I have a bucket list. Everyone has one, I think. What we want to do before we die. When I was younger, my bucket list included the following: be stinking, filthy rich, have a monstrously large palacial estate, travel the world, and have property in all of those places I like. There was also this thought that I would be reaching down to help the needy and homeless, and be known as a philanthropist, recognized worldwide. That last thought was so that God, looking down on creation, could easily pick me out as one of His favorites and prosper me all the more. I did intend to become a man of great wealth through the Ohio lottery, not from hard work, there wasn't time for that.
Everything I hoped for in these visions of grandeur, was for me to be fulfilled and completely satisfied with wealth. Me. The universe had yours truly at dead center, and you all would know me as a wonderful person that deserved everything he had. Reality, I wouldn't have lasted 5 years. I would have wasted every bit of those winnings on things...like the majority of lotto winners. If you didn't know this I'll tell you, it didn't work out. I missed my "ME" goals. It was all about me.
After living the prodigal life for many years, God, for reasons I don't fully understand, brought me out of that insanity. Living for my pleasure had zero rewards, but had become rich with remorse. In time realized that happiness could never be found by anything this world affords. Houses, lands, untold wealth and fame, all are the deceptions I had been geared to think would bring me happiness. Fully resigned to forget wealth and the aquisition of things, I asked God to let me live life in service to Him by serving others, especially others with addictions. He graciously has met that request, and my understanding of joy and success in life has dramatically changed. No thought I had about fulfillment was correct, my bucket list was useless.
Jesus really messed things up for the religious crowd. He made these outrageous claims that the greatest would be the servant. He brought these ideas that were off-the-chart weird to the wealthy, but struck a chord in the hearts of the poor and simple by saying to give all and find everything. If I am to follow Him, I had to give up this notion that anything, other than He, could satisfy.
"...whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever
desires to be first among you, let him be your slave- just as the Son of Man did not come
to be served, but to serve, and give His life a ransome for many." Matt.20:26-28 (NKJV)
So back to the bucket list. I have, but no means have attained perfection, and now have no desire for achievement, notoriety, or to live as a pauper. But I have changed that list of to-dos to becoming willing to give up all to attain Christ, and help where needed. The list is no longer grasping for the tangibles in life and getting. Now the list is becoming and reaching for the intangible and eternal by giving away my life to service. What I feel really matters, is that I strive to become what God intended by giving of myself, not doing for myself, not caring how people see me. The bucket of "gold" isn't at the end of the rainbow, it's at the end of life. Did I do all I could, for all I could, for as long as I could?
I hope you take this message for what it's worth. I used myself as an example, not trying to be bragadocious by any means. I paid a very high price to learn what brings purpose and fulfillment. But this story is not mine alone, but also belongs to the multitudes I have met on life's journey. Their impressions have left a sign for me to see along the path. I just attempt to return the favor.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith