The Problem With Bucket Lists Part 1

A couple of weeks back, that oft-spoken moment happened again. I’d been talking up the rapture and how, with all the signs of the times, I couldn’t help but think we were getting close to that foretold, miracle. I’m speaking of the event when Christ returns for the bride, meets her in the air, and whisks her off to what I believe will be the wedding ceremony of the church and Christ, followed by a time in the marriage chamber for seven years.**

The gal I spoke with replied with something I’ve heard many, many times before.

And it makes me sad (and a little crazy).

She said, “I’m not ready for the rapture. I still have things I want to do here.”

In other words, she has a bucket list she hopes to fill before she dies.

There are two problems with bucket lists as I see it. This blog will deal with Bucket List Problem #1 and a subsequent blog will address Bucket Lists Problem #2.

Bucket Lists Problem #1

I get having goals and plans and enjoying this amazing life we’ve been blessed with. Intentional living is living at the fullest. Having goals and dreams sets us on that course. The Word of God tells us where there is no vision, people perish (Proverbs 29:18). But what I don’t understand is how we’ve come to misunderstand that when death comes, life as we know it will cease to exist. This is true for this temporary body, but not for the soul.

Death being the end of life is not biblical teaching for the Christian. Death is the act of leaving behind the current vehicle we occupy and moving from one phase to another—either to eternal torment in hell or eternal bliss with Christ.

We Live in a Shadow

Let’s view this life through a biblical lens.

Colossians 2:16-17 tells us that the festivals practiced by the Jews in biblical times were mere shadows of things to come. And Hebrews chapters eight through eleven speak of how Melchizedek is a priestly shadow of the coming Christ and the law given to Moses was a shadow of good things to come. These chapters in Hebrews drive home the ideas that God created the things of this earth to speak to us about heaven, further explaining that the state of what we live in now is a mere shadow of things to come.

Since Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, we’ve been living in a less-than world, but a world that was created to resemble heaven.

Look at Romans 1:20:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

God created a world that spoke of His nature and His heavenly abode. He created a physical world to represent the invisible world. Right now we live in the physical, visible world which is a shadow of the invisible world. Once we die or are raptured, we will live in the invisible world that is the substance that our world was made to teach us about. We’ll be in the real deal then.

You’re not leaving what you’ve always known when you die. You are entering into a better condition of what you’ve always known when you die—as long as you are among the saved.

Let me put it this way, if a mountain on planet earth is a shadow of a mountain in heaven, then try to imagine the grandeur of the real thing. If music on earth is a shadow of music in heaven, what kind of emotional experience will live concerts be there? I think of it like a landscape painting. I can look at a beautifully painted canvas and try and imagine what it would be like to walk there or dine there, or live there. Right now, we live on the canvas. The real stuff the canvas was painted of is on the other side of death for the Christ believer.

Are you following my thoughts?

Bucket lists imply that there are things to be done on earth while we are alive that cannot be done in heaven when we enter that dimension. That’s a silly conjecture. If all things earth were made to teach you and I something about heaven, then all things heaven are not only going to be familiar, but better than the shadows we live in now.

Do you play a guitar here? Maybe you’ll master multiple instruments there. Enjoy snow skiing? Perhaps you’ll have the opportunity to slalom down a mountain the size of Everest there. Find your peace ocean side now? Wait till you walk a beach in heaven.


When another friend and I were talking about the mandatory vax cards needed to enter some countries, she mentioned that she might never make it to Israel now because of the restrictions. But I loved her attitude. She shrugged and said, “Oh well, I’m going to be seeing Israel during the thousand-year reign anyway. So I’m not missing out.”

Wow. That gal knew her Bible and because she did, she has the true understanding that dying is not the end of life.

Dying is an extension of life—the life God created when He first made you.

You aren’t made a second time. As a Christian you’re reborn, but not remade. The Word tells us that you and I were fully known and created in the womb. Our rebirth happens outside the womb, as a decision to believe upon the grace of Christ. So the same person God created in the womb will be the same core person living in heaven.

We are promised eternal life because your life, as a believer, doesn’t end. Your life continues. You will still be you, only better.

Mountains will still be mountains, only more beautiful.

Stepping into heaven (the invisible) will be like stepping into our true destinies.

So, to circle back to bucket lists—you can see that having these intentional inventories are not a bad thing but can limit our thinking. The bucket list can imply that our chances at getting to experience some of the wonders of this world end when we die. But if you’re a born-again believer, then I’ve got good news. Your chances of accomplishing your dreams are better in the next phase than they are here in the shadow lands where delusional spirits and menacing demons seek to kill, steal, and destroy.

When it comes to living the epitome of the abundant life, we’re just getting warmed up living in the shadow lands. Our true potential lies in the substance—the real life God had in mind when he made the human race.

As well, let’s not forget that after the Great Tribulation, Christ sets up a thousand-year reign here on planet earth. We’re all going to be back in the shadow lands ruling and reigning with Him and a thousand years is plenty of time for you to make that trip you haven’t been able to scratch off your dream list (lol). I don’t begin to think that everything will be exact copies and that life in heaven won’t take on spectacularly new dimensions. But I’m using simple ideas to get your imagination going so we won’t view death as an end to the lives we love. Death as the end is not the way we’re to view our lives.

We’re to be truth knowers, discerning the times (Luke 12:54-56) and loving his appearing (2Tim.4:8). Not frantic earth-dwellers getting our bucket lists filled.

So look up, your redemption draws near. Do not dread the birth pangs that come upon the world, but rather look—with great hope and expectation—for your Savior’s return.

Part 2 of the Bucket list coming soon.

If I perish, I perish,



Published by lauriegreenwestlake

Writer of three award-winning novels, L. G. Westlake is a gifted communicator, born out of a very real and raw journey with Christ. Her quest includes serving as founding director of a Crisis Pregnancy Center in Texas and both long and short-term mission work in Equatorial Guinea, Honduras, Mexico, The Philippines, India and Guatemala. Today, L.G. serves as a manager of marketing and communications for an worldwide ministry that shares God’s Word with the world.

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