I confess I’ve been procrastinating about answering this question. I haven’t been entirely sure what the question is. There are a lot of questions we ask or are asked that may or may not be the most important one. If and when we ask them, are we certain we receive the best answer? If and when we get an answer, do we wish we had never asked?
I decided I finally needed to answer this question about what I think the most important question in life is. I thought about the possible ones and the impossible answers that accompany them. Many of them ask “Why?”
- Why do bad things happen to good people?
- Why do good things happen to bad people?
- Why do bad things happen?
- Why did this bad thing happen to me?
- Why did this good thing happen to me?
- Why am I here?
But, the more I thought about the most important question in life, I–who often starts many of my own questions with Why?–wondered if that is the correct word to begin the question. After all, the question above starts with What? Maybe the most important question in life starts with What?, too. Then it dawned on me. There is a question that encompasses all of the Why questions, answers the main question, and asks the major unasked question that comes after Why am I here?
What’s next? is an earthly question with a temporary, fluctuating answer. We don’t know the answer to What’s next? until we are faced with making a life-changing decision or a life-changing event determines what will need to happen next. Maybe it isn’t even all that earth-shattering what I do next. After I finish writing this blog, what will I do next? Well, I should probably make myself presentable to go out in public, whatever that means these days. After that, I’m going to clean the house. Which makes “presentable” nebulous if I’m going to require a shower right after I clean it. But, I do these things anyway, knowing there is a temporary solution for this earthly What’s next? and many others. Even if I think I know my What’s next?, it could change before my day starts. Take last week for example.
I mean, when your husband goes off to work Monday morning and comes back home because he thinks he should get a COVID test, the plan for the day–and the week and the weekend–changes. We are more than grateful that my husband’s test came back negative last week. But until we knew those results, we took one unknown “next” at a time and tried to be content with temporary solutions.
What’s next? is also an other-worldly question with a permanent, eternal answer. All of us ask, at some point in our earthly lives, what happens after this earthly life. How we answer that question–and we do think we all know the right answer–determines what our next earthly What’s next? might be. Because it does depend who is being asked.
I can ask myself–as I did last week–what ought to be canceled in my plan for the day, the week, and the weekend if my husband’s COVID test comes back positive or negative. It was a day-to-day assessment. Each decision affected every person in my house. But, it also affected people we would come into contact with during the week. Depending on who those people are–and their COVID risk-factor–we had to consider how our temporary What’s next? might affect their permanent What’s next?
How I affect someone else’s earthly What’s next? may only be an inconvenience. But, how I affect someone else’s eternal What’s next? That answer has far more implications.
My guess is that if we’ve asked the earthly What next? on an almost-daily basis since the first stay-at-home order, we probably have asked the other-wordly What’s next? at some point. I know, I know. We all think we know the right answer. We are probably all saying it in our minds right now and maybe considering what others might say. But, in answering that question right now, are we content with the lasting results?
For myself, yes. I am content with the lasting results because I believe in the eternal salvation of Jesus Christ. For me, that is the ultimate vaccination for withstanding all the ills and suffering of this world. I won’t ever have to experience the pain I’ve experienced here when I get there.
So, what if my What’s next? is COVID? I’d rather not have it. But, I figure I live through it either way.
For others, am I content with the last results of their eternal What’s next? Should it even be a concern for me? Well, if I believed that nothing happens after this life, I might not care. But, I do believe something happens. Something far better happens. So, what if I get COVID and I pass that on to someone who thinks there is no What’s next? after this What’s next? If I know there is an ultimate vaccination for the permanent, eternal What’s next?, shouldn’t I tell people about it? Whether I have COVID or not, shouldn’t I tell them just in case? It’s not up to me if they accept the opportunity to have this vaccination. But, shouldn’t I at least say something?
Oh, right. I just did. But, I’ll repeat myself anyway. If the media seems to think we need to hear the bad news over and over again, I might as well mention the good news one more time.
The ultimate vaccination for withstanding all the ills and suffering of this world is believing in the eternal salvation of Jesus Christ.
Take or leave it. All or nothing. But, know–and believe–this for certain. His vaccination is guaranteed. We may not know the answer to our earthly What next? for today, but we can know the answer to our eternal What’s next? today.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.Ephesians 1:3-14 NIV