Pastor Joe Miller
Bucket list: the experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during a lifetime.
When I was younger, I had a bucket list: have a wife, children, buy property, build a house, start and run my own business...among many other things. These were the main goals. Now that I'm nearing the end of my run, I can sit back and say I've done what I wanted to do and seen what I've wanted to see. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not the big goals but the little everyday things that bring the greatest joys in life: sitting on the porch with friends, watching the sun setting or watching Gunsmoke with my wife, fishing with my kids, playing with my grandkids. Or one of my favorite everyday activities is just sitting down and enjoying a meal.
Food is a gift from God, and I’m thankful for that. The taste and varieties of food keep me from ever getting bored, and I'm always looking forward to the next meal. Last year when I came down with Covid and I temporarily lost my taste, I nearly lost my mind and will to live - thank God I got it back! The two necessities to functional eating are taste, which makes it enjoyable, and good teeth, which makes it productive. Seeing as I eat meat, good teeth are a necessity! Maintenance is required, and that means a regular visit to the dentist. Now if you’re like me, going to the dentist is no picnic, especially when I hear him say, "This is only going to pinch for a second." Those words make me cringe! The pinch feels like an ice pick driving through my jaw, and the ‘second’ feels like forever. Interestingly, when it is all over, my teeth are in better condition than when I started, and eating my meals will be more enjoyable because of that ‘pinch for a second.’ Afterwards it’s never as bad as I thought, and I’m thankful for it. What is the spiritual application here?
2 Corinthians 4:17
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
‘For our light affliction, which is but for a moment...’ Just as a dentist who has our best interest at stake, doesn’t want us to be ignorant of what he is trying to accomplish and enlightens us to the purpose of the pain we are now in and what glory is to come, God does the same here.
First, be reminded that we as Christians are the avenue that reveals the hope of the Gospel.
2 Corinthians 3: 2, 3, 6
Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
Second, remember because we have this responsibility and because of the mercy we received, don’t quit!
2 Corinthians 4:1
Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;
Third, remember this is about Jesus, not me.
2 Corinthians 4:5
For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.
Fourth, be reminded that affliction (pain, suffering) is coming, but the purpose of it is to make Christ known.
2 Corinthians 4:7-10
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
I don’t know about you, but I need to be 'reminded’ regularly and often about my purpose in life. Far too many times, I allow my afflictions to selfishly distract me into discouragement rather than staying focused on knowing that God is molding me into the image of His Son and focusing on the purpose of the big picture and not that ‘pinch for a second.’