What’s Next?

B.J. Funk

B.J. Funk

By B.J. Funk –

Actor Robert De Niro’s recent graduation address at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts was packed with several truths. Absent were the Pollyanna sunshine and rainbow view of life after graduation. There was no hint of Que Sera, whatever will be will be. He gave little encouragement but brought forth a speech that likely held everyone’s attention.

Moving right into reality and away from pie in the sky mentality, DeNiro said, “A new door is opening for you — a door to a lifetime of rejection. It’s inevitable.”

For real? A graduation speech that does not paint a rosy picture of the future? Where is the “All doors will now be open to you” line? He continued, “Did you get straight A’s in school? If you did, good for you. But, in the real world, you’ll never get straight A’s again.”

Seriously? Isn’t that a bit harsh?

“There will be times when your best isn’t good enough. There can be many reasons for that, but as long as you give your best, It’s okay.” He encouraged the graduates not to be distracted by the judgments of others.

DeNiro suggested a mantra for the new graduates. Next, a word to be shouted when you don’t get that part you wanted or you don’t get the job you were sure you would get. I believe Next would be the right word to hold onto after a period of pain over the loss of someone you loved. There is a time for mourning, a season for grief. However, eventually, if we don’t find our forward Next, we will tumble backward into even more discouragement and pain. Next is our decision to live again.

Who among us has not felt defeat, loneliness or heartache? Next stands beside us on the bottom step of a tall staircase and shouts for us not to stay where things did not work out, but to take the next step up. No matter how difficult it might be, or how many obstacles appear in your path, choose Next and march proudly forward.  Learn from your failures, and then let them go.

I think this is a message especially for those of us trying to live our lives for Christ in this sin-rotten world — this world that God loves. We, too, need a word to shout when life doesn’t go the way we had hope, when tears stain our pillow at night and when rejection forces its way into our heart. Christians should be the leaders proclaiming Next as we refuse to settle our tears and our brokenness on that bottom step and instead walk up the staircase, looking for Next.

Amy Carmichael, a missionary who served 55 years without furlough in India, opened an orphanage there. She was injured in a fall and was bedridden for most of the last 20 years of her life. She looked for Next and found it, starting a book writing ministry and still caring for the administrative duties of her orphanage, all the while confined to bed.

Joni Erickson Tada lost the use of her body when she broke her neck in a diving accident in her late teens. She has blessed us all because she chose not to stay on the bottom step of life. Instead she found her Next, painting pictures with a paintbrush between her teeth, writing books, speaking and gaining a world-wide ministry of encouragement.

Nick Vujicic was born with a rare disorder characterized by the absence of all four limbs. Struggling with life in his early years, Nick came to terms with his disability in his teens and began his own ministry of hope. Nick refused to lie down on that first huge step of discouragement. Instead, he passed over defeat and found Next. As a believer in miracles, he even keeps a pair of shoes in his closet. The ultimate Next.

What if Job had not found Next? He lost everything, but the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. What if Jesus refused to say Next after he was condemned to death. We would know nothing of salvation or life after death.

God is not finished with you. The evil one would have you believe that there is no Next for you. He’s a liar.

Whatever you are discouraged about, whatever heartache you know, stretch out your hand to the only One who can pull you forth — out of wrong decisions, out of misspoken words, out of dark mistakes — Jesus the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Your forever Next.


  1. Dave Visaggio says

    Very powerful, inspirational,comforting article by BJ Funk. An excellent sequel from her June/July article ” The God who changes our plans “Keep up the great work, I’ll be sure to share this article with others

    Regards, Dave Visaggio

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