Whenever I approach a birthday...and there have been nearly 89 of them...I take a peek at what's still on my “bucket list."
Of course, when I was a child my little toy pail was full of wishes. In youth, with stars in my eyes, my bucket held dreams. In adult life it was full of goals and hopes and plans. In prime of life the bucket began to hold some concrete achievements.
Now in my summit years, I would do well to examine what remains on my bucket list. Is my bucket empty because I've been there and done all that? Or have I given up on some things that were there from the beginning? Should I still press on to accomplish what's left in my bucket?
I was curious about the origin of the bucket analogy and did some online research. “The Bucket List" was the title of a movie about two terminally ill men and what they set out to do before they died. It came to mean a list of however many things one might want to accomplish before mortality closes the door.
That is, before you “kick the bucket,” which is a slang term that has come to mean dying. In short, it’s a list, actual or imaginary, that you make of what you hope to accomplish or do or be in your lifetime. But where did the bucket aspect come from? One source traced it to the Middle Ages when hanging was a common form of capital punishment. The victim would be taken to an elevated scaffold with a noose around his neck. He would stand on an overturned bucket or pail. When the bucket would be kicked out from under him, his body would drop, the rope would tighten, and he would be hanged.
In a sense, since a bucket list is a list of goals to achieve or roles in life or places I would like to go, or things I would like to do, I should ask myself, “Who put those items in my bucket? Did I? Or were they the expectations of others?” As a Christian I should ask at any season of my life, “Have I consulted God for the contents of my life bucket? Or am I simply on an ego trip? Are there things that should not even be on my bucket list? Are there important things I have omitted?”
In rural China, I have seen two heavily loaded buckets being carried by one person. A long pole is suspended across the shoulders and two buckets in balance are hung on each end of the pole. It might take two buckets to contain all that some of us would like to accomplish in one lifetime. There is nothing wrong with having personal goals and wishes and desires and dreams. It is good and right to fill up one bucket with that kind of list. Nevertheless, I should balance it in the other bucket with a list of God’s priorities and purposes for creating me and calling me to become His child. One bucket may contain temporal desires; the other, eternal values and desires in sync with the will of God.
God isn’t about the business of raining on our parade or taking all the fun out of life. The Scripture declares, “God has given us richly all things to enjoy.” God created the world and everything in it for man and called it “Good.” In the Psalms we read, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Faithful to His promise, the Lord has given me a long lifetime of the desires of my heart. God’s storehouse of goodness and mercies has overflowed to me. Among His many blessings, I have traveled the world, I have served the Lord with gladness throughout the many decades, I have lived to delight in my children, my grandchildren, and my great-grandchildren. I couldn't even count His blessings to me by the bucket—more like by the barrel!
The bucket list of how God wants to favor His children is a lot weightier and richer and a greater treasure than anything we could think of to put on our own bucket list of “to do’s or to be’s.” The nature of God is generosity, always giving us more abundance than we can ask or imagine. The question I ask myself is not, “Have I accomplished all I want to do from my bucket list?”
I can’t go wrong with continually praying, “Lord, I want Your will to be done in my life on earth as it is in heaven. If there is still anything left on my life bucket list that would please You, show me how to fulfill it!”