Article by: Cassie Lynn Douglas
As we await the restart of our normal life, it’s a great time to re-evaluate our 2020 goals, as a few things might have changed since January 1.
While this time during the COVID-19 pandemic is hard, it is also temporary. I believe this virus will become less prevalent as we find ways to test for it and treat it. I pray that those who have lost their jobs will get new ones and our economy will recover.
In the meantime, setting goals will help us to live purposefully in this season. This is as true during the chaos of a pandemic as it is during ordinary times.Goals help us to live purposefully; this is as true during the chaos of a pandemic as it is during ordinary times.
Give yourself grace, but challenge yourself to make wise use of this weird time.
Now is a great time to rethink our priorities and the way we do things. It may also be a great time to tackle goals that you always claim to “not have enough time for.”
Likewise, it may be time to put our to-do list on hold and focus on caring for our people in the best way possible.
In order to help you keep up the good work of living a purposeful life, even amid a pandemic, we have created a list of 21 practical ways you can “Shine God’s Light” right now.
Creating Your “Shine God’s Light” Bucket List
Several years ago, the company I worked for asked its employees to write a bucket list of f things we would love to do if money or time was not an issue.
I had never made a bucket list before, but it didn’t take me long to think of a few adventures I’d been dreaming about.
Visit New York City at Christmas.
Drive Highway 1 on the west coast.
See the fall foliage on the east coast.
The company started an annual tradition of funding one bucket list wish for three different employees. I wish I could tell you my wish was chosen, but alas, it was not.
While I no longer work with them, I’ve seen my former co-workers get to skydive, see the play Hamilton in New York City and visit the Grand Canyon.
These are amazing opportunities that might not have occurred without this company’s generosity.
Our leaders knew the value that an experience like this would add to their employees’ lives.
A bucket list can be fun to dream about and check off, but it doesn’t always have to be made up of grand, once-in-a-lifetime adventures.
The value of a bucket list lies in the experience itself.
What if we tweak the traditional bucket list idea and approach it in a God-centered way?What if we tweak the traditional bucket list idea and approach it in a God-centered way?
In Matthew 5:16 (ESV), Jesus says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
What if we made a “Shine God’s Light” Bucket List with experiences that can help us share God’s love and make a positive difference in our communities right now?
Step 1: Make a Plan
If you have kids, I encourage you to make this a family bucket list. Teaching your kids to shine God’s light is invaluable! If you don’t have kids, you can tackle your list solo, with your spouse or with whoever you choose.
- Meet with your family/spouse/friend with something to take notes on.
- Read Matthew 5:16 and discuss what it means to “let your light shine before others.”
- Create a bucket list of activities you would like to do to shine God’s light.
- Set a timeline or goal for each project or item on the list.
- Post the list somewhere everyone can easily see it.
- As you and your family/friend accomplish the items on the bucket list, discuss what impact shining God’s light had on others and how that action glorified God.
Step 2: Shine with Intention
How many times do we hear about a service opportunity and think, “That sounds like something I’d love to be a part of, but I just can’t right now. Maybe one day!”
Shining God’s light doesn’t happen without intention.
Combining the bucket list concept with God’s calling to shine our light is an exciting way to be intentional about making time to experience the blessing of serving others.Combining the bucket list concept with God’s calling to shine our light is an exciting way to be intentional about making time to experience the blessing of serving others.
21 Ideas for a “Shine God’s Light” Bucket List
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 ESV
- Research and plan a short-term mission trip.
- Serve in a community food kitchen or food bank. Be sure to check age restrictions if you are taking kids.
- Pick up trash around your neighborhood or area park. This could really be done anywhere!
- Find somewhere local to volunteer for a day, such as an animal shelter, botanical gardens, children’s shelter, etc.
- Volunteer at your church workday. Typically, some people work outside on landscaping, painting or picking up trash, while others work inside cleaning, organizing or disinfecting toys.
- Cook a meal for a family in need. Deliver a home-cooked meal after a friend has a new baby, after a loss of a loved one, or if someone is sick or hurt.
- Make tie blankets for a pediatric cancer hospital unit. These are simple, and you and your kids will have fun picking out the fleece to create the blankets with. Pray for the recipient as you tie the edges. Be sure to check with the hospital first to see if they accept homemade blankets and what rules they may have.
- Create sidewalk art or messages to encourage others.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9 ESV
- Join the Living by Design Community for 31 Days of Prayer. Sign up to receive our free prayer guide and be sure to join us for our LIVE weekly prayer calls every Saturday through the month of May 2020.
- Pray aloud for each of your family members. Pick a different family member each day and pray specifically for that person.
- Pray together for each group of first responders, military, or essential workers. Pick a different group each week—police, firefighters, EMS drivers, Marines, doctors, etc. If you have kids, talk about what makes their job difficult and pray specifically for God to help in those areas.
“For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” Ephesians 5:8 ESV
- Donate to a canned food drive. To find a food drive, check with your kids’ school, your church, the city food pantry or at your grocery store.
- Sponsor a child through an international aid organization. This would be a long-term financial commitment, but it’s a great way to make an impact on someone’s life. Usually, the organization has the sponsored child send letters and updates, and you are encouraged to write the child letters as well.
- Come up with a creative way to raise money to donate to your charity of choice (handmade items, baked goods, etc.). This is a great way to have your kids learn entrepreneurial skills as well as generosity.
- Buy a meal or coffee for the person in the drive-thru line behind you.
- Leave cash in a store for someone to find – in a book, beside the diapers, etc.
- Leave a large tip for a restaurant server or delivery driver. This could be for someone who went above and beyond in their service, or for someone who you can tell is having a rough day.
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV
- Plan to host a Bible study or book study with a small group of friends. This can be done online now or in your home later.
- Make a call list of people of you don’t get to connect with as much as you would like (think about relatives, elderly people you are close to, or old friends), set a schedule (make one call a week on Sundays, one call per day, etc.), and cycle through your list.
- Volunteer to do yardwork for someone you know who could use the help.
- Create a piece of art and send it to a friend (paint a watercolor canvas, frame a great photograph you took, write a song, etc.). There are lots of how-to videos on YouTube!
Use these ideas or come up with your own as you’re inspired by God, your environment, or the needs you see around you.
Be creative and push yourself outside of your comfort zone!
These days, we can easily get caught up in our schedules, responsibilities, or just surviving this pandemic, and feel too busy to help others. But this is the perfect time for us to shine God’s light to help others.
In a disconnected world with very high-stress factors, focusing on doing something kind for others can reduce stress and be a positive experience for both you and the recipient.
A “Shine God’s Light” Bucket List is a fun way to be intentional about experiencing the joyful blessings that come through living out our calling to shine our light for God.
– Cassie Lynn Douglas
Cassie Lynn Douglas (“Casey”) lives in Texas with her husband, daughter, and labradoodle. She writes to encourage others to love God, live better, and shine their light. She loves traveling, reading and spending time with family and friends. You can read more of Cassie’s writing at CassieLynnDouglas.com and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.