My Bucket List

Image by Renee Gaudet from Pixabay

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

One year I decided to compile a bucket list.

On it I put hiking, kayaking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, horseback riding in the Colorado Rockies, spending a month in Alaska and visiting the Canadian Rockies. Perhaps I should add “getting and staying in shape.”

I was hesitant at first to list anything. Unlike the two characters in the movie, I don’t have a billionaire to fund the fulfillment of the list of things I want to do before I kick the bucket. So phrases such as “we can’t afford it” and “be realistic” kept popping up.

We humans can come up with all kinds of reasons our deepest desires and wildest dreams won’t or can’t be fulfilled. So we plod on, not allowing ourselves to hope or dream because we don’t want to deal with disappointment. Or we make a bucket list of “safe” things—those that don’t border on impossible.

I had to push the hope-sucking words out of my mind with another phrase: “If money were no object …” and set my mind free to dream.

When I got brave enough to write my dreams down, I began to see the possibilities—how they can be fulfilled. I began to hope and dream again like I did when I was much younger.

What is life without dreams? Without hope?

In 626 B.C. God’s people thought they were without hope, too. Sent into exile for persistent willful disobedience, they were given these words: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

The next 70 years weren’t going to be pretty. Babylon would be a far cry from the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey God had helped their ancestors to conquer. But don’t give up hope, He told them.

Hope—what we need to get us through our Babylon times, what we need to get us through life even when it isn’t tough.

There may be those who say this verse isn’t for us today—that it was meant only for God’s people at that time. There may be those who say this verse has been so overused, it’s become cliché.

But these 29 words say so much—and I believe they are for us today, too, for “the grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

 “For I know the plans I have for you” —God has a plan for your life, a purpose for you.

“…to prosper you and not to harm you.”— Although life includes pain, God’s purpose is not to harm but to help you to grow. God’s plan for you is good.

“…to give you hope.” Life without hope is like soda without the fizz, like a long, dark night with no sign of morning. Hope comes from God, so ask Him for it.

“…to give you…a future.” God has a future planned for you, but He reveals it one day—one moment—one step—at a time.

Plans, hope, a future—Isn’t that what a bucket list is all about? It gives us hope that someday our dreams may come true.

So go ahead—let yourself dream again. Make up your bucket list. Then give it to God and watch your hope begin to grow.

Teach me to dream again, Lord. I’ve forgotten how. Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 139.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

The Road to Nowhere

The tunnel on The Road to Nowhere, Swain County, NC

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28 NIV

Eighty years ago private landowners in Swain County, NC, were forced to give up their property, which had been in their families for generations, when the government created the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Entire communities had to relocate. Access to ancestral burial grounds was lost when the Fontana Dam was built and the route was submerged beneath the waters of a vast manmade lake.

To appease the people, the government promised to build a road through the park that would give them access to the ancient cemeteries. And so construction on Lakeview Drive began—and halted six miles into the park when environmental issues arose. The promised road ended with a tunnel and has remained that way to this day.

Although eventually the environmental issues were resolved and the feds paid the county $52 million in lieu of finishing the road, the locals, feeling betrayed, renamed Lakeview Drive to “The Road to Nowhere.” A sign was erected: “Welcome to The Road to Nowhere. A Broken Promise. 1943 – ?”

We visited The Road to Nowhere several years ago during our camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and we walked through the dank, dark tunnel. True, the paved road ended when we emerged on the other side, but I wouldn’t call it “nowhere.” Golden trees framed hiking trails that wound through the mountains. True, this wasn’t what was promised, but it is what it is.

Life can be like that. Sometimes the road we’re on doesn’t lead us to where we expect or where we want to go. Sometimes we run into a dead end. Broken promises break our hearts and our trust. We can’t see how we can go on.

But it doesn’t lead to nowhere. All roads lead to somewhere. Just sometimes not where we’d chosen.

The older I get, the more I understand the wisdom of accepting and adapting. And moving on.

I’m not saying it’s easy—giving up those dreams, rebuilding your life after hope has been shattered.

But it can be done—with guts, gumption, grit—and God.

You see, I believe in a God who can transform what’s bad in your life into something good, what’s broken into something usable. A God who can turn your weakness into His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9) and loves you far beyond what you can comprehend (Romans 8:35–39).

He’s always in your corner (Romans 8:31) and wants to bless you exceedingly abundantly above all you can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). He’s a faithful Father who showers you with fresh mercies every morning (Lamentations 3:23) and who doesn’t break promises (2 Timothy 2:13).

So, dear child of God, “do not fear. Do not let not your hands grow weak. The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives great victory. He will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on the day of a festival” (Zephaniah 3:16–17)

Remember that it’s God who’s in control, no matter what road you find yourself on.

Remind me, Lord, as I walk this uncertain road called life, that every road I walk with You will lead to somewhere wonderful. Amen.

The Road to Nowhere, Swain County, NC

Read and reflect on Lamentations 3:19–26

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.