It all adds up.

I read the other week about creating a reverse bucket list. There are, it turns out, two versions of this. One is to make a list of all the things that you are letting go of doing. (Like driving across bridges, maybe, or climbing all the 14,000 foot mountains in Indiana.) 

The other version is to list the things that you have done. I’ve been to 3-4 major league baseball games. I’ve been with my parents when they died. I’ve remembered to take cars for oil changes for forty years. I have friends who have completed one course of chemo or several, who have birthed children, buried children, served meals to 100 people several times or several people 100s of times. I have friends who have breathed for 82 years and counting.

We spend so much time thinking about what we want to do, what we can’t do, what we’re afraid that we’ll mess up, that we often forget what we have done. And, for many of us, the things that God has, one way or another, helped us survive.

Samuel was showing, in a very tangible way, this idea of a reverse bucket list when he set a stone on end, called it Ebenezer, and said, “God has helped us to this point.” Moses had done this with stones from the Red Sea, Joshua with stones from the Jordan.

When we have a named marker of what has been done, it can encourage us.

Five years back, I made a list of projects around the house that we wanted to get done. Of the 24 items, 2 are left. (And, we didn’t know about the water heater when we started.)

I could be frustrated with how long it took. I could look at all the things that we still want to do, or the things that will inevitably break.

Or I could reflect on all that has been accomplished and the living that has been done in and from this house.

Because, God has helped us to this point.


Giving the Year Meaning: A Healing Journal for Advent can help with the process of thinking through the last year. Order it soon.