The Perseverance of J. Oswald Sanders  

When I heard J. Oswald Sanders at the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School chapel speaking at the age of eighty-nine say that he had written a book a year for Christ since he was seventy, everything in me said, “O God, don’t let me waste my final years! Don’t let me buy the American dream of retirement—month after month of leisure and play and hobbies and putzing around in the garage and rearranging the furniture and golfing and fishing and sitting and watching television. Lord, please have mercy on me. Spare me this curse.”

Passion: Making God’s Greatness Known to Future Generations

That is my prayer for you as well. I close with a passion and a promise. The passion is Psalm 71:18—a passion to make the greatness of God known to the generations we are leaving behind: “Even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.” O that God would give us a passion in our final years to spend ourselves to make him look as great as he really is—to finish life to the glory of Christ.

Promise: We Are As Secure As Christ Is Righteous and God Is Just  

The promise: Isaiah 46:3–4, “[You] have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.” Don’t be afraid, Christian. You will persevere. You will make it home. Sooner than you think. Live dangerously for the one who loved you and died for you in his thirties. Don’t throw your life away on the American dream of retirement. You are as secure as Christ is righteous and God is just. Don’t settle for anything less than the joyful sorrows of magnifying Christ in the sacrifices of love. And then in the Last Day, you will stand and hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. . . . Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21, 23).


1. Samuel Zwemer, Raymond Lull: First Missionary to the Moslems (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1902), 132–145.
2. The following quotes come from this account as translated and recorded in Documents of the Christian Church, ed. Henry Bettenson (Oxford University Press, 1967), 9–12.
3. Accessed 9-27-07 at
4. Ralph Winter, “The Retirement Booby Trap,” Mission Frontiers 7 (July 1985): 25.
5. Handley C. G. Moule, Charles Simeon (London: The Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1948, orig. 1892), 125.

Rethinking Retirement: Finishing Life for the Glory of Christ
Copyright 2009 by Desiring God Foundation
Published by Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers
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