Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bottomless Bucket

The mother and daughter laughed excitedly as they tried to corral the avocados rolling in opposite directions on the conveyor belt that bore them relentlessly to the cash register. “We’re making guacamole,” the mom explained. “It’s on our summer bucket list.” Suddenly they remembered they hadn’t bought the makings for dinner, but I reminded them that after eating a whole bag of corn chips with the sure-to-succeed experiment, they wouldn’t be hungry for it anymore anyway. Still laughing they headed off to cross off another item on their vacation to-do list, leaving me to realize that with the summer one-third gone I hadn’t even taken the time to write any such items down.

Maybe their words caught my attention because I had a week’s vacation coming up, seven days as yet unplanned. I didn’t want to waste them. Yet I knew that if I left them to chance, they’d fly away like dandelion seeds in the wind, uncatchable, irreclaimable…unremarkable. I wanted to make them count.

And so I got a mental paper and pen and got ready to write. The first draft looked a lot like most of the “bucket lists” I’ve looked at online – things I wanted to see or experience before I ran out of time. In this case it was my week-long vacation time, but the same principle applies to our individual summertimes, and especially to our lifetimes. The emphasis was heavy on the word my. My wish list, for my life and my time.

Suddenly it occurred to me that I could take those seven days and donate them, that I could plan each day around doing something for somebody else instead of concentrating only on what I wanted to do myself. Of course, college students have been doing exactly that for years, spending their spring breaks on mission trips or building houses for homeless people. Without having seen the movie The Bucket List myself, I read a synopsis of the plot and learned that two terminally ill men who started off as complete strangers ended up as friends who helped each other cross items off their lists. Even the popular TV show The Buried Life about a group of friends on a mission to accomplish items on their bucket lists includes a segment each week of how they helped a complete stranger realize a particular dream of his own.

Suddenly I understood why God has been nudging my heart about this topic of late. It’s because my life is not my own anymore. It belongs to Him. And so perhaps my determination to make my time on this earth count for something should lead me straight to His “bucket list”, the purposes and plans He has for the people He loves, while there’s still time to accomplish them.

All this talk about buckets got me to thinking of one in particular I’ve seen at the entrance to the lodge at Hueston Woods State Park. It hangs under a faucet that delivers a slow yet steady stream of water, gradually filling until the weight of the water inside tips it over and dumps the contents into a basin below. Then the empty bucket swings back into an upright position and the running water starts to fill it once more. The process repeats itself over and over again.

I smile at the thought that maybe God’s “list” has just one item on it! Perhaps His sole desire is that before we “kick the bucket“, as the saying goes, we position our own in such a way that our lives become so filled with His goodness that they can’t help but spill it all out on the people around us, over and over again.

“…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If a man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’” (John 7:37-38 NIV)

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