SHIAWASSEE TWP. — Cal Emerson has kept busy since retiring as the pastor at Northgate Wesleyan Church in 2012, penning five books with spiritual themes.
The first four were about the fruits of the spirit, called “Joy,” “Love,” “Peace” and “Patience.” His newly released “The Amazing Golden Years” is something of a departure, focusing on the lessons Emerson has learned throughout his life.
“It was just something that was revealed to me as I grow older,” Emerson said. “I’m 74. Wow, God got me through so much in life, providing for me and protecting me. You don’t realize these things until you’re older and look back.”
He writes about the difficult experiences he has navigated personally to illustrate the lessons he learned and his clear vision, upon reflection, of “God’s hand on our lives through every crisis, every trouble, every disappointment, and every trial,” as he says in “The Amazing Golden Years.”
There were the early years, when Emerson was a highly successful salesman for Adidas. Ultimately feeling dissatisfied and hungry for something else, he instead pursued the ministry.
Just before making that transition, he and his wife Beverly underwent a number of personal trials, including the discovery that one of their young sons was blind in one eye.
Not long after, doctors told the couple their other son was on the verge of dying from leukemia. They took him off all medication and prayed, a move they say saved the boy’s life. As it turned out, he was allergic to the antibiotics he was taking.
“I see now that these were lessons I had to learn before I went into the ministry,” said Emerson, who obtained his ministry and master of arts degrees from Indiana Wesleyan University. He was placed in Northgate in Owosso, and served there for 28 years.
Giving up a high-paying job seemed to mean giving up some old dreams, among them owning a cottage up north. But then an amazing thing happened: Parishioners kept offering Emerson the keys to their own cottages, five in total.
“We could go any time we wanted, and it was free to us,” he said. “I want to share this story and others to show how God works in our lives.”
“The Amazing Golden Years” doesn’t promise one’s golden years will be without pain, sorrow or disappointment, but that they also hold the joy of remembering and reflecting on God’s goodness.
“I have cancer, macular degeneration, arthritis, peripheral neuropathy, and two prosthetic hips,” Emerson writes in the book. “My body has been falling apart for 20 some years now.”
He continues: “This is not a book from Norman Vincent Peale suggesting that the golden years can be perfect if we just think more positively. Rather, it is a book that defines the joy of aging and the beauty of the aging process. It is a book looking back at the wonders of life and the fulfilling lessons we have learned along the way.
“These lessons are not detectable when we are experiencing troubles and difficult times,” he adds. “It is hard to see the positive outcome of a difficult situation while we are suffocating in the middle of it. They are things we can only see as we look back and realize we have successfully navigated every tragedy that seemed to be insurmountable at the time.”
“The Amazing Golden Years” and Emerson’s other books are available at Books & Beans in Owosso and on his website, calvinemerson.com. The cost is $12 per book.
A book signing is set for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 25 at Books & Beans, 108 N. Washington St.
In addition to continuing to perform pastoral duties at his church, Emerson belongs to the Kiwanis Club and speaks at camps and churches across the state.
The themes of his talks mirror the titles of his first four books — joy, love, peace and patience.
He said he plans to write more books about other fruits of the spirit: kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness and self-control.
“These are the things God gives you if you follow him,” Emerson said. “They are hidden treasures — even some Christians don’t know where they are. My books provide ‘treasure maps’ to the fruits of the spirit, and it’s so simple to find them. We just make it so hard.”