During the last few years this term has become popular as a list of things to get done before “kicking the bucket.” It has even been the theme of various movies, usually with a comical twist. In most cases the list consists of extreme dreams. Some examples might be to visit the seven wonders of the world or win the lottery or discover the cure for the common cold. It would make more sense to make a thimble list of achievable acts. Among those could be: climb Pike’s Peak, learn to play the piano, write a novel, travel to a foreign country, take a cruise, etc, etc.
What if Christians decided to make a bucket list or at least a thimble list? At the top should be to become more like Jesus. This might involve achievable acts such as: To help the poor, To teach others the gospel, To love our enemies, To be more forgiving, To pray more often, and on and on.
The bucket list should exceed our fondest dreams, in short, extreme dreams. Want to live in heaven? Check. (Mt 19:21) (Heb 12:23) Want to live forever? Check (I Thes 4:14) Want to see Jesus face to face? Check. (1 Jn 3:2) (Jn 14:1-4) Want to be like Christ? Check. (Rom 8:17) Want to see God the Father? Done. (Rev 21:3-4)
Before filling that bucket, however, one must make sure there are no leaks in it. Is the bucket designed by God or a rusty one full of the holes of one’s own preferences? Is that bucket made of grace and faith? (Eph 2:8) Is it forged with trust and obedience? (Acts 2:38) Let’s add prayer, (1 Th 5:17) (Jas 5:16) hope, (Rom 12:12) (Rom 15:4) and love. (Gal 5:13) (Mt 5:44) (1 Cor 13:13) Let each one be bucket-ready for those extreme dreams.
A foster child receives parental care but is not kin by blood or related legally. A guardian is a person legally entrusted with the care and responsibility of another person, usually a minor, who is often called a ward. Neither of these is the same as an adoption although they sometimes lead to it.
One can adopt another person and thus be an adopter or one can be adopted and become an adoptee. However, one can also adopt an attitude, policy, course or habit. What or whom one adopts can make a huge change in one’s life. The old ways may be discarded or can be melded into this new situation. The age and experience of an adoptee will cause the process to vary and, no doubt, fluctuate almost daily. Those who successfully blend a new human into an existing family deserve our praise and admiration. Adopting a new pet or a new policy can also dramatically change the dynamics of one’s routine.
In one sense all created humans are God’s children whom He loves dearly. (Jn 3:16) However, as we examine several scriptures, we begin to understand the deeper relationship He desires. It is true that nothing in all creation is able to cause God to stop loving us. (Rom 8:39) The same chapter talks of stubborn children who rejected God’s love and became “God-haters.” (v30) Therefore, “God gave them over to the sinful desires of their hearts… (v 24) In another place we find that God will allow those who love a lie and hate the truth to ignore His grace. (2 Thes 2:10-11)
God very much wants His adopted children to reciprocate His love. (Eph 1:5) He desires, “born-again” (Jn 3:3) (Jn 1:12) children. Jesus calls those who are immersed into Him (Rom 6:3) His “brothers and the children God has given me.” (Heb 2:11-13) Everyone who loves and obeys the Father is born of God and loves the Son as well. (1 Jn 5:1) Those who do this receive, “…the Spirit of sonship and by Him we cry, …Abba Father.” As His adopted children, we are not foster children nor wards, “…we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ…” (Rom 8:14-17) (Gal 4:4-7) Our full inheritance awaits us in the place Jesus is preparing for us. (Jn 14:1-3)
There are certainly plenty of events in our secular life that cause us dissatisfaction, anxiety and perhaps even depression. Unfulfilled or delayed promises by governments and commercial entities are a couple of examples. Unconcern or outright lies by employees and managers who should be working to facilitate our purchasing or dining experiences are becoming all too common. Recently a check cleared our bank that was sent to our insurance agency two months ago. They told us that we were in danger of having our coverage terminated after denying they had ever received that check. This happened again later but an apology is probably out of the question.
Interaction with our fellow humans are also a source of frustration. Being stood up for a date or appointment with no good excuse, rude behavior by passengers and drivers, failure to acknowledge one’s presence in a group are just a few annoyances that produce frustration. The problem for Christians is that frustration can quickly turn to anger and hate.
The Old Testament prophet, Jonah, might be the poster child for frustration because of his dissatisfaction at God’s choice to forgive the wicked residents of Nineveh. (Jnh 3:10) (Jnh 4:1-3) They were a cruel people full of prostitution, witchcraft and exploitation. Even though Jonah warned them to repent or face destruction, he was extremely frustrated when the inhabitants repented and God had compassion on them and didn’t destroy them. Jonah was so angry and depressed that he was ready to die. (Jnh 4:3)
If we are totally honest, we will admit that our ego is at the center of most frustrations. We may feel we are treated unfairly or with lack of respect. Just a little introspection might show that we sometimes blame God like Jonah did. God used a vine to teach him to be concerned about other people, even enemies. (Jnh 4:5-10) We need to be attentive to Him in case He has a lesson for us about our frustrations.
Several years ago a Mexican-American country musician named Baldemar Huerta, a.k.a. Freddy Fender, had a huge hit with a ballad called—BEFORE THE NEXT TEARDROP FALLS. It had a very catchy melody with a poignant message. It was one of the highest rated records ever sung bilingually. One of the stanzas said, “If he ever breaks your heart, if a teardrop ever starts, I’ll be there before the next teardrop falls.” Another said, “I’ll be there anytime you need me by your side to drive away every teardrop that you cried.”
Even though these words evoke strong feelings in anyone who has ever been in that situation, how much stronger they become between a Christian and one’s God. He tells us in the Old and New Testaments, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Dt 31:6) (Heb 13:5) Jesus longed to take His people in His arms as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. (Mt 23:37)
We have a God who knows our thoughts before they ever become words or actions. (Lk 7:39-46) Yet Jesus understood the human heart and the emotions that produce tears and He demonstrated this at Lazarus’ tomb. (Jo 11:33-35) He defended a weeping, sinful woman whom others rejected and distained. (Lk 7:36-47) There are many other scriptures in which Jesus shows his compassion for the heartbroken. (Mt 14:14) (Mt 15:32) (Mk 1:41) (Jas 5:11)
The ones that resonate most with me are those that tell us that God will actually reach out and wipe away every tear from our eyes. (Rev 7:17) (Rev 21:3-4) God is called the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. We are given a heavenly model so that we can pass that comfort on to those in trouble. (2 Cor 1:3-4)