Bucket Lists and Fear


I was asked to give a talk at a ladies luncheon at our church and their theme was “Bucket List.”  They asked me to share a bit about our time as missionaries in Thailand, and go anywhere I liked with my talk.  I can talk FOREVER, so I asked what time frame they wanted me to keep to.  Ruth replied, “Take as long as you like!”  What a bad idea – so we arrived at 45 minutes to an hour, VERY generous!  So I planned for 30 minutes and took 30 minutes – a miracle! Well, plus the little bit I told about Thailand before jumping in with this. Here is my talk.

I have a bucket list.  You know, those things you want to do before you die.  There are some odd things on my list, reflecting my personality.  It looks something like this, in no particular order:

  • Many more MAJOR evangelistic opportunities
  • Tour Israel
  • Check out Florence, Venice, Rome and Vienna
  • Visit Thailand MANY more times
  • Renew our vows on our 50th wedding anniversary in June 2025
  • See Ankor Wat (in Cambodia)
  • Visit Madagascar (homeland of lemurs)
  • Visit Honduras (homeland of howler monkeys)
  • Visit the Great Barrier Reef in Australia
  • Visit Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) in Australia
  • Visit all our friends in Australia
  • See penguins in the wild (possibly in Ushuaia?)
  • See the Northern Lights
  • See all 50 states, New England in the autumn
  • Visit New Zealand, see where The Hobbit was filmed, visit all our friends there
  • Visit the UK and our friends there
  • Visit Canada and our friends there
  • See my book/books published beyond self-publishing (I think I have interesting and/or helpful stuff to share)
  • Learn to sing PROPERLY
  • Learn to play the guitar PROPERLY
  • Learn to play the piano FAR better
  • Re-learn the flute
  • Many more things, but this is enough for now!

I know many of you are thinking lemurs, howler monkeys and penguins?!  Yep!  I’ve already had the opportunity to pet kangaroos and hold a wombat, so we’re good on those two things.

Because this is to be a talk at a CHURCH ladies luncheon, I felt tempted to alter that list, to scold myself for not being “spiritual enough.”  But my cousin had some amazing insight.  She wrote to me on Facebook and said, “I find our enemy attempts many times to steal our joy, and ambitions. He does so by convincing us we are not worthy to attain such goals or makes us to feel guilty if we take and do some of the things on our bucket list as if we are somehow being selfish to want the things on our bucket list.”  So, I looked at this list once again and realized most revolve around people, places of both beauty and accomplishment, and abilities that could be honed to advance the Kingdom of God.  I don’t know if that original thought about spirituality was from pride or fear, or a combination of both, but I choose to forge on!

What’s on Your Bucket List?

My bucket list is so odd – so I thought I’d take a very non-scientific poll of my Facebook friends and see what’s on their lists.  The first six were posted by more than one person.  After that, they are in no particular order.

  • Visit Israel
  • See the Northern Lights
  • See Niagra Falls
  • See all 50 states
  • See New Zealand
  • Visit Alaska/take an Alaskan cruise
  • Go skydiving
  • Go air gliding in a squirrel suit
  • Visit Scotland for the Highland Games
  • Visit the UK, ride Hogwart’s Express
  • Visit Four Corners
  • See the Vatican
  • Visit the Louvre
  • See the New England fall colors
  • Travel cross-country in an RV
  • Hold elected office
  • Have my books published (not only self-published) – can you tell that’s my husband?
  • Go on a book tour (these two were set forth by two different people)
  • Go to Thailand
  • See all the Great Lakes
  • Go on a Disney Cruise
  • Visit Norway and go on a river cruise there
  • Visit Canada
  • “See my musician spouse play in a large venue, such as The Grand Ole Opry”
  • Visit Waco, TX. Knowing my friend, I assume this is to see Magnolia Farms and meet Chip and Joanna Gaines.
  • Learn to surf
  • Travel the Trans-Siberian Railroad
  • See all the continents

Lots of interesting things.  You can tell which ones MIGHT belong to my younger friends.

What Keeps You from Accomplishing Your Bucket List?

Wow!  Post that question on Facebook, and you’ll read a LOT of “time and money” answers.  But I was hoping for a few answers that were a bit less obvious and more telling.

One of my friends responded, “I’m supposed to have a bucket list?”  Years ago I thought the same thing, and even phrased it in a very similar fashion.  For me, it was hopelessness disguised as humor, gloominess disguised as gaiety.  I believed that it was so beyond possibility, why even bother?  Maybe some of you feel that way.  I sure did for a good, long time.

I have a couple of teacher friends that responded.  We teachers are experts at metacognition, a term educators use and is defined as “awareness of analysis of one’s own learning or thinking processes.” (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/metacognition accessed 26 September 2018)  Roxann, a friend a bit older than I, responded, “Time and money for sure.  But I find when I’m afraid/uncertain of something I keep putting it off.”  Carole, a bit younger than I, wrote, “Fearing success as much as failure.  Either will cause change and it is easier to stay in place than to change.”

I think time and money are often the obvious excuses.  But I also believe that often the reason we don’t pursue our “bucket lists” is because of deep-seated fear.  And fear is really what I want to address.

My Biggest Fear

I’ll be quite honest here.  I think I have a lot of interesting stories to tell, mostly because I’ve had the privilege of living overseas for 11 years.  There have been many crazy things that have happened to me, and I have gained insight into a lot of things because of these experiences.  I believe a lot of people could benefit from, or at least be entertained by, these stories.

But I fear rejection.  This is what keeps me from writing and sharing.  God has been teaching me about fear in many of its forms.  I taught the ladies in Thailand about fear and overcoming fear.  I took those notes and wrote and self-published a little book about it.  My heart must have been beating a mile a minute and my blood pressure sky-high when I clicked that button on Amazon’s KDP press site to “Publish Now.”

(BTW, just go to amazon.com and put my name, Cindy Bratton, in the search bar, and you’ll find it.)

I have other topics I’ve taught the ladies there: The Fruit of the Spirit and The Armor of God and The Put-Ons and Put-Offs, amongst other things.  Simple, basic things.  My little twist on all of it is simple application of truths into daily life, not necessarily the deep, knowing-the-Greek-and-Hebrew-and-syntax type of learning, but the practical application of Scripture to life in simple, doable ways.  But nothing I write is scholarly, and I cringe that I’ll be condemned for my “shallowness.”  I allow this fear to cripple me, keep me from writing and sharing, teaching and encouraging others.  Maybe some of you have a similar fear.

But there are other fears that can be just a crippling.

I’ve come to the conclusion that worry is fear, disguised as something honorable. Let me explain what I mean.

First of all, let me be perfectly clear that I do worry from time to time, but it is not USUALLY what controls me.  I see trouble or the potential for trouble, and then make a plan and do it.

The silliest worry I had was worrying because I didn’t worry about my loved ones enough.  How silly is that?!  Does this ever happen to anyone else?  I would scroll down my Facebook feed and see my women friends worried about this thing for their loved one, or another thing.  Of course, it’s all love, NOT worry! (That was written very much tongue-in-cheek fashion.) This “love” is lauded as good, as desirable, even as honorable!  I think to myself, “Do I really love my loved ones?  If so, why am I not consumed with ‘concern’ for their wellbeing and happiness, etc., etc.?  What is the matter with me?!”  I worry that I’m not a “normal” wife, mother, grandmother, friend.  While that’s true enough, it’s not my lack of worry that’s the problem.

his is kind of an abrupt transition, but back to fear in general.   What I’m learning is the opposite of fear is NOT courage.  I know . . . you think I’m crazy for sure now!  Courage is the “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”  (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/courage accessed 5 October 2018)  The opposite of fear is LOVE.  1 John 4:8 tells us, “. . . [P]erfect love expels all fear” (NLT). When His love is exceptionally present in our lives, we will be able to live BOLDLY for Him.  In 2 Timothy 1:7 we also see fear and love contrasted:  “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (NKJV).

Here’s the challenge:  Will you choose to place “Learn to not live in fear” on your bucket list?  Oh, fear will come knocking at your heart . . . but, will you use that sound mind God has placed in you, rely on His love, on His power, to rise above that fear?

I want to close with the lyrics to a song entitled “Fear is a Liar.”  It was written by Jason Ingram, Zach Williams, and Jonathan Lindley Smith and recorded by Zach Williams.  Listen to these words.

When he told you you’re not good enough
When he told you you’re not right
When he told you you’re not strong enough
To put up a good fight
When he told you you’re not worthy
When he told you you’re not loved
When he told you you’re not beautiful
That you’ll never be enough

Fear he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
Cause fear he is a liar

When he told you were troubled
You’ll forever be alone
When he told you you should run away
You’ll never find a home
When he told you you were dirty
And you should be ashamed
When he told you you could be the one
That grace could never change

Fear he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
Cause fear he is a liar

[CHECK OUT THIS BRIDGE, fear contrasted with love]
Let Your fire fall and cast out all my fears
Let Your fire fall Your love is all I feel
Fear he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
Cause fear he is a liar

https://genius.com/Zach-williams-fear-is-a-liar-lyrics accessed 5 October 2018


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