The end of the school year is a time of transitions and choices. We ask, “what are your summer plans?” One of the main questions people ask graduates is, “what are you going to do next?” We are curious and care for one another and want to join in the anticipation of the next chapter of life. We want to know what career will be pursued and where they will be. Will they be close or far? Will they be somewhere we’ve been, maybe by people we know? We hope so. We hope they will head in a direction we are excited about for them. We often want to get the scoop on the lives of those we care about and it’s a good thing to do. But we could ask it further with them and we should ask it more frequently of ourselves. This critical two-word question should be asked over and over again to help us write our stories, chart our courses and have a life worthy of applause as one of our Adventist pioneers did.
Following is an excerpt from Adventist Pioneer Places by Merlin D. Burt (pages 98-100) where he quotes Eugene Farnsworth about an interaction between him and the brilliant J. N. Andrews:
When Elder Andrews came, I was out in the field hoeing corn. I looked up and saw him coming. I was rather timid those days, and I never got near enough to a preacher to let him speak to me. When one came to the house, I found my place out in the barn among the cattle and sheep. As Elder Andrews came toward me, he took a hoe off the gate near where I was working, and I said to myself, “What in the world will that fellow do now?” He came along and began to hoe corn. I could see that he didn’t know a thing about hoeing corn….
Finally, he said, “Eugene, what is your purpose in life?”
I liked his frank way of speaking, and I said, “Elder Andrews, I am going to be a lawyer.”
“Well, sir,” he said, “you might do a good deal worse.”…If he had something directly against my plans, my opposition would have been up. “But,” he continued, “what are you going to do before you are a lawyer?”
“I am going to go to school until I get an education.”
“What will you do then?”
“I am going to study law.”
“Yes, and what next?” He said.
“Well,” I said, “I hope I will practice.”
“And what next?”
“I hope to earn some money and get a competency, get a home, and have a family.”
“Yes, and what next?”
I began to grow nervous. I didn’t like the way he was crowding me into that corner, for I saw that he was… “Well,” I said, “ I suppose I shall die.”
And again he said, “What next?”
I tell you that great good man had driven me to the end of my chain. Those words stuck in my memory. Then, with his great blue eyes looking straight through me, he said, “My boy, you take hold of something that will help you to span the chasm, something that will land your feet safely on the other side, where you will be safe for eternity.” I have honored elder Andrews all the days of my life.
Two words asked over and over again put young Eugene’s life into perspective, “What next?”.
I hope our graduates will ask themselves this question until they are at the end of their chain. I hope we all will, and in the light of the way our lives would end if it were not for Jesus, I hope we will all choose to link ourselves to Him. He will give us eternal life that doesn't just change our end, but will rewire us and rewrite our story in this life starting now.
What next? May it be Jesus. Always Jesus. Step by step He will be with you to strengthen you through the green pastures and the valley of the shadow of death, as Psalm 23 puts it. He will guide your path to the heavenly home He’s prepared for you, and as you ask this question of others, may many join you on your journey to your eternal home with our Creator and Savior and soon returning King.