The Bucket List You and I Need to Write
I’m writing from a small town in Southern France. When we scurried out the door of our home three days ago, I was vacuuming like a mad woman. Mark said, “It’s fine, Jennifer, you’ve done what you can. You’ve done your best. It’s time to go!” Time was up. I had to concede, leaving the job somewhat unfinished.
I had been cleaning for days, weeks even. Because we were having house-sitters.
I wanted their stay in our home to be a blessing to them and not a nuisance. I also didn’t want them to the think we’re gross. You know, sticky shelves in the fridge, all manner of mayhem in the pantry, toilets that are past due. I scrubbed and organized with vigor.
Once we left town there would be no turning back. I wouldn’t be there to straighten this, tuck that, wipe down whatever. It would just be them and my house. For better or worse.
So when Mark hurried me out the door, I felt the finality of it. I humphed, “You’re right. That’ll have to be good enough.”
Departing Home, Departing Earth
As my sister-in-law drove us the many miles to Denver’s distant airport, I looked out the backseat window and thought If only I was as concerned about leaving Earth as I am about leaving my house. If only I could apply that same urgency to accomplishing kingdom work in this lifetime.
Our deadline for leaving town was definite and I treated it as such. I carefully thought about the closets that needed tidying, the showers that needed scrubbing, the sheets that needed washing. And while the deadline for the end of my life is yet unknown, it is indeed definite. Our ends are imminent.
And we only have this lifetime to accomplish whatever it is the Lord has tasked us with. When you and I arrive in heaven, it will be final. We will never again be able to share the gospel, offer a cup of cold water in Jesus’s name, alleviate suffering, magnify his name amongst people who don’t know him.
What if I applied the same diligence to kingdom work as I did to getting a clean house? What if I sat down with a calendar, pen and paper, and listed all the jobs I sensed the Lord may have signed me to get done? What if I mapped it all out on the calendar, delineating the times and places for gospel work over the next many months and years? I could prioritize the most pressing tasks and move on from there.
How much more urgent is my neighbor’s salvation than removing the dust bunnies from under all the beds? How much more important are the spiritually and physically hungry than wiped window sills? How much more crucial to hear from Jesus, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” (Matthew 15:21) than to hear from a house-sitter, “Your house is really clean.”
The Only Bucket List We Need is a Kingdom Bucket List
Did you know that one day Earth and heaven will be made new? Not only will those who are in Christ be resurrected, but heaven and Earth will be too. In Revelation John recorded, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people'” (Revelation 21:1-3).
After we die, and after Jesus returns to Earth, and after you and I have received our resurrection bodies, we will walk here again. We will dwell here with God and other believers. We will be back. We will likely have the chance to climb mountains we never saw in this life, to swim in seas we never visited this time around, to marvel at all the things we missed on this side of heaven. Unlike cleaning my house for house sitters, we don’t have to fret now about getting it all done—we’ll have another chance.
But what we won’t get another chance to do is kingdom work. This is it, as far as that goes. It’s now, in this life, or never.
It seems silly to say out loud—but I want to share Christ with the same tenacity and insistence I have in getting my house clean before guests come over. I want to be as burdened for my hurting friends and and family as I am for tidying my kitchen. I want to pursue the things that have eternal significance more than the things that will pass away.
May the Lord himself turn my priorities inside out and upside down. May he help me to view life with an eternal perspective. May I make to-do lists and schedule kingdom tasks with a kingdom calendar in mind. May I be found sharing Jesus like a madwoman—rather than vacuuming like a madwoman!—when he returns or calls me home. May I watch for him and work for him because “I know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13).
When it’s time for me to depart this life, when my day comes, may it be truthfully said to me, “It’s fine Jennifer, you’ve done what you can. You’ve done your best. It’s time to go!”