Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Why Plan B Must No Longer Be An Option

We are a nation and culture of “Plan B” kind of people. We live as though there is always a backup plan. In fact, we love backup plans so much, we often create a backup plan to the backup plan. We like to reserve a few extra options in the back of our minds that if Plan A doesn’t work out, well, there’s always Plan B.

Every smart bride who has an outdoor wedding as Plan A also selects an indoor location for Plan B, in the event of rain or some other unwelcome weather. Football teams keep second and third string quarterbacks on the sidelines so that if their Plan A quarterback gets walloped, well, there’s always the Plan B quarterback. Some people keep a “rainy day” savings account; you know, that extra stash of money that gets set aside so that if life should throw a curve ball, you’re prepared. “Rainy day” savings account is still code for Plan B.

For so long in my own life, I made one excuse after another to not physically exercise or be active. Lazy. Indifferent. Uninterested. Didn’t like sweating. Didn’t want to pay for a gym membership. Didn’t care. Didn’t have time for it. Plan A would have simply been to make working out a priority so that I could be healthy, but instead I came up with one Plan B after another. Other options simply took precedent. There were also Plans C, D, and E. It was easy for me to shrug my shoulders and say, “I just don’t like working out so I’m not going to.”

For some people, though, we walk through life with more significant Plan B’s, which carry far more weight. Don’t like your marriage? There’s always divorce. Hate your job? You can always quit. Don’t like what the pastor preached this week at church? You can always find somewhere else to go. Tired of riding the bench while everyone else gets plenty of playing time? You can always throw in the towel. Don’t have the cash to buy something but you really, really want it? You can always swipe that little piece of plastic called a credit card.

Can there be legitimate causes for the above Plan B decisions? Yes. There are some jobs we need to leave and some relationships we need to exit. I’m not addressing those kinds of scenarios. I’m talking about the scenarios when we simply take the easy way out because it just got too hard. I’m talking about the scenarios when we decided that Plan A was no longer worth fighting for because Plan B simply looked that much more appealing and seemed that much easier, and because, quite frankly, we just didn’t want to do the hard work to see it that Plan A stayed Plan A.

We’ve got to stop living as though there is always a Plan B. You know all that physical exercise I didn’t like to do? That decision and that lack of discipline resulted in experiencing months of the most excruciating physical pain I have experienced in my life to date. After those health problems, I did a one-eighty, and you better believe my backside has been working out regularly at least a couple times a week, because I realized with stunning clarity that if I never wanted to experience that kind of pain again, I was going to have to do things differently. I couldn’t just keep doing what I had always done. I had to stop living as though there was an alternative option or Plan B.

And here’s why we all have to stop living as though there is a Plan B—God is a God of Plan A.

When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit in the Garden of Eden, God was not suddenly wringing his hands out wondering what on earth he was going to do now that those two had just waved bye-bye to Plan A. He wasn’t racking his brain, scrambling to figure out how to patch up the mess he was now in, and he certainly wasn’t losing sleep at night (not that he would anyway since he doesn’t sleep) trying to sort out how he would redeem what was now broken. He didn’t spend the moments immediately after humans ate what was forbidden, with his palm to his forehead, in a state of distress, thinking, “Well, this is not at all how I planned on this working out. Now what I am going to do?”

From the beginning of time and till the end of time the cross will forever and always stand as Plan A in response to our sin.

Let that settle in for a moment.

The cross was not some cosmic afterthought.

The death of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, was Plan A before sin entered the world, and his death was still Plan A after sin entered the world. John writes in Revelation 13:8,

“All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world” (NIV).

The apostle Peter echoes this idea in 1 Peter 1:18-21,

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.”

Jesus was the lamb slain before the foundation of the world—long before Adam was created, long before Eve ate of the apple, and long before sin entered the picture and ushered in death and destruction. The cross stood as Plan A since before there was time.

And it has been Plan A ever since. The plan of the cross never faltered, never wavered, and was never negotiated in the hope of a better plan. God was not functioning out of the idea he was going to keep the crucifixion and death of his Son in his back pocket just in case things went haywire. They went haywire. He knew they would. And the death and crucifixion were Plan A all along. Sin did not come along and suddenly catch God by surprise or catch him off guard.

But what is to be our response to the weight of this truth?

Our response must be that we need to spend our days making Jesus Plan A in all that we do because he made his atonement for our sins his Plan A. Just as he was chosen before the creation of the world to die for our sins, he chose us to be holy and blameless. Paul declares in Ephesians 1:3-4,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”

He chose us to be holy and blameless, which means we’ve got to decide that knowing and studying and memorizing the Word of God is Plan A, and not Plan B for whenever we feel like. We’ve got to decide that loving, serving and pursuing those around us is Plan A, and not Plan B for when we have the time and energy. We’ve got to decide that time in God’s presence must trump all else as Plan A, and not Plan B for when we happen to find some blank time in our days and in our calendar. We’re not always going to feel like it, we’re not always going to have the energy, and we’re not always going to find blank time.

But Plan A must become non-negotiable and our excuses must fall by the wayside. When it comes to spiritual disciplines, we must rid our vocabulary of phrases like “Plan B,” “someday,” and “eventually.” These words can have no place in our lives if we are to follow hard after Jesus.

When we realize and truly believe that Jesus’s death on the cross was Plan A before the creation of the world, then we have no choice but to make him our Plan A in all that we do.

In the spiritual disciplines of a Christ-follower, Plan B can no longer be an option.

Because Plan B was never an option for God.

Courtney Yantes works as a project manager for a state agency in Ohio that focuses on creating quality lives for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families.  She graduated from William Woods University with a bachelor’s degree in history and a master in business administration.  She is a lover of all things Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Sheldon Vanauken’s A Severe Mercy, and relishes a life free of social media accounts.


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