“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3
Since 2008, when the Rob Reiner movie starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson was released, the term “bucket list” has become increasingly popular. According to the Urban Dictionary, a “bucket list” is, “A list of things to do before you die. Comes from the term ‘kicked the bucket’.” That definition, however, appears to be evolving. Further down the Urban Dictionary’s listing “bucket list” refers to “a list you make with friends of things you always say you’re going to do and don’t. Not before you die…just for fun!” (Heaven knows this culture is uncomfortable thinking about death too much!”)
So dear friend, do you have a “bucket list”? If you do, what is on it? I tried to think about such a list for myself but finally concluded:
- I have been blessed to have traveled to various places and done some pretty amazing things (always fun and interesting) but I am always grateful to come home.
- I count my blessings for the family and friends that I have . . .
- Anything I might consider adding to such a list sounds pretty trivial and self-centered!
Of course there are nobler things things that could be part of such a list. My husband showed me a recent article in a news magazine comparing the amount of money spent on various elective surgeries with how that amount of money could help out a poor family. It listed helping pay for a year of morning and afternoon day care for one child, putting braces on a kids teeth, paying for a year of college . . . . Another option to consider might be using one of those catalogs to “gift” people in poorer countries with farm animals or various implements to cultivate soil. (Actually, that is something I would really like to do.)
Actually, the only problem with a “bucket list” is that it seems to presume that death is the end of the line. As Christians, we know better! Wouldn’t it be wiser for our focus to be more on meeting God?
Thinking about this took me back to when I gave my heart to Christ more than thirty years ago. In those early years I struggled with depression as I faced my “failures” as a mom and wrestled with putting past hurts to rest. I accepted that God loved me enough to send His Son to save me from myself, but repentance just didn’t seem adequate to actually cover my repeated failures. Then one day I remembered King David who, the Bible says,“was a man after God’s own heart.” (I Samuel 13:14) I remembered David’s sins (recorded in great detail in the Scriptures) and wondered, what was it about David that so touched God’s heart? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that what I wanted more than anything else was to be a woman after God’s heart! I became encouraged as I read the Psalms because I found a pattern in David’s life that gave me hope. What I noticed was that of all the people talked about in the Bible, David had two qualities that stood out: he sought to be obedient (but sometimes failed) and he trusted God with his heart. I began to pray the Psalms, using David’s references to his heart as my guide. All were helpful but two especially stood out:
- Psalm 51 was written by David after Nathan confronted him about his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah, her husband. David repents of his sin but the thrust that impressed me was his confidence being fully placed fully in God’s ability (and willingness) to forgive him. Verses 10-12 declare: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your Presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” I stopped beating myself up. After repenting of my sin I learned to give thanks to God for His loving faithfulness.
- Psalm 139 is beautiful as it establishes God as Sovereign over all Creation. However, I was terrified when I contemplated praying David’s conclusion (verses 23 and 24.) I felt as if I were about to submit myself to a surgeon’s knife and was afraid I wouldn’t be able to endure the pain as He ripped the nasty crud out of my heart. Here is what David wrote: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me, and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” What I found out after I prayed that prayer (despite my fears) was that God is gentle and wise; patient beyond my human understanding.
Looking back I am grateful to God for shepherding my heart the way He did and continues to do. Ultimately, I discovered freedom from being weighed down by the guilt of my failures so that I might truly live to His Glory.
So what do you think? Might there be some adjustments you need to make on that “bucket list” of yours?
“Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:3 and 4