Inspiration

Bucket Lists

Ephesians 3:20

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

I don’t know about you, but my bucket list is CRAZY! There are the things I’ve already done—skydiving, bungee jumping, and shark diving, to name a few. And there are the things that I hope to do—lava diving in Hawaii, ice diving in Antarctica, performing in a flash mob (or at least being there when one breaks out), donating a kidney, adopting a baby, competing on Dancing with the Stars….and so many more. I don’t have any idea if any of these things will ever happen. But the fact that I can imagine them, and dream about them actually happening, says something to me. It gives new meaning to the fact that God’s plans for me—now and for eternity—are more ambitious, more exciting, more spectacular than any of the dreams I have for myself. You see, because of all of the outlandish things that I CAN imagine, the thought of the unimaginable and unfathomable is infinitely exciting to me.

The thought makes me want to dream big, for my future here on earth—the ways God might use me to help fulfil His purposes here; and for my eternal future—the ways that God is waiting to one day amaze me with how out-of-this-world heaven is. And He wants to amaze you, too. So be there!

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Scraps

Luke 15: 20; 23-24

“So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off,
his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son,
threw his arms around him and kissed him.
Bring the fattened calf and kill it.
Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again;
he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

“Daddy, made a mess.” This phrase is forever etched in my memory. Over a decade ago, as a 20-something single, I heard a gifted speaker and teacher utter those words as part of a message aimed at an audience of teenagers. He was sharing an illustration about his daughter, and how she would sometimes be eating Fruit Loops in the back seat of the car when she would spill them (or dump them out, as the case may be), and then casually call to the front seat, “Daddy, made a mess.” He compared her nonchalant response to us, as children of God. He explained that, often, we are careless with our decisions and our actions; then we turn to God, expecting Him to drop everything and clean up our mess. When he shared this story, I had no children, and no intention of ever having any. And yet, the story resonated with me. Largely for this reason, I think, I tend to see my kids through a lens that allows me to relate their behavior to spiritual lessons. I say all of that to introduce today’s “lesson,” or illustration, if you will.

Enter Laredo. Her breakfast sat on the table: fresh strawberries, Cheerios, and raisins (a favorite of hers at that time). I left her at the table and turned away for a minute. When I looked back, I was surprised to find her squatting down beneath her high chair, eating dried-up food scraps that had admittedly not gotten cleaned up from the night before. Gross.

But, when you think about it, it’s not so much different from the rest of us. For example, consider the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), eating pig slop in a barn when there was a feast waiting for him back home. We also are, very often, content to sit with our table scraps and garbage, instead of embracing all that God has for us. Remember that we are co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), and that God longs to bless us in ways that we can’t even imagine. We need only let Him. 

The Wren Effect

Thrity-four. That’s how old Wren was when she passed away. She was younger than I am now, and had three young children, ranging in age from one to five years old. I can’t say I knew her well, but I could tell that she was a godly woman of great faith. And I’m sure that she thought often during her final months of how much she wanted to say to her kids and her husband—but there just wasn’t time to fit it all in. Between cancer treatments and the more mundane duties of motherhood—not to mention wanting to spend every spare minute enjoying the company of family—who wants to spend their last days holed up on an office, writing it all down? And how do you decide which of your insights are most important? Worse still, what if, when your time comes, you have no advance notice, no time to even say good-bye, let alone share any parting wisdom?

So, since Wren passed away, I’ve ramped up my efforts to record, well, everything: photos; quotes from the kids; my own thoughts, feelings, experiences—basically anything that will allow my kids to see into my heart; my heart for them and for Jesus. And even if I live to a ripe old age, I imagine these memories will be a valuable window into the soul of an old woman they know simply as “Mom.”

Much Heaven

Okay, so if God has set eternity on the hearts of men, what does that mean for us? If you agree with my earlier proposition that, in some ways, Solomon got it wrong; what could he have done differently? How could he have “gotten it right?” And more importantly, what can WE do to get it right in the here and now?

Well, to me, it’s a matter of living out our earthly lives daily and fully; but with an eternal focus, purpose, and perspective. I once knew a woman who would often say that she was “just waiting around to die.” Bear in mind that she was 102 years old, and had a pretty poor quality of life for the last few of those years. I could see where she was coming from, and must confess that I’ve often felt the same way. I know that heaven is going to be so amazing that I get impatient with the waiting.

But I have work to do here yet. I know that because I woke up this morning, and I’m still breathing. When I get homesick or impatient, it helps me to think of the possibilities; to think of each day as an opportunity to find and fulfill God’s purposes for my life. And then I give thanks—for all I have, for all I have been able to see and do, for all of who God is, and for His promise of more.

It occurs to me just this moment that, in this world, we can find a little bit of heaven. And that reminds me of the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), in which the master replies to his faithful servants, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” And so, I want more than anything to be faithful in this place, knowing that “much heaven” awaits.

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