I cannot recall the first time someone asked me what was on my “bucket list”, but I know I began to hear the question more often when I turned 50. I didn’t have a “bucket list” (still don’t) and was never sure how to respond. I love visiting new places and trying some new things, but it would be difficult for me to create a list of specific things or places.
The 2007 movie, “The Bucket List”, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson likely added to the popularity of considering a bucket list. This unlikely duo presents a poignant portrayal of what life means when each unexpectedly faces a diagnosis that will end their lives. They begin to measure time through a different lens and consider what they had hoped to do and never did. If you have seen the movie, you know an adventure ensues that results in the two men taking trips to various places around the world. They risk skydiving, go on safari, and more. In the end what they discover is more significant than the exotic adventures they experience.
The idea of a “bucket list” seems to come from the anticipation of “kicking the bucket”, in other words…dying. It suggests this life is where things happen, where the good stuff is to grab and enjoy. It isn’t that I am in denial about the reality of death or that it will happen to me. I think my awareness of that reality results more and more in savoring each day and living it to the fullest, cherishing God’s little surprises, and His gentle whispers with a clear sense that time is precious.
Recently I read something about this that John Eldredge has written in his latest book, All Things New, which gave me additional perspective. Let’s look at his words:
“A bucket list means those things we hope to do before we die. Meaning, it’s now or never, baby. Bucket list mentality is very revealing and even more tragic, because it betrays our belief that this life really is our only chance.”
Of course John is referring to eternity and for those of us who believe, we often talk about the hope of heaven and life going on beyond this life on the earth we know all too well. Perhaps the hard part beyond that awareness is our difficulty conceptualizing what that “next life” looks like. There are hints here and there, but also a curiosity about whether it means as John later says, “…we go to the pews in the sky”. Yes, we look forward to being with the Lord and we know we will be worshipping and yet it can be easy to wonder how time is measured there. What else might we do? Mansions…what do they look like compared to what is considered a mansion here on earth? We go to a feast, but what will the taste of food be like there?
If we are honest with ourselves, there are some things in this world that we love despite all the flaws on this earth and with those that inhabit it. I love the beauty of sunrises and sunsets, the sound of a gurgling stream, the smell of roses in my garden, the taste of ripe blackberries, and the view of a velvet sky sprinkled with stars. There’s Boom Lake in Alberta, Canada that takes my breath away and the sound of a mountain stream outside a hotel in Lake Louise that nourishes my soul. There’s the view of the mountains of eastern Tennessee from the patio of a favorite resort where we have stayed. They all remind me of the One who created all this. I think He might even smile at the pleasure they give me (or any of us) along with other things He created that I haven’t listed. Will He have created anything such as this in eternity ahead?
If I look at scripture about the future carefully, I see more than one or two references to a “new heaven and a new earth”. That goes beyond my imagination to conceive. Does a “new earth” mean something akin to what Eden may have been before the fall? Do our hearts have some awareness that we were meant for something more than what we know here? Is that what drives us with a hunger we cannot satisfy?
In All Things New John Eldredge challenges me to look more closely at the passages and the way the words appear:
“Notice also that God promises to make current things new—as opposed to making all new things. If God were wiping away reality as we know it and ushering in a new reality, the phrase would have been ‘I am making all new things!”. But that’s not what he says, and God is very careful about what he says.”
Whatever is out there ahead of me or any of us, I think it’s going to be amazing. If God has created the incredible beauty we already can see, the hope and anticipation of His perfection in the time ahead is a marvelous thing indeed. I wonder if it will be a little like going from the black and white TV’s of not so many years ago to the high definition sets we watch today that nearly makes us feel we are “in” the picture with the brilliant colors and full rich surround sounds. (I’m sure that is a pale metaphor, but maybe gives a sense of what may be ahead.)
As I think about it now, maybe I can’t think of what to put on a “bucket list” because even though I will face physical death here, I will go on living into eternity and life there is beyond description and life to the fullest!!
Being His daughter completed anything I would ever put on a “bucket list” even though I look forward to things I will still do this side of “amazing”!