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.

Things to Remember: Asssembling

Dear followers,

The following is the January 2020 newsletter from Rachel Himes, Director of the We Care Pregnancy Clinic in Punxsutawney. I was so moved by what she wrote that I asked, and received, permission to post it here. May you be blessed as I was by the words the Holy Spirit gave her.

“…Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another…” – Hebrews 10:25 KJV

Friends,

I want to touch on practical ways and reasons why we need to “remember our God.”

I have been a follower of Christ for more than twenty-five years of my adult life. I do not take His Word lightly. But I have seen more and more apathy towards the things of God in this past decade than ever in my lifetime. We officially live in a generation who draws a greater portion of their doctrine and understanding of God from modern culture more than from Scripture. I want to remind us why we should “not forsake the assembling …”

We are commanded to. Plain and simple. And quite frankly, that should be enough.

It sharpens us. I have had my understanding of Scripture challenged and grown more by conversations in a Sunday school classroom than any teaching I’ve studied. I’m more of an introvert by nature, but I don’t use it as an excuse to avoid community. In fact, the historical account of every great move of God recorded happened in an assembly.

It reminds us we are not alone. The testimony of those around us is powerful. In fact, Revelation says we will overcome by two things: The blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. They are both powerful and both necessary.

The slow fade: An ember removed from the fire gradually loses its burn. Returning it to the fire will reignite it. And all of the embers together burn the brightest.

Sunday morning service is a commitment for me. No excuses.

But the enemy gives us reasons why we should not. Maybe he’s thrown some your way:

I’ve outgrown the church. Really? When babies grow up, they become adults. And their God-given job is to help raise the next babies into adults. Try teaching or serving.

 Hypocrites. Yep. They exist. Did in Jesus’ day and now. Don’t be one.

 I am spiritually strong and don’t need community. Like the head doesn’t need a hand? Because Scripture is very plain about the church being a body and that it should work together.

Sunday is the only day I can sleep in. I get it. Change your schedule. Because whatever in your life is more important than obeying God has taken a place above Him.

What does this have to do with me? you may ask. Everything. Maybe you go to church. Maybe you are in a small group. If you are, wonderful. I commend you.

But if you have pulled away for any reason at all, know the enemy is already using that to hurt the body of Christ, both by what you lose and by what you have to give. And don’t just go there, show up. Give. Serve. Participate. Scripture says we will reap when we sow. If you sow nothing, don’t expect to get a return.

I have heard many people say the modern, American church isn’t what Jesus intended. OK … but? If you read the letters Paul had to write to the early churches, you’ll see they weren’t either. But he urged the believers to keep pressing in and pressing on. He cited the great works God was doing in their midst.

If you think a church has to be perfect for God to move there, you’ve forgotten how utterly dependent we are on His grace to begin with. And frankly, if you’ve left the church over offenses by pastors or congregation members, or because of disagreements, you have allowed the enemy to draw a dividing line at your feet.

We weren’t promised it would feel good. We weren’t promised it would be easy. We weren’t promised we’d like all the people in our “family.” But we were told to stay diligent, stay alert, and stay committed. And if you’re not getting anything at all from it, I urge you to check your heart condition. Because God is always in the midst of His people. His Word says so. But just as a radio wave is present at all times in the air, one must be tuned to the station to hear it.

Friends, tune in. Shake the dust from your feet. If you believe we are living in the last days, there is work to be done. Be alert.

–Rachel Himes, Director,We Care Pregnancy Clinic, Punxsutawney

EXCITING UPDATES:

We are more than half way through our training scans. Please pray with us that we can finish this course and open sonograms to the public this spring. (MTH note: Technicians are being trained to use the donated sonogram machine so that those who come to the clinic will be able to see a sonogram of their baby. Statistics show those who have seen sonograms of their unborn babies opt to give birth and not have an abortion.)

Our banquet is officially set for Friday, May 8 of this year, Mother’s Day weekend. Please mark your calendar now. It will be exciting.

© 2020 Rachel Himes. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

For more information about We Care Pregnancy Center, click here.