One of my favorite words is next. The word next points to the future, but not too far into the future. Next is near-future. “So, what’s next?” someone might ask after your new novel has been published or your kitchen renovation is done, assuming that next will shortly follow now. When we ask what’s next, we often mean next in time. Our use of the word next is hopeful—there is something to follow. “Better luck next time,” we assure people. When there is no next, a life has ended.
The word next always implies a relationship. Next denotes connections, ties, or binds. When you are next in line, the word connects you to the person behind and in front of you. In royal terms, Prince William is next in line to the British throne after Charles. You can sit next to the guy you like in the cafeteria. Your existence is in relationship to something or someone else. Next links us together.
The word next often appears on our computers. If you order something online from a retail website, you will be led through a number of steps wherein you will be asked to click a “Next” box at the bottom right corner of your computer screen. When you get to the end, you will usually be asked to click “Done” or “Finish.” I don’t know about you, but I always love this process—it gives me a feeling of accomplishment to graduate to whatever level is next. On computers and in life, we’re in a constant state of next—next week, next year, next level, next job.
When you think about it, the Bible is a series of next click boxes. Were you to read the Bible in a single sitting, you would see the intricate connections and the progression of God’s story from the Creation in Genesis to the Exodus of the Israelites to the birth and resurrection of Christ to the present day. The hopeful message of the Bible is that there is always a next. The prophets continually foretold the coming of Christ. The prophets were next-agents. You and I are intricate parts of the continuing story of next. Jesus was resurrected and then ascended into heaven. What came next is the ongoing story of the Holy Spirit working within you and me as we look forward to the next coming of Jesus. We are called to be next-agents to those around us as we look forward to Christ’s return.
For Christians, there is a next even after death. Because we believe, our next life will be lived in eternity with our Father in heaven.
If you are an unbeliever who happened upon this article and who wants to know more about Jesus, feel free to contact me if you’re willing to take the next step in your spiritual journey. Or find a Bible and begin reading the Good News of Jesus Christ for yourself. A good start to learning how you can be saved is to read what has been called “The Roman Road,” a next-step guide from the book of Romans that outlines the road to salvation. Here is a link to the New Living Translation’s version of the “Roman Road.”
To end our time today, listen to this song by Christian artist Melissa Green, titled “Next Step.”
Ron DeBoer is a writer and high school vice-principal living in the Waterloo region. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.