Will you have an encore call? Yes!

Posted by on Aug 22, 2012 in Blog, Gary | 13 comments

By Mark E. Haskins

It was true, he was in his late sixties, or maybe even his early seventies, and he was retiring. There were no outward clues as to his age except for the gray hair (still full and thick), the wrinkles of one accustomed to the outdoors, and as one friend noted, the barnacles that had latched on over the years. He could hold his own during the week day with colleagues much younger. He was enthusiastic, energetic, and a consummate pro. He felt it was time, though. No one wants to leave on a downhill trajectory and he wanted to retire on his terms.

At a recent dinner party I asked his wife what he was most looking forward to during his upcoming “retirement years”. I thought I would hear the usual—playing with the grandkids, traveling to places long delayed, or spending more time in the garden. But in her likeably sincere and direct way, she corrected me—these were going to be his “encore years.” What a perfect description. She had nailed it. Indeed, my colleague was a logistics expert and he was going to begin working with some of the world’s most prominent disaster relief agencies, bringing his expertise to bear on their processes and planning. Fantastic! What a great idea and opportunity to make a difference.

For followers of Jesus who see most of our working lives in the rearview mirror and as we begin to notice the “r” word (retirement) on life’s highway signs announcing the upcoming exits, the framing of those years as “encore years” is exactly what God has in mind for us. Through the years, and by His grace, we have been tutored, we have matured, and we now know some of what we didn’t know. And, we have a lot of living yet to offer Him. It is not that our lives prior to the encore years have been merely an off-Broadway version of life—not factoring into what really matters. They do matter. They did matter. Similar to what the Apostle Paul writes, we too, can “speak wisdom…God’s wisdom” (I Corinthians 2, 6&7, ASV) and it is through “experience that we [have acquired the] knowledge of the good and pleasing and complete purpose of God” (Romans 12: 2 BBE). Thus, we stand at the threshold of our encore years with a wealth of “wisdom and experience of the Spirit” (Colossians 1:9, BBE) to bring to bear.

Embarking on the encore years provides a transitional moment to take a bow, recalibrate, and commit to giving it all you got, bringing forth what is most true about who God made you and planted in your heart’s desires. The world needs, God wants, gray-haired, barnacle-covered men and women in His Kingdom. He wants them to sing their best song, dance their best dance, tell their best stories. He wants those with life etched on their faces to radiate their love and passion for Him. Regardless of the world’s calculus about our status, accomplishments, or nest eggs, the encore years are prime time in the Kingdom.

Just as the Broadway star who comes out to the standing ovation of an appreciative audience, we must say, “You are welcome,” to the Lord when He whispers, “Thank you…well done to date,” in our ears. And to our, “You are welcome,” we will find ourselves quickly adding, “Thank you Lord for a life with you and for all that you have shown me about myself and about You. You have been the loving maestro…the patient director….the beautiful music in my ears….you are the masterpiece.” With both reflection and anticipation coursing through our veins, we sense the fuse of desire being lit. The moment is here. He raises the curtain for our encore. He takes our hand. He looks us full in the face saying, “Let’s blow their socks off.” And as Churchill wrote upon becoming Prime Minister with WWII igniting, we too can then say with our encore years in sight, “All my past life has been but a preparation for this hour.”

For me, the encore years are yet a handful of years away. They are, however, in sight. As I look ahead, I pray three things that I want to be true of those years and the years in between:
1. Lord, fuel in me a desire that rises up and is unmistakably from you and for your purposes.
2. Lord, foster in me a humble devotion to be your ambassador, your warrior, your sweet fragrance in this world.
3. Lord, bless me with the presence of others to share the journey through the upcoming encore years.
Amen. Amen.

(quote from The Second World War, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm, 1948)

13 Responses to “Will you have an encore call? Yes!”

  1. Mark,

    I so appreciate your great words in the blog post.

    I love the way you “end” which is with a beginning: “He takes our hand. He looks us full in the face saying, ‘Let’s blow their socks off.’”

    Yes, that is what we all want. We want more than six daily hours of golf punctuated with a few moments with grandchildren.

    We want to make a difference, and your words encourage us all … that we can.



  2. Mark,

    All three of your prayer emphasis points resonate with me. With the way time has been slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ on by lately I definitely sense the need to be looking ahead to the next stage in ways that have me fully engaged and fully prepared to step into it with confidence and determination to make the most of what God keeps giving me.

    I sure seem to spend a lot of time just feeling like all I’m doing is getting through the time; then looking back and saying things like, “Where did the time go?” or “What can I say I got done in all that time?”

    Thanks for reminding me again of the significance of Churchill’s recognition. It hasn’t all been for nothing. It was all for all that is still to come.

    With you for Him,

    • Bob, your comments remind me that i (we?)can benefit so much from reflection–taking the time to review what I have been doing and asking, “Was I as tuned in to the Lord as I could have been this past day, this past week, this past month or was I simply running from one To Do to another?” Reflection is not something I am particularly good at–and, it is not the same as replaying the past or regretting something done or not done. The latter two can be life draining…whereas Godly reflection is life giving. May I (we?) be more reflective, looking for Him and to Him. Thanks.

  3. Randy Luce says:

    Thanks also Mark, well written. I was just telling someone the other day about how much I enjoy talking to a younger man about his journey, but given the choice, I much more enjoy talking to all the gray haired guys about what God has taught them!

    Thanks for giving us such a hopeful perspective.


    • Randy…In the work environment, I love spending time with my more senior colleagues. There, two have recently retired, two more are retiring this year and I will miss them greatly. Spiritually, the same is very true. I have been blessed with a couple Godly, barnacle-covered men to walk with over the years and I feel, oddly enough, like I have just recently learned how to appreciate and be blessed by what they have to offer. I would love more such men in my life and I hope I can become one for some younger men the Lord puts in my path.

  4. Richard McAlister says:

    Mark, What a wonderful perspective on the encore years! Having just turned 65 I can so relate. As my wounds have healed my desire to touch and share the lives of other men intensifies. Not from a place of woundedness but rather a place of healing and strength. I am excited and so looking forward to what lies ahead. Your words are right on, good, and profound.

    • Richard—I can sense your excitement…and I agree with you, it is from our healed places that we have much to offer.

  5. Thomas Eric Herrington says:

    Dude! Good word! Blew my socks off!

  6. Randy Windborne says:

    There was a man who had fallen sick. His name was El`azar, and he came from Beit-Anyah, the village where Miryam and her sister Marta lived. …

    So when Marta heard that Yeshua was coming, she went out to meet him; but Miryam continued sitting shiv`ah in the house. Marta said to Yeshua, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”

    Yeshua said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Marta said, “I know that he will rise again at the Resurrection on the Last Day.”

    Yeshua said to her, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life! Whoever puts his trust in me will live, even if he dies; and everyone living and trusting in me will never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11 CJV

    Forest Gump’s mother said that dying was just a part of life. I’ve decided to take Jesus up on option #2 and skip that part.

    Of course the downside to not dying is that I can never retire. Which is kinda cool – a neverending adventure! I want to see it through until the end of this age.


  7. “Lord, fuel in me a desire that rises up and is unmistakably from you and for your purposes.”

    Amen, Gary, amen. And may our pursuit indeed be in fellowship with others for in the sharing by kindred hearts lies increased impact, joy, and glory to God.

  8. John Moorhead says:

    A “YES!” moment. It’s been a while since the tears came in reading a blog, but they came with this one, because I have tasted what this is like. After a fierce battle with a major medical illness over the past 6 years, beat up, physically weak and feeling 90 instead of 66, God shows up and leads me into his pre-arranged encores for my life. His love and power move, people and things change, and I am undone and in awe of his grace. Churchhill’s quote applies to me. I have never felt more alive! Thank you, Mark, for putting words to this. I have printed them out and will live in them.

    • John
      Thanks for what you have shared here. I am blessed by how the Lord has used my few words to touch your heart. We truly do have an amazing, active, alive, and loving Lord. May we both experience His all this day!

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