Author: Tacy Nichols

As I have gotten older, the importance of preparation has become clearer. Whether it be in business or life, what leads up to an event often tells the story of the results. And more often than not, we are tempted to look back in dismay at the lack of perfection. “What if I had done [fill in the blank…]?” Unfortunately, as much as we may try, there are a couple of life’s milestones for which are practically impossible to prepare. One of those moments is death—whether it be a loved one or oneself. We’ve read books and watched films that give us a small taste of that gut-wrenching feeling; but it’s never real until it happens.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of supporting a client and friend in—what I can only imagine—is the most difficult time she and her family has ever had to experience. It was with a heavy heart that I attended Gregory Stevenson Nesbitt’s memorial service after his long battle with cancer. I was blessed enough to have crossed paths with the Nesbitts when they bought their home, and it is a testament to his strength that I never even realized how sick Greg really was. 

Sitting in Revival Church, I listened as Pastor Edwards opened up his Bible to John, chapter eleven. He began telling the story of Lazarus and what happened after his death. Before finishing his point, though, Pastor Edwards said something that caught my ear. He said, “The word ‘if’ is hurtful. ‘If’ represents the past; it looks back. However, ‘Lord’ and ‘faith’ look up or forward.” Immediately, I could feel my eyes tightening as I became more intrigued. What did he mean?

As I tried to grasp Pastor Edwards’ point, I rattled off an example in my head: “If I had just done…” Wow, I immediately felt the negativity. Out of instinct, I grabbed the handout that I received at the door and jotted down a few scribbles. I definitely was not planning on taking notes, considering the occasion. However, I definitely could feel the weight of the pastor’s words, and I wanted to make sure that I captured a way to look back at them. Suddenly, his voice caught my attention again as he continued.

When Lazarus passed, his sisters, Mary and Martha, immediately blamed Jesus: “If you had been there, my brother would not have died.” That first word leads the entire statement into a connotation of despair. Empathetically, Mary and Martha were frustrated. They had just lost their brother, and they knew that Jesus could have saved his life. This tough experience became the basis for our lesson, though. What was that “if” going to accomplish? The event already occurred. Jesus answered them with a question of their faith as he replied, “The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” His point was clear: have faith in God’s plan. It’s not always going to be easy, and it may not make a whole lot of sense at the time. However, the only thing that will keep you from moving forward is looking back.

As I started reflecting, I thought about times in which I’ve used the word “if”. I thought about the damage that I did to my own psyche and to those that became victims of my blame. I thought about the potential impact that those moments had on the people around me. How do I structure my thoughts to no longer try to reconstruct the past but to respond in the present? The answer: look up.

The moment I received word from Greg’s wife, Lisa, I was devastated. It’s just one of those moments that you can’t really prepare for from any angle. However, I was so blessed to be invited to attend the service and hear the stories of how Greg lived for the Lord and positively impacted so many individuals. It is evident that God has his plans, and one of them was to fill a church so that Greg could teach one more lifelong lesson.