The concept of a “bucket list” has become somewhat common these days – a list of things to do, see, or experience before life’s end. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to enjoy certain parts of the world that God has created. I personally would love the opportunity to see the Grand Canyon in the USA – I’m told, and I well believe, that photos just don’t capture the real “wow factor” of it. Who knows whether I’ll ever get that opportunity?
But there is something wrong if our thinking about life and the “bucket list” only goes as far as the end of this life here on earth. Our thinking is deficient if we consider those bucket-list dreams to be ultimate things, feeling that we’ll end up profoundly disappointed if we don’t realise them.
In fact, our perspective of what we hope to achieve in this life should reach far beyond this life, to eternity. It’s worth asking ourselves,
“How is the reality of eternity shaping my thinking about the things I want to see and do? What purpose does this hope, dream, or experience have from the perspective of eternity?”
Will such “heavenly thinking” lead us to be of no earthly use? Not if we have the right kind of eternal perspective. As C. S. Lewis has said:
“[T]he Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. … It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.” (Mere Christianity, ch. 10).
Staying focussed on heaven amid all the concerns, struggles, and pressures of life – and especially amid the many trappings of our affluent, first-world lifestyles – is a real and constant battle. It’s a battle for which we need the transforming power that Jesus gives through his Spirit.