The Gospel Race (or Kick the Bucket List)


Photo by Jon Pallbo.  Public domain.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. – 1 Corinthians 9:24 (ESV)

I like the idea of a bucket list.  You know, a list of things you want to accomplish on this earth while you’re still here.  Maybe you’ve seen the movie of the same name.  (If so, you understand why I will ever accept a cup of coffee from Jack Nicholson.)

I have a lot of things I’d like to do and places I’d dig visiting.  I’d like to learn painting from Peter Max.  Go to Iceland and Ireland.  Write a book that helps millions of people overcome life’s struggles and find peace through Jesus.  Meet some of the great writers and artists and musicians and find out what really makes them tick (creatively, that is).  Maybe take a class at the U on Norwegian egg slicing.

Most of all, I would love to have all the people I love, gathered together in one big room or park (weather permitting), and they would all get to know one another and love each other and be happy together.  I, of course, would DJ the event (and no one would complain about my odd musical selections).  We would talk about God and the wonderful things He is doing in our lives… That would be the top of my list.

I realize many of the items on my list are doable.  Or at least plausible.  

Except perhaps the egg slicing class.  I hear it fills up fast.

But, really, a bucket list is nothing more than a collection of self indulgent wants (if what we wish to do isn’t for the right reasons).  Paul exhorts us to focus our lives on running the Gospel Race.  Seeking Christ at all times, in all things.  Following His lead, not a wanna-do playlist.  

Running the Gospel Race isn’t easy.  There are potholes in the road.  Distracting billboards advertising every earthly pleasure known to man.  Wrecks ahead. Trees in the road.  Times when we nearly run out of fuel.  Flat tires, spent water pumps, broken serpentine belts, road kill, empty windshield washer fluid tanks…

But running the Gospel Race is worth every difficult mile.  The reason is that this race is run with Love, and Grace, and Mercy.  We are blessed by being a blessing in the name of Christ.  When we race long and far enough, we look in the rear view mirror and see Jesus with us every mile of the trip.  

And we realize that God never leaves us, never abandons us.

And our faith is strengthened.

And our hearts fill beyond capacity with joy.

And we realize no bucket list could ever be better than the great and wondrous gift of knowing the Lord.

We all have dreams.  And there is absolutely nothing wrong with pursuing right desires.  But everything we do – everything – has to be pursued in the light of following Jesus and running our Gospel Race first and foremost.

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. 6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. -Psalm 37:3-6, ESV

Now that’s something to put on a bucket list!


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