On Saturday I attended the memorial service for EMT Patti Frost at the Bald Hills Fire Department. Patti was generous of spirit, fiercely loyal, quirky enough to be a real person and filled with thanks for the life she was living and the people who shared it. 

As I listened to Patti being eulogized by the family and friends who loved her, it reminded me that life is fragile. Scripture speaks to the unpredictability of our future: 

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36)

Patti’s unexpected exit is a poignant reminder that if there are still things I want to do before I die, this would be a good time to do them. I recently read an article by Joe McKeever in which he suggested “The Christian Bucket List: 50 Things to Do Before Heaven.” 

I printed it and began by crossing off some of the items I’ve already done, highlighting the ones that bear repeating. 

• Introduce someone to Jesus. (Whether or not they build a friendship is up to them.)

• Discover your spiritual gift and use it to bless others.

• Tell everyone you love that you love them.

• Visit a mission field. (This doesn’t require a passport. Start locally.)

• Make (or update) your will.

• Become a person of good humor. (Laugh a lot.) 

• Find someone from your past and apologize. (The more, the better on this one.)

• Give a needy child the Christmas of his/her dreams.

• Plant some flowers. Or a tree.

• Read the entire Bible. (Even Leviticus, Numbers, and every single Proverb.)

• Wash someone’s feet. 

• Forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it. (Start with yourself.)

 

Then I made a list of the items I’ve never done and want to do before I die.

• Visit the Holy Land. Traveling to the Middle East is as safe as it’s probably going to get in my lifetime. My husband and I aren’t getting any younger. Soon or never is the timing on this one.

• Memorize an entire chapter of the Bible. I’m going to start with one of David’s Psalms because they reverberate loudest in my heart.

• Learn to pray better. McKeever said, “One of the finest things that could happen to many of us would be to develop a divine dissatisfaction with our prayer life.” Mine has room for improvement. 

• Pay off everything and get out of debt. Scripture says we have money so that we can be generous. Debt hinders generosity.

• Develop some latent talent or a new passion. Patti became an EMT in her late 60s. She loved serving and was really good at it.

• Become something of an expert on one book of the Bible. If you learn it, God will use it.

• Write down the story of your life. Don’t let history die when you do. There will be grandchildren or nieces and nephews or the decedents of your friends who need to learn the lessons God has taught you.

• Master one of the new techno-gadgets. Ask someone from Generation Z to help you with this one if needed.

• Make your own bucket list and then postpone kicking it. Eat healthier. Take more walks. Have a checkup with your doctor once a year.

I don’t know if Patti had a “bucket list,” but one of the things I loved was that she didn’t wander through life spouting platitudes of “thanksgiving.” She marched through life demonstrating the importance of “thanks-living.” 

She will be missed.

•••

Sylvia Peterson is a former co-pastor for Bald Hill Community Church and an author. She and her husband are chaplains for the Bald Hills Fire Department. You can email her at sylviap7@comcast.net.

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