Pursuing Life…

My daughter has a pretty stout vocabulary.  Sometimes in her attempt to say words and phrases beyond her years, she mixes phrases.  One of my favorites is “hit the bucket.”  Somewhere she heard the phrase “kick the bucket” referring to death, and was fascinated, but somehow cannot seem to get the phrase quite right.  I keep thinking somewhere in that confused phrase is some subtle, profound view of death.  After reading an article today, I believe I’ve found the meaning of the phrase.

Dave Freeman, the co-author of “100 Things to Do Before You Die,” a travel guide and ode to odd adventures that inspired readers and imitators, died at 47 last week.  He fell down some steps at his home in Venice and hit his head.

“This life is a short journey,” the book says. “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?”

Now, I think there is a redeeming truth in both the story and the book.  To realize your own mortality and pursue every day knowing that you will not be here forever is a good thing to know.  I think, in a sense, that every person should take the greatest pleasure in every moment.

The difference, however, between a true believer and a secular hedonist, would be the object of pleasure.  Man, by nature, will seek pleasure for himself and his “100 things” will look radically different than the follower of Jesus Christ.  Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books.  Here’s what Solomon states in Ecclesiastes 3:9-15 (ESV):

What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.

The key, for me, is found beginning in verse 14.  God’s work, including His work through men, is eternal and unchangeable.  God’s done these things so that people would fear (revere) Him.  Solomon was given a great gift in wisdom.  In his own words, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight,” (Prov.9:10).  

Therefore, our pursuit should be one of pleasure, but distinct pleasure in the eternal work and knowledge of our God, fearing Him expressed in worship and awe.  So, our “100 things” should be more eternal in nature.  

  • What are those things that you could do on a daily basis (especially in the mundane task of work) that would give you pleasure in the Lord to the degree that if you died sitting in your cubicle (perhaps a freak pencil sharpening accident!!!) you would know that God was glorified?
  • What are those things that you should do at home (on a daily basis) that will produce God-glorifying results in your spouse and children, so that if you were to fall down the stairs and hit your head, you’d take pleasure in all that God has done?  (Besides, no one lying on their death bed regrets not having spent MORE time at the office, getting MORE bonuses…they usually regret time lost)
You would be wise to think of your own life in such a way that you would suck the very life out of every day, taking great pleasure even in your toil because in it you can live out God’s eternal purposes.  You just don’t know when you’ll die.  Some do fade after a long life, and sometimes a long battle with an illness.  Some, like Freeman, don’t see it coming and they very suddenly “hit the bucket!”

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