Culture & Society · Death

The Bucket List

On Sept 10, 2014 Steven Ertelt writing for National, posted a story about Dan and Jenna Haley and their precious child, Shane, who was diagnosed with anencephaly, a malformation of the baby’s skull and brain. Those born with anencephaly do not long survive. Not only have Dan and Jenna “celebrated life by choosing life for their child, they’ve hit on a wonderful idea to make little Shane’s life as fulfilling as possible—before and after birth. They’ve created a Bucket List for little Shane.” A Bucket List is a list of things to do and see prior to the end of life. The concept is based on The Bucket List, a 2007 comedy-drama movie about two terminally ill men on their road trip with a wish list of things to do before they “kick the bucket”. The term “Bucket List” is now part of American culture.

Thinking about the movie, and the article, I began to think about a Biblical Bucket List. What did God’s people want to see and do before they died? This is what I found.

Abraham wanted to find a wife for Isaac (Genesis 23-25).

Isaac wanted to bless Jacob and Esau (Genesis 27).

Jacob, in his old age, learning that his beloved Joseph was still alive, wanted to go down to Egypt to see him (Genesis 45).

Moses wanted to look at the Promised Land (Numbers 27).

Elisha, knowing that Elijah would be taken from him, wanted to stay by the side of Elijah and go wherever he went (2 Kings 2).

The Magi wanted to see the King of the Jews (Matthew 2).

Simon wanted to see Messiah before he died (Luke 2).

The Greeks travelled to Jerusalem. They wanted to see Jesus (John 12).

Jesus wanted to celebrate a last fellowship meal with His disciples (Luke 22).

Paul wanted to go to Rome (Acts 19).

I am sure someone will be able to add to this list.

Many years ago, as a child, I remember hearing sermons preached about the coming of Christ. While I longed for the return of Jesus I remember thinking, “Lord, I want you to return, but not yet. I have so much to do.” In seed form, in my own youthful way, I was thinking of my own “Bucket List.” What was on that list?

I wanted to preach at a very young age. It happened. First sermon at age 14. At age 15 licensed by Coliseum Place Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana. This historic church, founded in 1854, survived Hurricane Besty in 1965, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and then burnt to the ground on June 21, 2006.

I wanted to be a published author. It took 44 years but, done.

I wanted to go into the military. Mission accomplished. Check.

I wanted to go to college. The only family member to do so. Graduated.

I wanted to get married to a beautiful and loving woman. Done. 36 years and counting.

I wanted to have at least two wonderful children. Check. That would be Tara and Adam.

I wanted to travel the world as my Uncle Gene did. Done. Twelve nations to date.

Well, the years passed. The Lord was patient. He did not return. One by one my youthful heart’s desires were checked.

Today, I am more than ready for the return of Jesus. I look forward to that glorious event. In fact, I prefer it over dying. Most people do. I reflected again over the desires of my young heart and thought, “All that I wanted to do in life, I have done.” Or so I thought. In 2005 the Lord sent a doctor to tell me, “You have cancer”. Suddenly, I wanted to create a new Bucket List and talk about it with the Lord. I made my list and presented it to heaven. It was a very audacious second list.

“Lord, I want to survive cancer.” I did, after sixteen grueling chemotherapy cocktail sessions.

“Lord, I want to see some grandchildren.” The Lord said, “How many would you like? How does seven sound?” I said, “Seven is a grand number. Seven is the number of perfection. Seven grandchildren would be fine.” And there they are, all seven numbered. (Numbers are easier to remember than names. Hey, just teasing kids. Papa knows who you are.)

“Lord, I want to find at least one lasting, loving, and faithful friend.” I have two. check.

“Lord, I want to go to Israel and Egypt.” The Lord said, “You better buy a ticket. There is going to be big trouble soon in the Middle East.” Tickets purchased. Holy Land toured. Pyramids climbed. Check.

“Lord, China would be interesting to see.” The Lord said, “If you get to the Great Wall you will find it steep and hard to walk up and down.” “Lord, it would still be nice to go.” Went to China. Went to the Great Wall. Walked about a mile on the Wall. Had to go back down. “Lord, you were right. I think I will just use this hand rail to slide part of the way back down to the bus.” Done. Many tourists surprised. Hey, it worked. China, check.

“Lord, should I add something more to my Bucket’s List?” The Lord said, “Well, you have emergency open heart surgery coming up.” I said, “I am going to expand my Bucket List a little bit more. Lord, I want to enjoy life on the other side of open heart surgery.” The Lord said, “I will let the best doctor at Holmes Regional Medical Center operate on you. His name is Dr. Matthew Campbell.” Glad to report that the eight hour open heart surgery was successful. Still alive. Check.

“Lord, one last thing. I promise. Maybe. I sure would like to enjoy a few years of peace and quiet in the sunset years of life. Lord, stress is not good for a diabetic, or a heart patient.” The Lord said, “If you really want peace and quiet then you better stop preaching, teaching, and writing. That would stop a lot of grief and misunderstanding.” Not done. Still to be checked. Still wanting to tell people about Jesus, and study the Bible with anyone interested.

So, what would be on your Bucket List? If you have one, “How is it going?” “Are you able to check off the things you would like to see and do before being graduated into glory?”

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