Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Bookends of Life

Last weekend, I had a rare and wonderful privilege. I was invited to attend the retirement party for one of the finest rookie cops I had the privilege of training. Thirty-nine years ago I was a Field Training Officer (FTO) at the Springfield, Oregon Police Department. I was handed a young recruit by the name of Rich. It was my job to train him and show him how to stay alive on the streets. We spent months together. I took him from an eager young recruit to a trained officer able to ride solo and protect the citizens of our city. That is the assignment of an FTO.

During the retirement party, I was able to meet old friends from many years ago. Most are retired now. We told old war stories. At the end of the evening, a number of us took the microphone to share our memories. I shared some of my training stories about this rookie turned veteran Sergeant and respected by his peers. Then Rich took the microphone and told some stories about me. We laughed a lot. It was a great night. On the drive home I had a feeling of deep satisfaction seeing how life played out for this wonderful man.

When we returned home, I sent a text to my retired recruit and thanked him for the invitation and honor of being present at his retirement dinner. He sent a reply, “It was a perfect ending for my career.” His words struck a cord in my heart.

Every season of life has a beginning and an ending - bookends.  In the middle is where we make choices that create the quality of the ending. Rich’s start was a wonderful day, but his ending was far better. I remember one of the words of advice I gave him. I said, “Find a good woman. Buy a house. Have some kids. Be a good dad and faithful husband. Keep your nose clean and someday you will retire with honor.” He did all those things and the overflow crowds at Rich’s retirement affirmed his choices in life.

If this has been a tough season for you, start over – today. Declare an end and make this is a new day and a new beginning. Begin now to make the choices that will rewrite your future. God is in the business of resurrecting what is dead and giving new life to tired experiences. None of what you are going through is outside the reach of God's resurrection power. Nothing is ever too late or past due with God. He can take a day and make it into a thousand years or take a thousand years and reduce it to a single day. He is God. He can make all things new if you give Him a chance. That chance is empowered by your willingness to believe, obey and choose well. Start living today with a joyful retirement party in mind. It will change how you live and it will create the spiritual war stories that will be told someday in your future.

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