A friend gave me a nice hardbound, spiral notebook the other day. The cover says “My Bucket List Journal.” At the bottom are the words “Write it down!”
Inside, the first two pages offer 100 blanks to list the places one plans to go, the experiences he wants to have, the mountains to climb, before “kicking the bucket.”
A few years ago, I compiled such a list and published it on my blog. It was picked up and reprinted by many other websites. By googling “bucket list McKeever”, I got this one: http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/the-christian-bucket-list-50-things-every-believer-should-do-before-heaven-11631119.html
However, as I told my friend who gave me the book….
There is nothing on my bucket list today.
I stare at the blanks on those pages and write nothing down.
It’s not that I’m depressed or without purpose. In fact, it’s much the opposite. More, it’s an awareness that while there are some things I would enjoy doing, they do not constitute a “do before you leave” list.
I wouldn’t mind a return trip to the Holy Land, wouldn’t mind at all learning a new language, or publishing another book. But those are not high on my list of priorities.
Perhaps I’m a little like Simeon of old.
Told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he saw the Christ child, the elderly man hung out near the Temple waiting and watching. And then one day, the Spirit nudged him and said, “This is it. Wake up, Simeon. The time has come.”
He hurried down to the Temple and walked in just in time.
A young couple was entering, carrying their newborn son. Simeon walked over and reached out to take him. One wonders what the young parents thought as they found themselves handing over their infant to the old man.
Then, Simeon did something that took their breath away. Mary, the young mother, never forgot it and years later must have told Luke the Physician the account so he could record it for posterity.
Taking the Baby into his arms, the venerable saint said, “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace. According to Your promise, my eyes have seen Your salvation which You prepared before the face of all the peoples. A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel!” (Luke 2:25ff)
Simeon then blessed the holy family and told Mary (in an aside? why did he tell her only?) of the future God had planned for this Child.
I’m stuck back here at Simeon’s opening words: “Lord, you can release me now. I’ve seen what you promised.”
He checked off the final item on his bucket list.
Probably the only thing on it.
Who doesn’t envy the man to have come to the end and seen the culmination of his hopes and dreams, and then was ready to depart.
What’s on my list? Why do I say there is nothing? And what does this mean?
I’m remembering Frank DeVorss whose wife Norma worked in our church office for years. Maybe 20 years ago, when Frank retired, he said to me, “Well, I guess the next thing on my agenda is death.” We laughed.
But it wasn’t. Two big events the Lord had for Frank and Norma were a) selling their house, which was too close to the New Orleans airport and was bought out by the airport authority, and rebuilding on the Northshore, and b) a heart attack. To my knowledge, both are still with us. If so, no doubt they’ve experienced other life-changing events. It’s how life works.
I enjoy being surprised by each day. Margaret used to tease about the way I looked forward to the mail each morning. One day I showed her three checks that had just arrived. One was payment for an article I’d written for a magazine, one was royalties for cartoons from another publication, and the third check was from a church where I’d preached. “See why I enjoy getting mail?” I said.
Rick Warren says when he wakes up in the morning he prays, “Lord, are you going to be doing anything exciting today? I’d sure love to be in on it.”
“His mercies are new every morning,” says Lamentations 3:22-23). God is always up to something every day of every year. People of faith are watching and listening, ready to respond and join in.
Well, all right, then. I do have a bucket list. Here it is…
1. I want to be found faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ every day of the rest of my life.
2. I want to encourage people who are serving Him, all the way home.
3. I want to be a giver. That means giving a tithe or more to the Lord through my church, to give to various ministries over and above the tithe, and to be generous to waiters and waitresses, to maids, and others who bless my life.
4. I want to write articles that will live after I am in Heaven, and will still be used of Him to give guidance to a pastor dealing with a troublemaker, an uplift to the servant of the Lord who is thinking of quitting, and a rebuke to the smartie who thinks he knows more than God.
5. I want to draw cartoons that will bring joy to a troubled heart, a smile to a weary soul.
6. I want to bless my eight grandchildren (as well as their parents!) who are making critical decisions that will affect the rest of their lives.
7. I want to change the world by prayer. And so I will pray for the President of the United States as well as his successor, for the missionaries serving throughout the world, and for pastors and their families who serve on the front lines for the Gospel.
8. I want to laugh and rejoice, to love and hug and be silly. That is as big as anything else on this list.
9. I want to encourage preachers to take care of their health by letting them see me grow old and still be preaching the Word, leading prayer and deacon conferences, holding revivals, and once in a while addressing senior adult meetings. “By ned, if Joe can do it, I can do it!” That’s the spirit.
10. I want to continue sketching thousands of people a year. So, I pray my eyesight will continue to be strong, my hands steady, and my mind capable.
That’s my list.
Nothing earth-shaking. In fact, nothing even new. But it’s what I want to do before leaving earth.
If you think to pray for me in these things, I will appreciate it more than I can say.