No one’s life every goes exactly to plan. We all have unrealized dreams, heartbreak, tragic loss, even suffering. As a Christian who trusts in an all powerful, altogether good God, how do you respond? When your life is falling apart, and all your best laid plans have come unravelled, where is God? If you haven’t already experienced this, Pete Wilson is sure you will before it’s over.
When life goes astray and you’re facing difficulty, pain, depression, loss, or tragedy, that’s what Pete calls a Plan B. I struggled with his use of this term for two reasons. First, Plan B sounds like a backup plan to me, but what he’s talking about isn’t a backup plan, it’s the chaos of life spinning out of control. No one plans to lose their child in an auto accident, for their spouse to cheat on them, or to contract a terminal illness, not even as a backup plan. So how can you call that Plan B? What’s worse, and the second reason I struggle with his use of the term, he repeatedly references the passion of Christ (the actual event, not the movie) as “the ultimate Plan B.” No, this wasn’t a backup plan, it was The Plan!
“this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” (Acts 2.23 ESV)
“truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” (Acts 4.27–28 ESV)
See Ephesians 1 for more insight into the plan of God for our salvation, through the shed blood of Christ. God’s plan, from “before the foundation of the world.” (Eph 1:4) It wasn’t Plan B, in the sense of an alternate plan for when Plan A doesn’t work out. It might look that way. It might look like the cross was God’s way of “fixing” something gone horribly wrong. In a way it was. But it was clearly the plan all along. God wasn’t reacting to human sin by coming up with the plan for the cross after the fact. He planned it in advance, because he wanted it to happen. For Jesus, as a man, though, this was a time of great difficulty, pain, sorrow, and suffering. Since this is Pete’s definition of a Plan B, I’ll allow it. I still can’t say I’m happy with that wording though!
If you can move past this redefined use of the term “Plan B,” Pete does have some good wisdom to share. Ultimately though, it’s not the wisdom he shares, but the hope he offers, that make this book worth reading.
When we encounter these terrible circumstances of life, we tend to think God is absent, that he’s abandoned us, or doesn’t care. We assume that God’s love is demonstrated in our circumstances, and that’s just not always the case. We can’t control these times in our life, and we have to trust that God is in control of them, that he is with us. If we judge God’s love and presence in our lives based on our circumstances, then we need to spend some time getting to know Him a bit better.
We must decide if we are going to put our faith in what God does or in who God is. . .our faith must rest on his identity and not necessarily his activity. ¹
Pete admonishes us to worship our Creator, not our circumstances, he exposes possibly idolatry in our lives as we desire the things God can give us more than we desire God himself, he encourages us to seek authentic community with other believers who can say “me too” as we share our pain with each other. He doesn’t offer easy, simplistic answers to difficult questions. He doesn’t have the answers. None of us do. But with a gentle, pastoral hand, Pete guides us to the one place we can find peace amidst the chaos of our Plan B. He guides us to the cross of Jesus, and the hope we have secured for us in eternity through faith in Him.
Instead of an answer, God offers us something better. He offers us a solution. He offers us the cross. ²
I should probably mention that I know Pete. He probably doesn’t remember me, but I attended his church a number of times when it was still a fledging church plant. I went to school with people who were on staff at the church (they’re no longer there), and I met Pete on more than one occasion. A slight familiarity with Pete, his church, and even some of the stories he tells in the book may have given me a bit more empathy than the average reader might have, but no matter who you are, I believe the book will move you, touch your heart, call to mind your own experiences of pain and suffering, and give you hope.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”