No One in Christ Ever Misses Out
Whatís on your bucket list?
A bucket list is a list of things to do before you die ó before you
ďkick the bucket.Ē In the 2007 movie, Morgan Freeman and Jack
Nicholson play two very different people brought together through
their cancer treatment. Together they set out to tick off as many
items as they can from their combined bucket list.
So whatís on your list? Swim with dolphins? Visit the Niagara Falls?
See the Mona Lisa? Learn to play the violin? Walk on the Great Wall of
China? Shake hands with the President?
Even if you donít have an official list of items or events that you
want to do, many of us have expectations for what we will be able to
accomplish before we die: own our own house, or fall in love, or trade
the job we have for the passion we love. These are all kept in a sort
of list that lives in our minds behind everything else that we do. Are
you consciously or subconsciously working through your own list?
Bucket List Tyranny
There is a certain tyranny that goes with the bucket list. As soon as
something joins the list, then the pressure is on to find a way to
tick it off. Or people say things like, ďYou really must raft down the
ďMust I? Perhaps I should. Perhaps Iím missing out. What kind of life
am I living when I havenít even rafted down the Grand Canyon? My life
is so empty.Ē
But the gospel liberates us from the tyranny of the bucket list.
I was once watching a documentary on the natural history of inland
China. And the scenery was breathtaking. One particular view caught my
imagination: a dramatic, deep gorge with lush vegetation clinging to
the cliff-sides. So naturally I thought how great it would be to visit
it. I wanted to see it for myself.
But then I began to work out what might be involved. Iíd need to save
up a lot of money. It wouldnít really work if I joined a tour ó I
didnít want to hop up in a minibus, take a photo, and then leave. So
Iíd need to plan how to get there myself. And what about the language?
Would I need a visa? It was quickly starting to sound like a big
And then it occurred to me that I could wait to see it in the new
creation. I didnít have the time or resources to make the trip in this
life. But I could make it in the next life. Thereíll be plenty of time
Itís a liberating thought. I donít have to experience everything in
this life because I have a next life, eternal life. If I commit myself
to serving God in my locality now, making sacrifices along the way, I
wonít miss out. No one who has served Christ faithfully in this life
will arrive in the new creation with regrets.
The Liberation of All Creation
Paul says one day ďthe creation itself will be set free from its
bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the
children of GodĒ (Romans 8:21). God is not going to bin this world and
replace it with another. Heís not going to let Satan have the final
word on this planet. Still less are we going to flit around on clouds.
In Revelation 21:1Ė2, heaven comes to earth and all things are made
I donít know whether Niagara Falls will be there in the new creation.
I think they might, but I donít know. I donít know whether my Chinese
gorge will be there. I donít know whether Iíll be able to swim with
dolphins, see the Mona Lisa, play the violin, or walk the Great Wall
of China. But Iím confident Iíll not be disappointed.
When Jesus, who is Wisdom personified, describes the creation of the
world he says,
I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the children of man. (Proverbs 8:30Ė31)
And this will be our experience at the re-creation of the world. Weíll
be filled with delight day after day. And we havenít even started to
speak of the centerpiece of the new creation: the glory of God in
So donít be intimidated by anyoneís bucket list. Let go of the things
that are distracting you from serving Christ.
A Simple List, an Easy Yoke
In fact, hereís my suggestion. Why not create a hole-in-the-bucket
list? A list of things that can fall out of the bucket list. Identify
the things you feel the pressure to do, but which actually you donít
have to do.
Always wished you could see the pyramids? Put it on your
hole-in-the-bucket list. Now you donít need to save up or plan a
complicated journey. See how liberating it is! Always had a sense that
you should learn a musical instrument? Let it go. Feel inadequate
because youíre still renting instead of owning? Throw it on your
hole-in-the-bucket list. And then get on with life. Thereís much more
now that God has called us to elsewhere.
Here are some of the things on my list.
Learn to speak French.
Read War and Peace.
Watch ďThe West Wing.Ē
Of course thereís nothing wrong with any of these things. If skiing is
your hobby, then good for you. Ditto if youíre a West Wing fan. Or a
Tolstoy fan. Leisure, culture, learning, travel are all generous gifts
from our heavenly Father. And spending time relaxing is an important
way in which we recognize that weíre finite people who need to rest,
as well as justified people who donít need to prove ourselves.
The point is I donít need to have every great experience now. I donít
need to be distracted from serving Christ. I donít need to worry that
Iím missing out. Iím not missing out. No one who has Christ misses
Freedom from a list of our own expectations is real freedom. We need
to make sure we have time for the bucket list that really matters. The
gospel gives us this. And, graciously, the list of our gospel duties
is not a thousand lines long. It is mercifully short, with only two
items. But these two simple things are the things we really need to
give our time to before we die: 1. Love God. 2. Love others.