I have been retired from full-time Christian ministry for nine months. People still ask me if I miss it. I respond honestly, “Not at all!” It is strange to feel this way. When I took a one year hiatus from ministry in 2010, I was not ready to retire. This time I am.
Whereas I do not miss being a pastor, I do miss all the other careers I could have had. I miss the “roads not taken.” The other day I remarked to my wife that I wish I had several more lifetimes. There are so many things I could do.
I could have a career in science. That was my original plan when I entered college. Oceanography was my chosen field. I scuba dived and read Jacques Cousteau. By the time I was eighteen I had already narrowed down my career to geological oceanographer.
I loved science, and I still do. But it was not to be. The spiritual quest captivated me, and I dove headfirst into the religious life instead.
I am glad I did. I have no regrets. I made a living at exploring spiritual truth full-time. I have spent my life seeking the ultimate truths of human existence. I was paid to ponder the deep philosophical and spiritual questions of life. I read many books and wrote a few.
And I helped some people along the way (I hope.) All that time, study, and effort paid off. I am more confident of my spiritual stance than at any other time in my life. But I still wonder who Marshall Davis, the scientist, would have been.
Then there are other possibilities, such as teaching. That was my second career choice after science. In seminary my plan was to teach religion at the college or seminary level. I entered a PhD program with that in mind. But the pastorate called, and I answered.
I also imagine myself as a professional photographer. That was my dream in high school. I was photography editor of my school newspaper and yearbook. I was even offered a job on my hometown newspaper when I was a teenager. Now I enjoy that life vicariously through the beautiful photography of my wife, Jude.
There are a dozen more career paths I could mention. So many possibilities! That is why I wish reincarnation were true. Then I could do it all!
But, of course, reincarnation is not real. There is no evidence for it, in spite of the beliefs of billions of Hindus and Buddhists and the anecdotal accounts of past life regression. I need evidence, not faith, when it comes to afterlives.
We have one life to live. I still have years of my present life (I hope) to explore new things. And I plan to. But I am expecting no “midlife career change.” (To be in “midlife” would mean I would live to be 132.)
The truth is that I have not finished exploring this life path yet. I have more books to write and truths to uncover! I am just glad I have been granted the incredible blessing of this one human life.