It seems we have many opportunities every day to ask this question. We’re faced with an opportunity, a challenge, a risk, a leap of faith, an open door and we must ask ourselves…what now? What will I do with what’s been given to me? We make these decisions all day long every day, sometimes without really thinking about it. It could be something trivial like discovering there is no more coffee when you go to the kitchen in the morning. What now? Have a hissy fit or make some tea? It may be something a little more weighty like hearing about a friend who is ill and has a young family to take care of. What now? Go take them some food and babysit their kids, or think to yourself “someone else will help them”? What if your decision affects lots of other people? That adds even more weight still. I think of some well-known leaders in history who made decisions that affected entire countries like Martin Luther King, Jr. who knew the hostilities that flared up when racial equality was championed. As a passion to help bring about change rose up in him he had to ask himself, “What now?” He decided to face hatred, risk injury or worse, and brave fierce opposition because the outcome he dreamed of was worth the cost.
Jesus said we should count the cost before we decide to follow Him. He also said He could guarantee there would be trouble along the way. It costs to follow Him and live for Him, but it’s worth every bead of sweat, every tear, every desperate prayer, every effort to keep walking forward in faith. Along the way there are times when we see more of Him and it blows us away. It spurs us on, energizes and impels us. Those glimpses of his power, love and glory restore us and bring healing. When that happens we ask ourselves, “what now?” Do I tell someone else about this?
There’s a story in the Old Testament of four lepers living outside the city walls in a time of famine. They dared not go into the city and feared venturing away from it because an enemy king and his troops had surrounded and encamped nearby. They were so hungry and desperate they decided at sundown to go to the camp and when they got there were surprised to find it deserted. The king and his troops had gotten confused and abandoned the camp in a panic. The lepers discovered piles of gold and silver, bundles of clothing and baskets of food! Loads of everything. They must have thought to themselves, “What now??” They feasted and celebrated, even took away and hid some of the loot. Then they thought of the people starving back within the walls of their city and said to each other, “What are we doing? We can’t just keep having a party while they die? We have to tell them!” And they did. It was risky since they were unclean and the people might think something was fishy, but they knew they had to share their wonderful discovery.
In the Christmas story, all the characters had “what now” moments. Mary was the first and she chose to obey God, even though she didn’t know what would happen. Joseph was next. Dishonored and furious to first hear that his betrothed had gotten herself pregnant, he had to decide what to do with the big mess they found themselves in. He chose to obey God, too, after hearing from Him in a dream. They both must have had at least a few moments of time to count the cost of going through with it all. For her entire pregnancy they’d be looked down upon by their community, whispered about, and maybe ridiculed or shunned. What if they had each said “No”? Their “yes” impacted all of mankind!
The shepherds were next. They looked at each other wide-eyed and baffled after witnessing the most breathtaking and glorious concert of all time – in the sky! – in honor of who the angels said was their Messiah, just born nearby. They asked each other, “What now??” and decided “Let’s go!” They chose to believe what they heard and found it to be true. Then they had to decide what to do from that moment. Should they just go back into the hills with their flocks and talk about what they had seen that night? Or should they tell other people of their firsthand, front row seat to an unprecedented, life-changing miracle? They chose to tell people, running from house to house, exclaiming excitedly about the glimpse they’d been given of the Savior, the baby Jesus.
Watch and listen for those moments as you walk along when God will present you with a decision to make or an opportunity to share good news with someone who needs it more than anything. He’ll lean in close and ask you, “What now?” How will you answer?