The Bucket List


A friend sent these words by Steve Bezner to me, and I must say, they were enough to stop me in my tracks.

“Sometimes I joke about what I’d do if I had one day left to live. Eat junk, go crazy, etc. Today it hit me: Jesus knew. And He washed feet.”

Do you get the power in this message? He washed feet. On the last night before His resurrection, Jesus washed the feet of those He loved.

I am reminded of my bucket list—the one that sits on my phone and takes up space in some old journal sitting beside my bed. There on that list are the things I would like to do before this world passes away and I look to Heaven.

But washing feet is not on that list. Perhaps it should be.

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end… Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” –John 13:1-5

There are people you will meet in life who touch your heart and set an example that is in the likeness of Christ. For me, I was beyond blessed to be a granddaughter of such a woman. Her example reflected Christ.

It’s taken me a while since October of last year to process through the grief that she is no longer here. And missing her is an odd thing that can come up at the most unexpected moments.

Her favorite sound was the crashing of waves on the seashore. You can be certain that I will never be able to go to the beach without thinking of her. And anytime I see a whale, whether it is on a video or a nature show, I will think of her exclaiming, “Oh! Oh!” like she did when we saw one off the shores of what turned out to be our last family beach trip with her. Just the other day my eyes welled up upon seeing the hands of an elderly woman, her manicured nails, and jingling bracelets reminding me so much of Oma’s hands.

It was Oma, along with my grandfather, who instilled a love of Christ in their home, and she reflected this picture of Him so perfectly during her final days. The cancer came on fast, unexpected, but she simply wished to spend time with her loved ones. We gathered together—all six of her children and their families, friends and relatives, all packed into the small, galley-kitchen house where my dad grew up. And it was there that Oma showed me what it means to simply love Christ.

During that last visit, she didn’t take the spotlight, she remained a servant—at times cooking for her family, playing with her great-grandchildren, attending and serving at her church, and sharing time with all of us. It was her pleasure to delight in others, but it was more than that.

My Oma had one of the best laughs you could ever hear. One of those that was so contagious. Her eyes would get all squinty, tears trickling past her glasses, shoulders shaking—often times she tried to talk through the laughter but never could—and none of us could understand her. Oh, how I miss that.

But you see a piece of her is still with my dad’s family when we get together. It’s the laughter. The listening. Oma was a great listener.

I remember on what turned out to be the last day I would see her, we were in the old living room swapping stories. Most of which ended in laughter, some I had heard many times, but there Oma sat, a smile on her face, laughter in her eyes and joy in her heart. She was at peace around those she loved, simply delighting in them.

Jesus chose to spend His final night before His resurrection with His disciples—those closest to Him. He took the time to show them how much they were loved. He set before them an example of what it means to be a servant and friend.

Verse 1 of John 13 says, “Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”

What an example of value to those who are loved. My Oma reflected this. She knew her hour was coming, that the cancer would end her life, but with a strength that still amazes me, she spent her last days in love. Loving her husband, her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren, her friends, those she had served alongside and her church. All of her final days were immersed in love.

My Oma had the kind of joy in life that came from a heart set on the things not of this world. Christ’s love was reflected through her in grace. She was a woman at peace and offered that peace to others freely. Simply by the number of people at her memorial, you could tell she loved others well.

Now, what would you do if you only had one day left to live?

Suddenly my bucket list seems all too small—too shallow and hollow. Sure it would be fun to jump from a plane, see Greece or perhaps visit the Palace of Versailles again, but all of that fades away in comparison to the end of all things, doesn’t it? In light of what really lasts, everything burns away and what’s left are the very things that Christ showed us.

The things that last.

Faith. Hope. And Love. Say it with me, “but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor.13: 13)

God is love. Christ is love. The Spirit is love.

Perhaps now, the bucket list for the rest of my life should be to reflect 1 Corinthians 16:14, “Let all that you do be done in love.”

So taking it one day at a time, my job here is to love as Christ loved. To reflect Him as my Oma did, and one day I’ll see her again. Oh, what a glorious day that will be!