Last Sunday I was out of town for a swim meet. Shocking, I know. But I went to church and heard a fantastic sermon. Do you go to church when you are on vacation or out of town? I have never once regretted doing so. In fact, I always find it so encouraging. No matter the state of the world, there are great people who love Jesus everywhere.
The pastor was preaching from James 4.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:13-17 ESV
It’s a familiar passage, but he tied it to a modern day example I’d never heard before. He said, the guy who came up with the “bucket list” concept, Dave Freeman, hit his head at home and died. He was 47. Will and I are 47. Needless to say, Dave Freeman hadn’t checked off all the items on his list. None of us have a guarantee to live another day, or even to take another breath.
It made me think about when Jesus told the Parable of the Rich Fool who wanted to tear down his existing barns to build bigger ones.
And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. Luke 12:19-21 ESV
Do you have a specific list of things you want to do before you die? I do not. I try and live in the moment and soak up the places and experiences I am blessed to visit and have, but I’m not particularly inclined to check boxes. I love making memories with my family in new places. I enjoying trying new food and seeing new sights. But I also try to live in the reality that I may not wake up tomorrow. I want to live each day clinging to my Savior, grateful for every moment, and resting in the truth that this life isn’t all there is.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making a list of what to do before you die, so long as one entry is already checked off: Know Jesus.
“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3 ESV
No bucket item or barn store can compare with knowing the only true God!