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.

Now, THAT’s a Plan!

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established. – Proverbs 19:21 (RSV)

Now that I’m somewhere between “middle-aged” and “over the hill” (closer to over-the-hill than middle-aged), I look back on my life and view the unexpected—the things that interfered with my plans—quite differently than I did at the time they happened.

My father’s layoff from the steel mill when I was nine led to tough times that taught me resourcefulness and thrift. The broken engagement that shattered my heart when I was 20 freed me for when Mr. Right entered the picture a few months later. (We’ll celebrate our forty-seventh on Dec. 22.) An unexpected pregnancy with child number three altered our dreams for the future.

No, my life certainly has not gone the way I played it in my head when I was growing up. I’d dreamed of traveling the world, free as a bird, but the road I traveled was one of diapers, doctors’ appointments, piano and dance lessons, sporting events, school programs, occasional teaching gigs to help make ends meet, and endless dust, dishes, meals, laundry, forms to complete, and papers that needed my signature.

The road was neither well-paved nor well-marked. There were no signs warning me of a “rough road ahead,” “construction: expect delays,” or that I’d soon be encountering fog, blowing snow, ice, or severe crosswinds.

In the words of Louisa May Alcott in her classic Little Women, “My castle is very different from what I planned, but I would not alter it.” 

Although “into each life some rain must fall; some days must be dark and sad and dreary,” she adds in the closing words of her character, Jo, “I’m far happier than I deserve. … Fritz is getting gray and stout. I’m growing as thin as a shadow, and am thirty. We never shall be rich, and Plumfield may burn up any night, for that incorrigible Tommy Bangs will smoke sweet-fern cigars under the bed-clothes, though he’s set himself afire three times already. But in spite of these unromantic facts, I have nothing to complain of, and never was so jolly in my life.”

I echo her words: “I’m far happier than I deserve. My husband is getting grayer by the day, and I am growing stouter as I edge closer to 70. We’ll never be rich, and everything we’ve spent our lives building can be lost in the blink of an eye. Obnoxious people will plague our paths, anyone can sue us at anytime over anything, and the economy will continue to be as stable as a sputtering firecracker.

But in spite of these unromantic facts, I have nothing, really, to complain about. I have my hubby, wearing out though he may be. I have my three grown children, their loved ones, and nine grandchildren who fill my life with love and joy. And I am truly happy and at peace.

And, most important, I have God, the One who is control of all things at all times (1 Chronicles 29:10–12). His Word is the only road sign I need (Psalm 119:105). For I’ve experienced the truth of Romans 8:28. I’ve conquered fear with Romans 8:31–39. I’ve faced my own inadequacy and seen His adequacy in Isaiah 55:8–9.

And I’ve vanquished insecurity with Jeremiah 29:11, “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 a hope and a future.”

Now, that’s a plan!   

As I light the third Advent candle, Father, I am reminded that Your Son came to give me a hope and a future. Help me daily to recognize and yield to Your awesome plan for me. Amen.

Read and reflect on Matthew 1:18–25; Luke 1:26–2:20.

© 2008 by Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.