In recent days, more than one person has mentioned to me things they hope to do while they still live on the earth. Some have called it a "bucket list" - a list of things they want to do, places they hope to see, experiences they plan to have before they die. Such comments have sparked my thinking. I've asked myself and my husband, "what do you still hope to accomplish in life?" The strange thing is, neither one of us has a very exciting answer. Perhaps it is because God has already allowed me/us to do so many things, fulfilled so many dreams. Perhaps it is because I am fairly content with my life. Or perhaps it is because, like it is said of Abraham in Hebrews 11, I'm "looking forward to the city with foundations, whose designer and builder is God."
But the truth is, I don't have a "bucket list." Well, at least, not an earthly goal type one. I don't care to get a tattoo, go bungee jumping, skydiving, white-water rafting, or parasailing. (As fun as those may be to the daredevils among us!)
I don't care to own a bigger house (I'm thinking downsizing sounds good right now), or a fancy car, or make the New York Times Bestseller's list, nice as that might sound. I would enjoy wintering in a cottage on the beach (in warm climate), but I like my house right where it is too.
I don't need a personal chauffeur or a private jet or to live in the world of the rich and famous. I don't care if I ever walk the red carpet in Hollywood or meet the Queen of England, though both are fun to see on TV. I love to travel and find Europe fascinating, but if I never travel there, it won't break my heart. I'd love to visit the pyramids and the ruins of Babylon, and Petra and Jericho, but not at the risk of the unrest in those countries.
I would love to cuddle grandchildren someday and live closer to my family. But as long as I know my children walk in truth, distance doesn't matter quite so much. Someday, in that city with foundations whose designer and builder is God, I'll get to travel and hang out with loved ones for eternity. That hope, which marked the lives of the patriarchs, makes enduring the difficulties here less difficult. (Read the faith chapter in Hebrews 11 for a whole list of people who felt the same way.)
Still, it seems like a bucket list is a good idea. Better to live on purpose than just react to what life brings our way, right? And yet, when I think about the future, I realize that the only hopes and dreams I hold close to my heart are spiritual, because they are deeply held longing and prayers for those I love.
Does that sound pious? I hope not. (I hesitate to even say these things lest readers think I'm holding myself above others. I'm not.) It's just that I've lived long enough to experience a lot of life, and while it is good and enjoyable and actually pretty great to do new things, loving God is greater, better, and brings joy to which nothing else can compare. And yet sometimes love carries with it a burden, an ache for everyone to understand this great love that passes human understanding.
Sometimes the longing overwhelm me. I ride my bike in circles at the park, praying - sometimes out loud. Anyone listening probably thinks I'm on my cell phone, since I have headphones on and the phone in my pocket. Too bad I can't actually pray over a cell phone and get a direct answer from the Lord! But His Spirit doesn't need our technology. He simply requires our faith.
Perhaps, as I see those prayers answered, my bucket list will change. Someday maybe I will hold grandchildren and it will spark a whole new list of longings.
In the meantime, I know there will always be things I want, but nothing that I crave - not like I crave the love of Jesus, for myself and for each of you. Nothing on earth will ever bring me greater joy than knowing my loved ones, family, friends, even distant acquaintances, know and love Him too.