We used to say, “These are the things I’d like to do before I die.” However, after the movie The Bucket List was released in 2007, our jargon changed. That film prompted many to create their own list for the first time.
Although the name may have changed, the idea has not. Time flies when we’re paying bills, and life continues on whether we take time to follow our dreams of what we want to accomplish before we die. I guess it comes down to what our priorities are.
I stopped long enough to examine my desires and found that I only had three things on my Bucket List. I wanted to:
(1) see the Northern Lights in their fullest splendor,
(2) ride in a hot air balloon, and
(3) visit Corrie Ten Boom’s home in the Netherlands, which is described in her book and film, The Hiding Place.
One day, while daydreaming about fulfilling the items on my meager list, I felt God speak into my heart. (I wonder, when a Christian daydreams, is she actually praying? If we truly pray without ceasing, as Paul instructed in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, are our seemingly random thoughts really an ongoing conversation with our Creator?)
With His characteristic love and patience, God said, “Why are you longing to see the lights? Don’t you know that what awaits you in heaven is far more spectacular? You cannot imagine the colors and lights you will witness when you get to heaven.” Wow. Just . . . wow.
Taken aback, as is always the case when God speaks to my heart, I stopped breathing for a few seconds, and then relaxed, smiled, and cried. (I wonder why I am always surprised when I hear God in my spirit. Isn’t a true conversation two ways?) So what DO I want to accomplish before I die?
While seeing the Aurora Borealis from earth would be awesome, I realized there are more important things to do. Things that have eternal value don’t focus on me and my desires. The things that I, as a Christian, should be striving for during this short time on earth should be that which benefits others, not me. The enormity of my selfishness was like a bang on the head. “Forgive me, Father,” I whispered.
My mind flashed to the very first sentence in Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life. “It’s not about you.”
So, I began to pray for God to help me reevaluate my priorities and come up with a meaningful Bucket List. I knew that my guidance would come through God’s Word.
Jeremiah 29:11 reassured me that, although it’s not about me, God does care about me. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
He chose me to “bear fruit” and “make disciples” for Him (John 15:16; Matthew 28:19). So I know God wants me to share my testimony of His forgiveness, love, and mercy in my life.
I cannot waste time living to please myself, because even God says it’s not about me. Philippians 2:3-4 reflects that truth. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
If God uses me, I dare not get conceited about it. Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds me, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
What else? I know that to have the energy to do what he tells me to do, I need to exercise and eat right, as instructed in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
Can day-to-day lifestyle choices be “Bucket List” items? I think they have to be. Jesus was quoted in John 13:34-35—“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
If our purpose on earth is to share the good news of Jesus Christ, shouldn’t our daily goals reflect that? So my Bucket List must be ongoing and evolving as my life changes. I pray that I achieve all He has for me to do before I “kick the bucket.”
God had a plan for me since my conception and only He knows how much time I have to complete the task. Like David said in Psalm 139:13-16, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
So I’ll bloom where I’m planted! Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:17, “Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.”
Maybe the events that have already happened in my life have all been part of God’s Bucket List for me. Perhaps past, present, and future ministry within the church body, activities within the community, a mission trip abroad, and now, communicating God’s love and lessons in my life, are all part of the plan He made while I was so tiny within my mother’s womb that even she didn’t know I was there.
If opportunities arise that allow me to do the three things on my original Bucket List, I’ll consider them gifts from God. Meanwhile, until God takes me to heaven, I have to continue to work on that List.
If making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land is in God’s plan for your life, prepare for it. If He wants you to go on a mission trip, map it out. If you feel called to volunteer at your local homeless shelter, go for it. If working at your church’s VBS sparks excitement in your heart, plan for it. If you want to donate your hair, let it grow. Whatever He has for you to do will surely bless you and be an integral part of your spiritual growth.
Pray and ask God to show you what He wants you to do before you leave this earth. As you listen to His voice and obey, you’ll grow. As you grow, He’ll give you more opportunities to bless others, and blessing others is the makings of a Bucket List with eternal impact.
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