Fred Blauer, Beaverton Oregon:
Like most of us, I worked hard all my life; and I tried to balance my priorities of faith in God, the duties of a father and husband with the demands of my career. But the truth is, at the end of a day’s work, much of my energy was spent, and certainly the most productive hours were consumed and God and family got the leftovers. I’ve always had a zeal for Christ and I desired to serve Him, but with all of life’s necessities, I never found the time to serve Christ the way I hoped.
When I finally retired a fella asked me if I was now going to move to Miami and take my ease on the beach? I thought about his question and my heart stirred inside and I thought:
“No! I want the last years of my life to be the best years! I finally have the time, the kids are out, the job is done, so I will look for ways to serve Christ and make, however long I have left, productive.”
I found that it wasn’t as easy as I first thought; I had no one to prod me, no routine I was compelled to take; when I got tired I could sit and rest, or nap! Surely I could nap! I hadn’t taken a nap in fifty years! I began adding one ministry at a time, and I would evaluate the impact it had on my spiritual life, the needs of my wife, and my reduced responsibilities, and nap-time.
Facebook Ministry: I began first by determining to make my Facebook page a ministry of encouragement, and I posted my most uplifting verses and quotes, truly the cream of the crop. But it wasn’t long before I realized, most people consider Facebook like “fast food” a quick limerick or maxim is what is wanted.
Jail Ministry: So, unvanquished, I went on and ran into a fella who went to the jail once a week and wanted someone to join him. Wow! Now this was a perfect fit for me, and the sense of God’s presence was what I longed for. I was content with this for a couple of years, but there were still empty blocks of time, which I wasted.
Union Gospel Mission: Someone mentioned Union Gospel Mission; they may have a volunteer position that could productively fill my vacant time slots. I signed up for orientation, and they had an opening to feed the homeless at the downtown Portland mission. I eased into it, committing to only one afternoon a week. I was reluctant because I didn’t know if this was for me, but after one afternoon, I came away absolutely bathed in the Holy Spirit. How could such a simple action merit such a huge, spiritual reward? Not long after I began, they asked if I would commit to preaching at the mission one day a month, I was elated!
Christian Hotline Ministry:
After a few months, as I inventoried my time and the impact it made on my life; I felt like there was still time I needed to fill, but what I really wanted was something flexible, so if I got behind on chores or was too fatigued, I was not tied to another commitment. I prayed about it, but was at a loss, so, I continued to pray. Then, out of the blue, a Facebook friend sent me a post about a Christian Hotline that needed counselors.
I inquired and found that they were a 24/7 hotline, and if I joined, I could go on at any time of the day or night, whenever I had an hour or two of free time. It is a new concept, and it is all done by instant messaging – ‘Chatting’. I know how to type, so, I joined. Once again, I was filled with joy unspeakable! Now I spend about 8 hours a week, sitting at my computer, sipping coffee, “chatting” with people from all over the world that have spiritual needs of every imaginable kind.
With all the freedom, time and distractions, it took me four years to finally fill my days with productive time, but now I have accomplished my goal, truly, these are the most spiritually enriching years of my life.