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Numbers 8:23-26a
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “This applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting. And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. They minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service.”

Ask the retired hall of fame quarterback whether he’d rather be on the field sweating out a last-minute victory or sitting in an air-conditioned television studio, and he’ll tell you that the day he hung up his cleats for good was one of the toughest days of his life. Ask the life-long third grade teacher if she breathed a sigh of relief when clearing out her desk for the last time, and she’ll relay the moment through tears as if reminiscing the loss of a friend. Ex-athletes will always wish they could relive the thrill of their greatest achievements, but they can find new delight in coaching the next generation of athletes who need an empathetic arm around their shoulders. Elderly teachers will always cherish the sound of the school bell and the memories of students hustling tardily into their classroom, but they can find deepened joy in pouring their wisdom into young teachers who need real-life exemplars.

To these retiring Levites here in Numbers 8, God’s word may not feel like a word of commendation. In fact, they probably aren’t quite ready to retire at fifty. They’ve still got a lot to offer at that point. But even if the transition doesn’t make sense to them, it will be good for them, good for their sons in the faith, and good for the commonwealth too, because it’s a promotion in their priestly ministry rather than a layoff. And notice that God isn’t calling them to retreat to a golf course or a cabin in the mountains for the rest of their lives; He’s calling them to stand side by side with their younger brothers, put an arm around their shoulders, and mentor them with the wisdom they’ve earned through years of faithfulness.

Friend, whether you’ve got most of your life ahead of you or most of your life behind you, make it your resolution today to accept where God has placed you and give everything you’ve got to that cause.