What’s on your bucket list? You know what a bucket list is I suppose. It is a list of all those things you would like to do or see or accomplish before you die. Most such lists consist of travel destinations or activities you want to experience. I wonder if spiritual things make it onto bucket lists very often.
A bucket list is usually thought of as a list of self-indulgences or fulfillments of personal dreams and goals and spiritual growth is more likely to involve considerations of self-denial and discipline. But surely there are things in our spiritual lives that we might set our hearts on as desirable goals. After all, Jesus told us to lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven rather than on earth. And indeed, as we age, we do get weary of the burden of material things.
“Downsizing” is the thing to do. Even the wisdom of this age agrees.
Imagine yourself naked before God (if that’s not too cringe-worthy an exercise). What is it that He sees and loves? Without your achievements, status, material props and earthly desires, who are you? You are the person he created, loved and gave himself for in Christ. Surely, in responding to that love, you have become inwardly more like Him. That is what Christ’s work in us is about, making us more and more into His image. So as we consider that, it is only natural that more and more of our yearnings should be directed at allowing this work to be accomplished in us.
As we organize our lives in different ways, a bucket list can be an imaginative way to identify those things which are most important to us, and thereby reveal what our priorities are. Someone might object that I’m mixing categories here and that spiritual things don’t get rated alongside material things in this way. But I’m not so sure. We have only so much time, energy and resources to use and deciding how to use them applies to all of our activities.
What sorts of spiritual goals might we think of as important enough to be numbered among those things which we believe will make us more Christ-like, happy and content? How about goals that will undo some of the knots and hard places in our souls? Is there someone to whom we need to extend forgiveness or from whom we need to seek it? Being reconciled to others and at peace with them is a high enough priority that Jesus included it in the Lord’s Prayer. What about attitudes towards people or cultures which keep us from fully loving others as Christ has loved us? It may take some time and effort to recognize these and work on them.
The point of the bucket list idea is to encourage us to make spiritual growth as important as the material side of our lives. After all, it is who we are inwardly that we will take into eternity.