I added an item to my bucket list this week. Which was an odd thing to do because I don’t actually have a bucket, or a list, or any desire to make a list to put into a bucket. But now I have one imaginary heart shaped piece of pale pink paper lying folded on the bottom of an imaginary shiny, green, polka dot covered metal bucket.
I am not a dreamer or visionary. I admire that quality in others. But the farthest I look ahead is about one week. And that one week is all planned the preceding weekend with everything placed neatly within its boundaries. Safe. Secure. Stable.
Bucket list items are dreams for the future. A future I cannot control. They also tend to include elements of danger and spontaneity. Uncontrollable dangerous spontaneity. That is not at all enticing to me. Even if I downgrade it to adventurous it would not silence the warning bells and suddenly cause me to reassess and disregard the risk of potential … potential what? Disappointment? Hurt? Suffering?
Therefore, it was surprisingly strange that as I was reading my Bible one morning, the thought that gleefully filled my mind was “I want to do that! I need to add that to my bucket list!!” Which, I remind you, never existed until that moment.
I reacted to God’s words with joy, with awe, with wonder. My initial, immediate response pure and unaffected by the implausibility of me physically climbing a magnificent mountain. Or any mountain at all.
“… Let the people of Sela sing for joy; shout praises from the mountaintops!” Isaiah 42:11
Those instructions to shout praises from the mountaintops resonated within my soul. How majestic! How glorious! How free and unencumbered!
The first part of that verse is a more realistic picture for me:
“Join in the chorus, you desert towns; …” Isaiah 42:11
Joining in the chorus is something I could do, even if the other choristers tended to be slightly more boisterous and energetic than myself. I am tall. I usually stand partially hidden in the back row.
But determinedly and intentionally ascend a mountain? Stand firmly on the peak with my arms raised to the sky? Have enough breath remaining in my lungs to laugh and sing and exalt the goodness of my mighty God with complete abandon? With worship as the sole reason for my spiritual trek?
It sounds wonderful and admirable, doesn’t it? I have spent time considering why this scenario has captivated me. In my vision, I am not trudging up the mountain. My feet and soul become lighter as I near the physical location where I can be closest to God while here on earth. God’s presence is palpable there in the pristine, fresh openness. I am whole and free and blissfully unaffected by pain and sin in this majestic mountaintop Garden of Eden where nothing hinders the delight God and I have in each other.
And then, ashamedly, I realized my mountaintop motive was not as virtuous as I wanted to believe. Perhaps there was an element of selfishness in seeking a reward and personal fulfillment from God in return for my praise. I wished to receive joy, peace, contentment, and wholeness through my worship. Maybe even because of it.
I am not certain whether my desire to be closer to God and for Him to be closer to me is selfish or the natural outcome of our growing relationship. I believe God designed the human heart to not be fully satisfied until every crevice and corner is saturated with Him. There was a time in the Garden of Eden when the human heart was famously filled with God’s perfection. And God has promised that there is a time coming when it will be again!
But today, I am here. Living and wrestling in this middle space where my soul longs to be freed from the brokenness within and surrounding me. That is a good thing. That I know where, or rather Who, that true source of freedom comes from is an even better thing.
I don’t have to climb a mountain to find God. He is right here beside me. And because of that, a little green bucket with white polka dots will continue to provide me with the gentle reminder to worship God where I am. For He has promised that one day I will be shouting His praises from the mountaintops.
Maybe creating a bucket list is a good idea after all.
Item #2: rescue a puppy.