They had worked hard for years and deserved the fruits of their labors. What next delightful adventure could they check off?

It was the Saturday for me to attend a promo for a Christian travel agency. The room was packed with well-dressed people; there was standing room only. Cookies and coffee free for the taking were stacked on the long table in the back of the room. Oohs and aahs were heard from the audience as they viewed the promotional videos on the wide screens facing them.  Marianne gave a yelp of delight when she noticed a picture of herself on her trip to Montreal. Tom smiled as he appeared in the group posing on a glacier. 

Many had traveled together before, comfortable that they were making their journeys in a Christian environment. Excitement buzzed through the crowd.  All those new possibilities the crowd could add to their “bucket lists”.  Afterall, they had worked hard for years and deserved the fruits of their labors. What next delightful adventure could they check off?


Unlike my Saturday experience, the Bible notes in John 13:1-7 an event in which no promotional videos are playing on the walls. Only Jesus and 12 men occupy the room.  Unbeknownst to the disciples, it is only hours before the betrayal, trial and execution of Christ.  Quite a few of the guys engage in a dispute over which of them is Jesus’ greatest follower. They want to be the GOAT (“Greatest Of All Time”). Judas remains off to the side, burning with disappointment in the rabbi Who had no plans to free the country of Roman oppression.


In the midst of the noise is Jesus. He knows what is to come, yet decides to show the disciples His personal “bucket list”: to demonstrate the full extent of His love. No exotic vacation for Jesus. No sitting by the pool. Just torture, blood and agony. He has worked three long hard years for this moment.


The day of the supper with Jesus was long, exhausting and dirty. When the group piled through the door of the meeting room, none of the disciples volunteered to help their friends clean up from their travels. Halfway through the meal, the Master stuns them. He stands and quietly fills a basin with water, removes his outer garment, ties a towel around His waist, and kneels in front of the first disciple.  Jesus smiles at the ones He loves dearly and begins to wash their feet, one by one. This is the Savior’s bucket list, to show them the full extent of His love. His love is the definition of complete humility: living the role of a servant and acceptance of execution as a criminal.


As He washes their feet, His words whisper in the disciples’ minds: By this all men (and women) will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. What does such showing the full extent of His love mean? Craig Groeschel comments: “We have to be willing to do what may seem insignificant, what isn’t often visible to others. What you do may feel like it’s behind the scenes, but getting promoted in the kingdom of God is never by self-promotion, it’s always by serving. It’s not about what we do; it’s about who we are.” Another great observation by Dr. Keith Wagner: “You can wash the feet of anyone, but when you fail to love them, you might as well have walked with them through a car wash.”


All those people packed into the room with me on that Saturday afternoon had one thing in common, death eventually enters the picture. The question is, am I packing in my bucket list what matches up to Christ’s plans for me, regardless of how many days I have left on earth? Having loved His own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.”  How am I, and how are you, living out the full extent of His love? What’s on your bucket list?


God stuck around for the hard work, of loving the unlovable and redeeming the unredeemable.

Age sixteen, a passenger on a train to nowhere. I immersed myself studying the philosophy of existentialism; concerned with finding self and the meaning of life through free will, choice, and personal responsibility. Quickly, I arrived at an end of myself.  It was all meaningless. Despite having been a believer for about 3 years, I knew few genuine Christians.  Our family’s church was Presbyterian: “God’s Frozen People”.  A popular song of the day was entitled, “Is That All There Is?” Caught in the throes of teenage angst, I pondered those lyrics.


God stepped in.  A pastor invited me to go to a Missions Conference in western PA.  I don’t know why he extended the invitation.  Possibly out of the crowd of disinterested teens in our congregation, he saw in me a glimmer of hope.  For whatever reason, I packed my bags to travel to an event where I knew absolutely no one.


Among a crowd of strangers, I do not remember any of the week’s speakers, musicians, or activities, except for one afternoon.  That message carried an arrow which shattered my cold heart. For years, I had been positive no one loved me; there was no purpose to my existence.  God spoke in the midst of my brokenness.  The first time in my life, I finally understood that with all my failings, God loved me desperately just as I was.  I already understood that Jesus died for my sins, but I had never comprehended the depth of my salvation. 


Christ didn’t save me and then go on His merry way, wishing me a cheery, “Good luck!” over His shoulder. Jesus redeemed me “to bestow on me a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:3)


God stuck around for the hard work, of loving the unlovable and redeeming the unredeemable. I was His beloved daughter who would always be loved by her Heavenly Father. Of no consequence was my job performance and talents (or lack thereof).


Tears ran down my face. Pure joy and wonder now entered the equation. “When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place, what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?”  (Psalm 8:3-6) I knelt in awe, having realized I was not alone and life was not meaningless. My life finally had a destination as I discovered true eternity with Jesus Christ.