I have always loved the concept of a bucket list but never actually made one. Sure, there are a gazillion things I’d love to do before I head home to Heaven, but I’m not the type of person to make a list of them. I am a list maker, have no doubt, but I’ve simply never considered creating a list solely for the sake of dreaming; after thinking on this topic for a while, though, maybe that needs to change! In truth, my life has always been so chaotic that it has never been a priority to simply sit and ponder all things footloose and fancy-free. I usually just take each new experience in stride and tuck it away inside my soul as a gift.
As a Christian, I feel like the “normal” things that many believers would put on their bucket lists are: visit the Holy Land, read through the entire Bible, and lead someone to Christ just to name a few. All of these are worthy goals, no question about it, but when I think about what Jesus basically challenged us to do while He was on Earth, it’s quite straightforward. Love God and love people. That is the gist of the Bible as a whole, so my condensed bucket list only contains a couple of simple (but not easy) concepts.
Take the “Love God” part, for example. To love the Lord with all of our hearts, souls, and minds means that we are to set Him above everything else in our lives. By doing so, He agrees to fulfill every longing we ever have. In essence, we should be oozing with love, but is that actually an attainable goal? In reality, sometimes I question it! When I am in a particularly emotional or needy state, I wonder how in the world I am going to get out of bed, much less reflect God’s love that day. The key is allowing Him to truly be our joy and strength, and effort is required on our part for that to take shape. When we give Him complete permission to be our guide on this journey called life, others take notice and reap the benefits. Even when we are in a valley, there should still be something that exudes hope and joy because what He has poured into us should flow right back out. Easy to cultivate? No. Worth the effort? Without a doubt.
This is the foundation for my first bucket list item: Legacy. Something handed down from the past can be considered very valuable, but nothing even comes close to a life that perpetually points to Jesus. I have had conversations with many people over the years who have told me how strong a role that a praying parent, grandparent, or mentor played in their lives. I have a few trusted friends whom I know pray consistently for me; more importantly, they let me know it! Intercession is certainly a component of leaving a strong spiritual legacy as is being an avid listener and a compassionate friend. Life is downright brutal at times, and there are moments when all someone needs is a neutral party who will simply be present.
It’s amazing how a situation can take on a different perspective simply when someone can safely share their thoughts and feelings. Even a genuine smile can convey your love for Christ. We know His love is the most powerful thing that has ever existed, and I firmly believe that others feel that love when we allow it to invade our own lives. I want to be the kind of human being that radiates God’s love and am remembered for it. Though circumstances in my life are not always a picnic, I try to be mindful that there is always someone fighting a bigger battle, and they may need the Father’s love even more than I do at that moment. Knowing this reminds me that I always need to be ready with a full supply of God’s love to share just in case I am the only one to fulfill that need.
Now for the “Love people” part; this is the tough one. As you can imagine, loving God and loving people should blend into one another. After all, loving God should mean that we love the very ones He came to save. I would like to think that this one is easy for all of us to do, but in this day and age, I’m not so sure. We’re all so self-absorbed with our technology and personal agendas that we have strayed far from loving others as the Father intends. When we’re feeling high on life and everything is hunky dory, we’ll volunteer a few hours at the local soup kitchen or give that homeless guy hanging out downtown a buck or two. Yes, those things are a wonderful expression of love, and the Word says that every small act done unto the least of these is the same as doing them for Jesus himself. Sending a text, making a phone call, or mailing a card are such simple things, but the worth it instills inside someone is priceless.
Consider what you would be giving away if you made a much bigger commitment, like getting to know someone in your church or community who’s struggling, come alongside them to provide support and wisdom. Open your home to a foster child (or children if you are so led), and provide opportunities laced with love and compassion, the likes of which they have never known. The point is doing it without expectation of return on your investment because it may be that you don’t receive one! At least, not for a while, or sometimes, not on this side of eternity.
Other than the pure satisfaction of knowing that you poured into a life that God considers priceless, you may never know what fruit was produced by your sowing. The law of sowing and reaping requires that we sow, then wait…wait some more…probably wait some more…then we reap. Loving people can be so simple if they are easy to love, but more times than not, love is messy, risky, and quite complicated. Ask yourself this: where would you be if God hadn’t loved you enough to send Jesus while you were still dead in your sin? He embraced this mess called humanity solely out of love. I’m still attempting to figure that one out, by the way. I’m pretty sure it will take me an entire lifetime to do that.
Featured Image by Aaron Burden