A few weeks ago I had the honor of serving the Norwood family through leading the memorial service for Taylor Norwood. That day, in the midst of tragedy and loss, 25 people made a public confession of faith in Jesus Christ.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” – Genesis 50
After a number of conversations days after the service, I felt the prompting to share excerpts from that message …
“The camp of WHAT IF & the camp of WHAT NOW”
We’ve attended memorial services just like this and I’ve witnessed two camps or schools of thought conveyed in the time of despair. These camps are worlds apart and operate under different mandates.
The camp of WHAT IF
The camp of WHAT IF breeds remorse, regret, guilt, shame and chaos. We may have daily feelings of it, but it’s magnified in moments like these and in times of loss.
This camp begs the question ‘WHAT IF’ …
What if I did something different?
What if I said something?
What if I intervened?
What if I hadn’t said what I said?
What if I hadn’t gone to this place?
What if I hadn’t made that introduction?
What if? What if? What if?
That’s how that camp operates. This camp keeps you in a perpetual cycle of rehearsing and reliving the past as well keeping you in a spin cycle of chaos.
In contrast there is …
The camp of WHAT NOW
This camp breeds love, joy, peace, comfort, identity and purpose.
Now THIS camp begs the question, WHAT NOW? That’s how THIS camp operates. It keeps us looking ahead and actually encourages to forget the bad and focus on the good.
Although these two camps are worlds apart they have a certain similarity. Both camps actively and relentlessly pursue you.
One camp is run by Satan, the enemy, the defeated, the created.
One camp is run by Jesus … the way, the truth, the life, the Creator.
A dose of TRUTH
At a moment in time, you were conceived and you breathed your first breath. Even before you were conceived, He (God) had you in mind.
How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. -Ephesians 1
Remember the two camps? The camp of WHAT IF and the camp of WHAT NOW?
The moment you were conceived you became a threat. What. If. The enemy asks the very question of the nature of his camp.
What if you got wind of the truth?
What if you caught wind of your purpose?
What if you got wind of God’s plan for your life?
What if what if what if and the very nature of the camp rolls into existence over your life.
So they enemy keeps us in fear, he keeps us insecure, he keeps us defeated, he keeps us defeated, he keeps us weak, he keeps us in chaos. He’s bent on stealing, killing and destroying your life.
A second dose of TRUTH
As of the result of our sin nature, when we start of in this life, our propensity to defy God is already in us because of what happened at the beginning of time. Adam and Eve messed this up. God had a plan, we messed it up. But as we are introduced to the truth, we are introduced to the question of the camp that says “What now”.
If the characteristics of that camp are true … there is purpose, there is life, there is a plan, there is peace, there is joy and it’s not only preparing our lives for eternity in heaven, but also living what the Bible calls “abundant life” here on Earth.
The Bible actually says …
This is what God says,
the God who builds a road right through the ocean,
who carves a path through pounding waves,
The God who summons horses and chariots and armies—
they lie down and then can’t get up;
they’re snuffed out like so many candles:
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. – Isaiah 43
So, you are presented with a choice. What if? What now?
At a moment in my life I recognized that I needed this Jesus. I needed to leave my sin, my shame, my regret, my addiction, my past and embrace the WHAT NOW. I had to embrace that God has a plan and I was going to walk in the camp of the what now.
Like I said when we started, a mom and a dad aren’t supposed to bury their child. What are we going to do now. We are going to depend on a God who has made His peace and comfort available to us.
In just a moment, I’m going to pray and ask for anyone who wants to be included in that prayer. Pastor Andrew what’s going to happen if I try and I fail?
Again, that’s the WHAT IF … Let’s embrace the WHAT NOW.
He’s a God of forgiveness and unconditional love. What now? We are going to stand back up and grow from it. What if I fail again? Not what if … we are saying what now. We will stand up again.
We need a starting point in the midst of despair. There is hope. Base Camp is where it starts. Base Camp has a name. That name is the camp of WHAT NOW. That camp has one person in charge. That person is Jesus. Let me know if you need to return to Base Camp. There’s room for one more.