The 2008 movie “Bucket List” told the story of two men who escaped from their cancer ward to complete their ‘bucket list’—things they wanted to do before they died.
In Isaiah 38, we read about the time King Hezekiah became ill and God told him to get his house in order because he was going to die. But when Hezekiah pleaded with God, God healed him and offered him fifteen more years to live—fifteen years to complete anything he had left on his bucket list.
Most of us have no idea when we will die. My mother was active and healthy up to the time she found out she had cancer, and the remaining six months of her life were fully devoted to radiation and chemo treatments. No time for a bucket list.
But God gave Hezekiah a unique gift. He told him the year he would die.
Whatever was on Hezekiah's bucket list, I’m sure these two things were NOT:
1. Do something stupid that will contribute to the eventual ruin of the country.
2. Raise an evil, wicked son to be the next king.
But both of these things happened in those final fifteen years of his life.
Soon after his recovery, Hezekiah (motivated by pride*) allowed envoys from Babylon to view all of Judah's treasures, a political blunder that would eventually destroy his kingdom. Three years after his miraculous healing, Hezekiah fathered a son named Manasseh who would become one of Judah’s most evil kings.
After rereading the story of Hezekiah, I wrote down the first item on my bucket list:
1. Get to know the Lord better.
In some ways this isn't really a bucket list item...it's a life goal. I've done the church, Bible study and quiet time thing since I accepted Christ in 1974, but I've never sat down and planned a strategy for getting to know the Lord better.
At first it may sound "unspiritual" to have a strategy. After all, this is a relationship, not a career goal. But we plan our other relationships, even if we don't do it consciously: We think of ways to get to know a person. We learn their likes and dislikes and we observe their character. If we hit it off, we start getting together more regularly. And if we grow to trust them, we openly share our hearts with them and bring them into our inner circle. All of these things can apply to our relationship with the Lord.
God tells us to:
- prepare our minds for action (1 Pet. 1:13)
- study so we can handle God's Word correctly (2 Timothy 2:15)
- be very serious about "working out our salvation," even though He is the one who works in us to will and to act according to His good purposes (Phil. 2:12,13).
If I don't take my relationship with the Lord seriously, I will most certainly end up like Hezekiah--doing proud and foolish things that I could have avoided.
There's nothing wrong with having things like skydiving, hang gliding, deep sea diving or mountain climbing on our bucket lists, but these things fade in significance when compared to the thrill of knowing the Lord!
* 2 Chron. 32:25, 31
Gail is pictured with two of her six grandchildren.