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The Really Best Empty Bucket List

Posted by Angela Sawtell , 12 September 2012 · 1309 views

Recently Sarah Bourns, a sender of college short-term teams and a mobilizer for longer term workers, wrote on the On Mission Blog about the intense level of fire and zeal the "Passion Generation" has for changing the world. As Sarah wrote, "I've seen too many of my friends and students, not to mention myself, be quick to jump on every train that says it's off to make a difference. It's just so exciting to take a stand on something that matters! But if we're honest, it's also trendy to be earth conscious, it's popular to talk about social justice, it's fashionable to wear Tom's shoes, and famous people everywhere are giving their money to clean water and AIDS prevention . . . It's all the rage, really."

Desires for these thrilling experiences can sum up to a fascinating bucket list where each check mark proves that we are really out there making a difference.

. . . Check, check, check... and later our hearts are still black-holes absorbing every adrenaline-driven experience. The bucket list grows with the experiences that will seemingly provides us with proof that we live full, happy, and selfless lives. However, for us to truly live the lives we hope our bucket lists reflect, we must step outside of ourselves, and recognize this one simple truth. Ann Voskamp put it this way, "Experiences are a grace, yes­–but ultimately? Exhilaration isn't in experiences, but in exalting Christ."

Exalting Christ . . . isn't that why the heroes in history packed their belongings in coffins to go overseas? That they may hear peoples of all nations and tongues exalt the one true King for ever and ever? There is nothing like standing in a room listening to our brothers and sisters worship God in their own tongue. It is an entire step further to hear someone exalt God in a way they never have before. That, friends, is truly a gift from God.

Psalm 145 exclaims, "I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever." These are the praises that our souls long to hear humanity sing. We may want to help minimize our carbon footprint; eliminate hunger, dig wells, and fight human trafficking, but the dreams I want to keep me up at night are of hearing the peoples of the world exclaim their praises to God.

The exhilaration doesn't come from packing our bags, moving outside of our own contexts, and getting our hands "dirty." It isn't about the satisfaction of checking another item off of our bucket lists to do something that's "all the rage." First, we must grasp that exhilaration comes from exalting Christ. It takes an emptying of our bucket lists, a willingness to lay every dream, desire, and hope at His feet. It means adopting his dreams and desires as our own, and to recognize Him as the hope of the world.

Sarah recognized this in her blog by coming to a powerful conclusion, "I'm learning, slowly but surely, that passion about anything less than the Person of Jesus and His glory can easily fade, disappoint, drain me, or accomplish very little. But as I fix my eyes on Christ and come to know Him more, He fuels me with His vision and purpose for reaching His lost and hurting world."

When I empty my own bucket list and replace it by fixing my eyes of Jesus, a transformation happens in my heart. I can no longer turn a blind eye towards things that matter to Him. I am compelled; I absolutely must recognize His heart for His world. When the time comes, both the good and bad experiences will be the ones that I can lift up praises and exultation for because it is no longer ultimately about the experience itself, but instead solely about Him.

When I empty my bucket list, He fills my cup. When I empty my bucket list, He replaces it with His own desires and purposes. When I empty my bucket list, I can no longer mistakenly believe that it's about me, but I must recognize the truth that is only about Him. When I empty my bucket list, He is exalted.

  • Judy Collins, Gloria Wilkins, Cheryl Umbel and 8 others like this



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