us do not become addicted but, if we live long enough, retirement comes to all. Such a time may be short or long, but it is a timely gift for reflection and realignment. Some people like to have a five or ten year plan to monitor their progress but most of us busk it. Whether you have a long time or not to retirement, how would you answer these questions?
- Are the ways I spend my time, money and effort pleasing to God?
- What good and useful things might not happen if I wasn’t around?
- If I see my life as an act of worship, how could this shape what I do with the rest of my life?
Wisdom would be to consider these things well before retirement. Sometimes a major recalibration is needed but other times, fine tuning is all that’s required to keep things running in an optimal way.
- ‘He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God’ - Micah 6:8
- ‘Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain’ - 1 Corinthians 15:58
- ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving’ - Colossians 3:23-24
- ‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship’ - Romans 12:1
Whilst it is important to have time for relaxation, remember that you are God’s workmanship with gifts to be used for specific roles. A good simple litmus test for the use of our active time is to consider whether it reflects love ‘for the Lord our God’ and kindness to our neighbour. Without that intention, it is probably a selfish motive and not to be trusted to be worthwhile. Wherever you are in life, if you will delight in God and commit your way to him at every stage, you will not go far wrong. Clouds and circumstances come and go, but a heart devoted to God needs no recalibration - it is only the wayward heart that needs such a fundamental realignment. To enjoy God is to bring joy to Him … at any age.
TAGS – purpose, programme, realignment, direction, future, reason, intention, useful