For years I have kept a mental bucket list:
- Run a marathon. Check. (Although technically I walked a part of it and cried like a little girl.)
- Write and publish a book. Check. My first book 364 Days of Thanksgiving will hit stores this fall (shameless plug).
- Jump out of an airplane. My wife says I can do that after I turn 80 (only 39 more years to wait!).
I have a few other items on my bucket list, both big and small, which I would like to do before I die.
What is on your bucket list? What do you want to do before you die?
Simeon had one item on his bucket list. He was waiting for the “consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). God had promised he would see the Messiah, the coming Savior, before he died.
When baby Jesus was just a little over a month old, his parents took him to the temple. Moved by the Holy Spirit, Simeon also went for a walk in the temple courts. When he saw Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus, he took the child in his arms and said, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).
In other words, Simeon was saying, “I can die in peace right now because I have seen my Savior.” Simeon may have had other things he wanted to do here on earth, but none of them really mattered. If God wanted to take him that day, that very moment, that was just fine with Simeon.
What a contrast to how many in our world today look at death! As he watched his father slowly die, the poet Dylan Thomas wrote: “Do not go gentle into that good night … rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Few people want to die. That want to live long lives. They want to do many things before they die. So they fight and rage and run away from death.
Many years ago, I sat in my eighth grade Confirmation class. My pastor (who coincidentally was also my father) asked us: “What would you like to do before you die?”
The class gave a number of answers: “Get my driver’s license.” “Have my first kiss.” “Get married.”
I’ll never forget what my father said next. “All those things are good,” he told us, “but none compare with how great heaven will be.”
Your first kiss, getting married, jumping out of an airplane – none come close to the glory and happiness and fun of heaven.
Like Simeon, our eyes have seen our salvation. Our God has allowed us to see our Savior Jesus through his Word. Through that same Word, he gives us glimpses of the glory of heaven. Seeing that – knowing that – helps us say with Simeon, “I can die in peace right now.”
Is it wrong to have a bucket list? No. Is it wrong to want to live more years here on earth? Of course not. But we do so understanding we don’t control when we will die. We do so trusting that heaven is far better than anything we could ever experience here on earth.
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).