Maybe it’s just me, but I like having a “bucket list.”
Every year, instead of making resolutions, I make a bucket list of goals to give my year meaning and purpose. That way, I know what I want to get done, not what I’m going to strain to avoid doing. And I also know, on a given day, that I can choose among a whole bunch of things I care about accomplishing. Some have deadlines. Many call for weekly progress. But they’re goal focused, not deprivation focused. And that makes it much easier for me to keep going toward the purposes that give my life meaning.
During COVID 19, many goals are out of reach for most of us. The fact that I am able to continue working from home (even if cut back to part-time) makes me unusually blessed. That I have savings to make up for the income shortfall is an even more unusual blessing. That I’m not crowded by children needing attention and meals is (for me, at this moment) a blessing. I understand that I’m very fortunate at a time when 1 in 10 Americans is unemployed. The blessing of work and income is particularly resonant because in the first two economic downturns of my career, I lost my job. It looks like I’ll get through this one professionally unscathed.
Today, from Ecclesiastes:
A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25)
Is the writer suggesting that we forget God and just become immersed in this world? Clearly not, because he points out that food and joy come from God. Still, he says nothing is a better goal than to enjoy the work and food God has given.
A friend told me about one of her neighbors who has a Harvard master’s degree and is working at a grocery store. I’m sure many of us know — or even are living — such stories. And yet God says nothing is better than to enjoy the work and food God has given. God even urges, by way of caution:
Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions. (Ecclesiastes 7:10)
It doesn’t matter whether my vision of “the old days” is the high spending tech bubble or the “wealth-creating” housing bubble or the “free-spirited” 1970s or the “God-fearing” 1950s or the hard working and “unified” war years … or, for that matter, the Founding Years, or Abraham Kuypers’ Netherlands or England when the Wesleys were transforming the working class or even the fast-breaking days of the first-century church. I might even imagine that the “good old days” is any time before COVID 19 set so many limits on my life for the sake of public health.
God says not to yearn for the past. There is always much to learn from those who have gone before us. At the same time, we are intended to live in the world we have now. What God says we are to remember instead is that:
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)
My COVID confinement “work and food” bucket today includes:
- Walk 6,500 steps
- Post this blog
- Write some more of my Herald Press book
- Keep up with the current projects in my fundraising job
- Enjoy healthy meals (plus some dark chocolate!)
- Connect with a friend or relative or two
What about you?
God bless you all!