Some people think that when you become a Christian your life is going to be perfect — or if not at least perfect, without major trouble or suffering. Of course, the folks who believe that have probably not read the Bible yet nor spent much time studying church history. Christians are not exempt from the troubles and suffering of this world — not at all. We face the same troubles, tribulations and suffering — but we do not do so alone and I think we have a different perspective on it. But it is real.
Part of the idea of PLAN B — which I have written about here and here — is that brokenness, trouble and suffering are realities for all of us. The world is broken and not as it should be. The consequences of SIN have corrupted pretty much every aspect of life. This is the reality we live in. While Christ has victory over all SIN (and sins) and its consequences, we live in the tension of the already and the not yet. Jesus has already defeated sin once and for all; but until His return we will not fully experience that new reality. “PLAN B”, as I call it, is a simple acknowledgment of this tension — and the call to live well in the midst of it.
I think a lot of people who want to deny the reality of PLAN B have simply not experienced the kind of brokenness that many others have. It is far easier to hold up ideals about the perfect marriage — and why divorce is never a Christian option — when your own marriage is really good. But that is not the experience for many people.
So meet some PLAN B people… these are all folks I consider friends, and all devoted followers of Jesus.
- The 30-something wife and mother of two who wakes up one day to discover that her husband has never really loved her and has been having a relationship with another woman at church.
- The 50-something husband who’s wife of 25+ years comes out to him.
- The 50-something wife who has been holding a secret for her whole life — and now has to come out to her husband.
- The couple, who despite everything, simply cannot get pregant.
- The 40-something husband and father of two who knows he is gay but cannot figure out how to tell his wife or what might come next.
- The 20-something guy who is struggling to understand his own sexuality and has pretty much been chased out of his church because of it.
- The young pastor who discovers his wife has had an affair — but is committed to saving the marriage.
- The 50-something couple who discover that their marriage died years ago and that they are making each other miserable.
- The 40-something couple who have been living a sexless mariage resulting from abuse that she experienced years ago; resulting in his porn addiction.
- The 60-something woman who gets the call from her doctor and is told it is cancer.
- The 50-something who shows up at work one day and is told he no longer has a job.
- The 19-year old college student who has to drop out because there is no money to pay tuition.
This list could go on and on. And this list is just random in terms of people I know and am thinking about and praying for this morning.
The PLAN A approach would be to tell them that EVERYTHING WILL WORK OUT, that the MARRIAGE WILL BE SAVED, that SOMEHOW THIS IS ALL GOD’S WILL.
But this, of course, is both a lie and wrong theologically.
In our world, not everything works out, not all relationships can be reconciled, and it is NOT THE CASE EVERYTHING THAT IS, IS HIS WILL.
Because the world is broken and the WORLD IS NOT HOW IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE.
So what do we say to these people?
Do we give up? Give in?
We embrace the reality of PLAN B.
And PLAN B says “given the cards you are dealt, how do you follow Jesus with as much integrity as you possibly can?“
And following Jesus means:
- Choosing joy in all things.
- Praying ceaslessly.
- Loving God and loving our neighbors.
- Praying for and loving our enemies.
- Choosing what is right no matter what the consequence is.
- Trusting God — and His word — above all else.
- Trusting that God works all things for good for those who love him (Rom 8:28)
- Keeping our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.
Plan B is not an excuse from any of these things — but it provides a realistic context for who we live these things out, without being held hostage to some idealized picture of what “the perfect Christian” looks like.
And the answers in Plan B are not easy. A sexless marriage may be the cross one must bare to love their wives as Christ loved the church — and the porn addiction has to go. But figuring out how to live into that reality — as opposed to clinging to some idealized fantasy — is the key to authentically following Jesus.
And here is the trick: AUTHENTICALLY FOLLOWING JESUS is the KEY to discovering HEALING, JOY, LOVE & HOPE. In fact, there is no other pathway that will get you there.
The mystery is that embracing PLAN B allows God to work miracles in a way that clinging to PLAN A might not.
That is my prayer for all those folks above. Each of which I love and respect.
And that is my journey too. I am a PLAN B guy. I would never script my life this way. And part of coming to grips with who I really am and beginning to experience real healing and grace in Christ, was giving up the idealized picture of who I thought I should be, and instead accepting who I actually am — with all my faults, follies and foibles. And all my gifts, charms and passions.
PLAN B has allowed me to be MORE WHO GOD CREATED ME TO BE IN THE MIDST OF A WORLD THAT IS NOT HOW HE INTENDED.
That is the irony, of course. PLAN B — the way of the cross — is the only possible pathway to life.
PLAN A existed in Eden. It also failed.
PLAN B is the result of the fall. Yet in Christ, ultimately will return us to Eden… a new Jerusalem… a renewed reality.
PLAN A relied on our pure obedience. PLAN B relies on HIS.
PLAN A relied on our goodness and righteousness. PLAN B relies on HIS.
PLAN A relied on us. PLAN B relies on HIM.
Given the choice, I’ll trust in PLAN B every time.
I will trust in HIM.
And that is why all the trouble and tribulation in the world never leads us to despair — because HE IS OUR HOPE.
So WELCOME TO PLAN B.