What About the Next Day?

In one of our meetings, Pastor Chad asked the question “what about the next day”. This question caught my imagination. It was asked in reference to the story of the healing at the pool Bethesda. You can find this story in John 5. Miracles that Jesus performed were on real people and changed lives. This question is valid for all of Jesus’ interactions with people; day to day interactions and miracles.

Take the example of Jesus healing the invalid man at the pool.

The next day I assume that this man would need to find a job, acquire a skill, and provide for himself now that he wasn’t an invalid. Did he have family and friends that helped him each day get to the pool? He didn’t need that help now. Would he return the favor to them in their areas of need? Did he praise God for the healing? How would he live his life going forward? Is he going to continue to offer excuses for his life like in verse 7? And what is being referred to in verse 14 (he needs to stop sinning or something worse will happen)?

We don’t have any details of his life after being healed except that he later ran into Jesus at the temple. And really for me it’s more of a curiosity about what happened to him. The question lingers, “what about the next day?”.

Another example is the woman caught in adultery in John 8.

She was taken into the temple courts where Jesus was teaching. I’m sure everyone heard the commotion and gathered to hear what was going on. Everyone heard that she was caught in adultery. If her life wasn’t ruined before, it was now. Even after the accusers left, she was still there. Even after Jesus didn’t condemn her and told her to not sin. Everyone knew. We know how fast gossip travels. Did it even take 15 minutes for her family and friends to find out if they didn’t know before? So, the question stands, “what about the next day?”.

Did her family and friends effectively disown her? Did she have a husband and if so, what happened to the marriage? Did she turn from sin or did she fall deeper into it? Was she loved or made an outcast? She was used by the establishment to try and trap Jesus; then left there destroyed. Scripture doesn’t say what happened to her. Scripture does say that Jesus didn’t condemn her. How did she go forward?

The question “what about the next day” also applies to us. I have been given great blessings. A good job, great kids, a wonderful wife, and the saving grace from God. So, what about my next day? And, if you were to meet Jesus, what about your next day?

Some days I’m the main character in the story. He has healed me; he has forgiven me; my life is changed. How do I react? How do I go forward? And there are always consequences to our actions and the actions of others. Consequences may be good or bad. How we handle these events is the key in answering “what about the next day?”.

Some days I’m a supporting character in the story. Sure, it’s up to the main character to follow through; i.e. to work, to not fall back into sin, to mend fences, to confess, to be grateful, etc. But it is my responsibility to be the supporting cast. To love them, to support them, to guide them, to help them, to teach them, … It’s how we affect the outcome. It how we make the difference in someone else’s life. It’s how we are part of God’s work.

I enjoy thinking upon what the “day after” events may be in the scriptures. What might have happened, both good and bad. It’s harder to think of my “next days” and then live it. The “next day” is where the rubber meets the road. Do you follow the path God has laid before you? Do you follow where He leads? You decide.

Peace, David

What’s in the future?

I knew retirement was coming and I had been thinking of what I wanted to do during retirement. I just didn’t know it would be a few years earlier than I had planned. Sure, there are several things that I had neglected and need to do. Such as cleaning out the garage. And we want to travel and visit parts of the country that we haven’t been to.  And we want to remodel our bathroom. And I could work at some of my hobbies.  And I suppose I could get another job.  But what could I do that had a lasting effect?  More importantly, what did God want me to do during retirement?

I really don’t have a clear-cut answer.  It’s not like I’ve received an email saying “David, I want you to do _______”.  I trust it will be revealed when the appropriate time comes.  Need to have faith, have patience, seek guidance. He will guide and direct me like He has throughout my life.

Pastor Chad uses a couple of phrases that ring true in this excellent sermon.

“Christians are not guided by fate; Christians are guided by faith.”

“God had plans for us.”

From Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NIV)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Peace,  David

Boys and blocks

Several years ago, I taught a Sunday School class of pre-school boys. One if their favorite activities was to knock down blocks. We had these big soft blocks and I would stack them high. Invariably one of them would hit or kick and knock down the tower. Once one started the rest would join in. Then we had to build it again. There wasn’t nearly as much energy in building the stack as there was in knocking it down.

We start at an early age. Many boys (and girls) love to examine things and take things apart. Grabbing glasses off of faces and pulling earrings off. Then they start taking apart simple toys and then progressing to more expensive toys. Later on, some of them actually learn to put things back together and eventually start to make things better.

Taking things apart is much easier than building things. Destroying things is much easier than building things. It doesn’t really take much to tear things down. But, it’s difficult to build things and build them well.

The part of software development that I enjoyed the most was building it. Planning on how it was put together, creating it, and making it run correctly. Building is also why I enjoy home improvement projects, origami, and woodworking. Sure, tearing down is fun. But the sense of accomplishment when you’ve built something is much more satisfying and longer lasting. You see the results for much longer.

It’s harder to see when we talk about building someone up. We are to build each other up. From 1 Thess. 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” An encouraging word. Coming along side of another to help them when and where they need help. To remind them they are not alone (not just in this time of Covid, but all of the time). To listen to them. To pray for them. To feed and help with shelter. To teach.

Unlike doing a home project, you probably won’t see the results immediately if at all. This is where faith comes in. You need to continue to build them up even without the feedback of accomplishment or a sense of change. It will take many, many, many repetitions. Keep at it. Work at it. Use your stubbornness and “don’t quit” attitude to build others up. But don’t be obnoxious about it. It is not really your project. It’s God’s project. You are his hands and feet. You are his instrument to build others up. Listen to His leading on where you need to help and build.

Peace, David