In The Bucket List Carter Chambers (played by Morgan Freeman), an auto mechanic for forty-six years, finds an old assignment from his college philosophy class in which he had listed places he’d like to go and things he’d like to do in his lifetime.
But the responsibility of raising a family meant making sacrifices and working long hours to make ends meet. His idealistic list of lifetime goals has become a discouraging inventory of missed opportunities and broken dreams. Now Carter is in a cancer treatment center, expecting to live only another six to twelve months. There he meets Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson), a gruff and greedy billionaire CEO of a health care company, who, in his relentless pursuit of money, has managed to completely alienate himself from his friends and family.
The two men share a room in a cramped medical facility owned by Mr. Cole’s company and both face the same terminal prognosis. Their lives change one day when Edward gets a look at Carter’s goal list. He suggests that the two might augment the list and begin crossing off items. Against doctor’s orders, and financed by Edward’s fortune, the two leave the hospital and embark on a worldwide adventure to satisfy their “bucket list”—the list of things they’d like to accomplish before they “kick the bucket.”
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Fortunately the Bible has plenty to say about making the most of the limited time that we have on earth. When Jesus explains to his disciples that he is the “good shepherd” who will give his life for his sheep, he famously says, “I came that [my
sheep]may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b). Jesus’idea of living an abundant life is much different than that of the characters in The Bucket List.
For Christians, an abundant life doesn’t necessarily involve jumping out of airplanes or racing stock cars. But Jesus would agree with Carter and Edward that we don’t want to look back on a life of regret and emptiness. Jesus teaches us about living lives of integrity, having a forgiving spirit, and cultivating deep and meaningful relationships with one another. These practices are keys to abundant living.
Scripture also reminds us that we should not waste our time on earth. God has called each of us to use this time to further the work of God’s kingdom by sharing our faith and becoming expressions of God’s love. But while our earthly lives are
important, we should remember that even the longest life lived on earth is extremely minute in the context of eternity. Jesus has gone ahead to prepare an eternal home for us in heaven. Until he takes us there, we should use the blessing of life on our temporary home wisely.
Here are 3 stories from the scriptures:
A Really Big Bucket: John 10:1-10
Maximizing Opportunities: Colossians 4:5-6
Temporary Home: John 14:1-7
Two Questions to Ponder
- what are steps we can take to realize the abundant life that Jesus desires for us?
- how might we need to change our priorities?