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Bucket List? I Don’t Think So.

May 19, 2014

1bbbThe term “bucket list” is, according to Miriam Webster’s Dictionary, “a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying.”  I hear of folks who say that they have a “bucket list” of things to do and places to see before they die.

Frankly, I find this kind of morbid if not narcissistic.  This is truly my own opinion, I know, but I find the idea of making a list of achievements-to-be-done not only a bit pedantic (reminding me of the woman in Camus’ The Stranger who sits at a cafe, ticking off TV shows for that evening and endless evenings ahead, with no other goal in life) but also a cry for meaning.  Is this list to be shown to other people in order to impress them?  Is a person’s worth elevated because he could afford to scale Mount Everest or sip wine on the Riviera?

Wait a minute, wait a minute…

What about people who do not have the resources and cannot afford to reach such far-flung goals? Are they less of a human being?  I know far too many people with limited funds that could never make any world travel or eye-popping events, yet are some of the most remarkable folk I’ve ever met.  Janitors, mechanics, deliverymen, homeschool moms – marvelous achieving people, every one of them.

The numerous social media sites have turned us into a generation of clanking, top-heavy toy heroes who want to look impressive while never leaving our gentleman’s farm.  This, I find, is the latest attempt at self-gratification: let’s saunter over to the backyard, next to the pump, and grab a bucket.  That’s our new trophy: a bucket.

A bucket …  list.

A Bucket List.

Oh, brother.

Whatever happened to the Cup?

It was solid and meaningful.  It still does.

The Cup holds anything you like and you can take it anywhere.  Your Cup can be sipped on a mission field in Bangladesh or at a Boys and Girls Club outreach in North Carolina.  You can have your Cup and mingle with the fine folk in the storefront church in Clarksville, Georgia or at the Indian Reservation in New Mexico.

A bucket is loud, clanging and cumbersome, to be looked at.  The Cup is mobile and active and life-enhancing.

You can carry your Cup into the prison in South Carolina.  You can share your Cup with a homeless man at the rest stop in Oklahoma.

You can have your Cup in the beautiful solitude of a sunrise with your Bible on your lap in any corner of the world.  And here’s the great part: the Cup keeps getting filled.

Why run around trying to flip things into a bucket when you can have your cup filled up by One who brings complete satisfaction?

In my career I’ve sat among millionaires and celebrities.  I’ve written for sports stars and luminaries who make more money in a week that I could make in three years.  Yet … I’ve noticed a continuous theme among most of them:  they are constantly running to fill the bucket.  I see their eyes and I see a fatigue.  Constantly filling the bucket.  Whether money, fame or power, you never know if someone else’s bucket might be fuller than yours…

Then I think about yesterday’s graduation.  I stood beside a graduating student who was grinning from ear to ear.  He hugged me and pulled me in front of his parents for a picture.

Dad stood there with a camera.  His suit coat was frayed at the cuff and his shoes were a bit scuffy.  I could see the creases of hard work lining his face.  Mom’s dress was dated and she didn’t have the latest hairstyle.  Grandma stood nearby, tottering with ill health. They didn’t look like millionaires.

But…

They were the richest people in the world at that moment.  Oh, if you could see their faces.

As I posed with their boy I looked into those parents’ shining eyes and I saw a deep, deep happiness that few things in life would replace.  Mon, Dad and Grandma had a cup that was full.  Their joy was right here, right now.  Their boy had graduated!  They would never mention financial sacrifices or physical fatigue – this was a celebration.  Wrapped up into their world was a young man they had raised and cared for.

Ah, how I love these types of people.  They have their life embedded in the One who brings much more than happiness – He brings joy.  His care and richness pour into their cups and slosh it all over, spilling this joy onto others nearby.

“My cup runneth over.”

I think of the school year’s blessing of having been able to see the salvation of some of my students and others’ decisions for full-time ministry.  Through the semester I’ve see the light bulb turn on in the classroom whenever a Bible truth is learned and I’ve also seen whenever a student lets slip a tear of compassion for a hurting colleague.  I’ve witnessed inner struggles that turned into victories.  I’ve seen students who labored at studies in class and went home to help out sick or infirm family members.  I see their cup being constantly refilled by the Lord.

I’m a teacher?  I rather think I’m a student who continues to learn each week.

As this school year draws to a close, I can say my cup has truly, truly been running over.

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2 Comments
  1. I’ll strive for the “prize” that way I won’t have to carry anything!😬
    24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
    25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they [do it] to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
    26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
    27 But I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
    1 Cor. 9

  2. Bravo, Neil! If you’re still in California, I will be out there in June for mission work in Salinas. It would be great to see you!

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