CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Before You Kick the Bucket

Aug 27, 2008

There was an interesting item in today’s papers. It seems that the author of an adventure travel guide, Dave Freeman, passed away recently, aged 47. Co-authored by Neil Teplica, the best-selling book, 100 Things to Do Before You Die, began with these words: “This life is a short journey. How can you make sure you fill it with the most fun and that you visit all the coolest places on Earth before you pack those bags for the very last time?”

Suggestions included nude night surfing in Australia, running with bulls in Pamplona, Spain, and taking a voodoo pilgrimage in Haiti. Amazingly however, it seems that his death was not the result of some wild adventure in some exotic country. He evidently simply slipped and fell in his own home. And he only had managed to visit half of the places he had recommended in the 1999 book.

The book was the inspiration for a recent hit Hollywood movie: The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. In the film the actors play two elderly dying men who decide to make a list of all the things they would like to do before they kick the bucket. Unlike Dave Freeman, they manage to get through their lists.

There is a certain irony and sadness in Dave Freeman’s death of course. Teplica said “It’s very odd, very sad and very freaky”. Yes, it is all that, and more. Indeed, the most important thing that anyone can have on their bucket list may not have been achieved by Freeman. I do not know if he was a Christian or not, but the most important thing we can achieve in this life is to get right with God.

That should be the number one thing on any person’s list, young or old. Making sure that we are reconciled to God by accepting his Son’s atoning sacrifice for us is the most important thing we can do in life. While going to faraway lands and experiencing extreme adventures can have their thrills, there is only one thing that really matters.

The Bible speaks much to this truth. Indeed, it warns us of the shortness of life, and the need to be prepared for the next life. We are warned in Hebrews 9:27 that there is only one life, and after that, we all must face divine judgment. The question is, are we ready to meet our creator? Indeed, will we meet him as our redeemer, or only as our judge?

Jesus often spoke of the need to be ready. Consider the Parable of the Rich Fool as found in Luke 12:13-21:

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Freeman said that “life is a short journey”. He got that right. But simply trying to fill a short life with as many thrills and spills as possible is not really going to cut it. Not only do all the earthly pursuits we engage in not really satisfy, but they are a poor substitute for the fullness of life promised by Jesus: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Millions of Christians can testify to the fulfilment, joy and satisfaction of a love relationship with God through Christ. And the good news about this joy is that it does not end with death. Indeed, death is just the beginning of a whole new eternal relationship with a loving Father.

One may not get to travel anywhere in this life. Indeed, most poor people are pretty much confined to one spot: they will be born, live, and die all in the same place. The rich and famous can jet set around the globe, and visit all sorts of exotic locations and do all sorts of exotic adventures.

But the most amazing adventure of all is to be reunited with our creator God, and enjoy an eternal love relationship with him. That, as I say, should be at the top of everyone’s bucket list.

ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iat4_nUlmGO9ePi_MUZF-VLiyxgAD92PV9D80

[852 words]

7 Responses to Before You Kick the Bucket

  • Sounds like the book of Ecclesiastes, Bill!
    Jeremy Peet

  • Very good, Bill. It is the most important thing.
    Tas Walker

  • Nice post. Comes at a relevant time in my life. I’m on living in my 4th country right now and am realizing at 25 that I really just want to settle down in the “motherland” and not move anywhere. It is really tiring and you realize that things are pretty much the same everywhere, a city is a city. They’re just different flavors…like chocolate & vanilla ice cream.

    We can “work the spirit” locally. I’m always worried about those far off people who’ve yet to know Christ…perhaps when I retire I can go to them.

    Hrvoj Moric, Geneva (currently)

  • We should always be careful what we say. It is amazing how many people have died after making some (usually) inappropriate statement. Someone sent me a list once of people who had scoffed at Christ. And Justice Murphy died after pushing the No Fault Divorce law through Parliament.
    Tom Wise

  • Though perhaps not written the easiest of language Pascal describes the state of so many of us who whilst under the pressure of striving to maintain a standard of living, paint the house, run the kids to swimming lessons and keep our spouses happy, look forward to retirement when we can rest and be still. But no sooner do we arrive there, than we are frantically globe trotting, or taking up this or that new activity. Often times they say (with pride) that they have never been so busy: http://www.geocities.com/seapadre_1999/pascal-diversion.html

    What people are searching for is distraction. There is the story of a city which during the dying years of the Roman Empire was threatened by Barbarians who were headed their way. Rape, pillage and massacre were certainly on the agenda. However at the last moment the marauding hoard headed off in another direction. The city was dejected because, at the end of the Roman era, any distraction would have broken the boredom that life had become.

    David Skinner, UK

  • I, like so many (e.g. the preacher in Ecclesiastes) tried wine women and song (and motorcycles) before I met the Son of the Living God in far north Qld. There is NO THRILL like serving Him who made you, and I have been a thrill-seeker for many years of my 59-year life. In Him we really live, because in Him is abundant life. He is Wonderful.
    Ian Brearley

  • Good one Bill. These thoughful pieces certainly do contrast and helpfully complement the energetic and passionate articles on the wide range of important social issues (most of which will not be resolved to our satisfaction in our lifetimes).

    No wonder the Scripture says: ‘Be still and know that I am God’. Those who believe in the Sovereign reign of an active God, need to live consistently with that belief.

    Trevor Faggotter

Leave a Reply