The popular movie, ‘The Bucket List,’ has prompted many people to develop their own. A bucket list contains all the things you want to do before you kick, the bucket, that is. A great motivator for many, does it really fulfill the space in our lives at the end of them? If you performed or experienced every item on your bucket list, would it really matter?
I’ve created my own bucket list, for entertainment and personal musing, but I’ve found a work that is more exacting to define the purpose and direction of my own life. I call it, ‘Whittle Work.”
When facing problems, issues, or situations of concern in my own life, I envision a large cube of wood that I am going to shape into something of meaning. Much like a wood worker, I view the wood as a potential object of purpose or art. My task is to shape it down to its core and reveal the hidden beauty within.
The wood represents my life. The shaping, or whittling, represents the issues. So, as I swipe my tool over the wood and leave piles of wooden curls in the process, I begin my work toward the hidden core. As the curls form piles around my block of life, I see the problems pile up; the trials stack up in uneven mounds. The relationships which bless or distress, the accomplishments or successes, the failures and the long list of material accoutrements lay scattered about. Isn’t that like life to give us unexpected piles around us as we work along?
In the end, each of us must ask ourselves: is it the piles that we are seeking to reveal from our life or is it the hidden core waiting to be exposed? Within those piles we find the bucket list. Is that what we are living for? Whittling away to make piles of curls, or, are we working toward the revelation of what lies within the core? Are the piles of curls the true art, or, is it the finished product that ultimately is worth our time and is expressive of the reality of the work of God in our lives?
For the Christian, the piles can be like icing on a cake. We work to accomplish those piles: good works, sincere loving relationships, and a myriad of faithfulness that we strive to offer the Lord for his pleasure. But, in the end, we work to reveal that hidden beauty within the cube of our lives. Standing boldly in the center of the curled piles of our life is the cross.
No amount of money, success, relationships, or accomplishments is worth not revealing the cross in our lives, our cube of wood. If you work tirelessly and create piles and piles of curls and never get to the cross, you have squandered your opportunity to truly create.
I ask myself as each trial occurs: what is the worst thing that could happen? I whittle away more curls and let them pile up around my cube. I keep whittling, painful as it is at times and suffering in tears, and keep asking the same question, and keep whittling away. If I lose it all, even life itself, will there be the cross in the center of the remains of my work?
For the diligent worker, the answer is: yes. He will never leave us or forsake us. He will supply all of our needs. His mercies are new every morning. He has prepared a place for us. The cross has stood for centuries as the efforts of eons of souls have worked and tried and lived and died. For those whose cube of wood is shaven down to the cross, peace and security are revealed with the end result.
Make a bucket list. Remember it is only a pile of curls around your real work. Keep whittling, stroke after stroke, and keep the rhythm that the Lord teaches us in His word. Keep tooling away and reveal that unique exhibition of Christ’s work in your life. The real and lasting beauty of life’s work exists not in the pile of wooden chaff around the cube of life but in the exposure of Christ within us and through the revelation of the cross.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/projector/2532408576/”>a.pasquier</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>