In praise of plans B … C … D …
In praise of plans B … C … D …
In an episode of the radio program, This American Life, producer Ira Glass tells the story of asking a room of about 100 people “How many of you [in your life] are still on ‘Plan A’?” Everyone in the room, except one person, raised their hand. At 23, she was also the youngest one there.
You probably have your own “Plan B” stories. These are occasions, large or small, when the original plan just didn’t work out and you were forced to look for an alternative. The ability to find and work “Plan B” is often called “resilience.” Christianity doesn’t have a corner on resilience. Indeed plenty of people from all sorts of religious traditions, or none at all, exhibit a healthy resilience in life. The centrally important Christian idea of redemption does, however, have strong resonance with the character of resilience.
Every now and then —usually with the gift of hindsight— Plan B shows itself to be more wonderful than what we’d first intended. But most of the time, we’re stuck with Plan B and a lingering sense of disappointment. We prefer things to work out the way we intended. We prefer things to go according to plan. We hate it when our plans don’t come together. There is a reason it’s called plan “B.” A “B” is not as good as an “A,” or so it would seem.
“How can I redeem this situation that’s gotten all messed up?” That’s the question that resilient people ask themselves. The language is striking in its similarity to the Gospel. The work of Jesus is that of the redeemer. Jesus’ incarnation, his coming to be with us in the midst of all that’s good and bad about human life, is a working out of a divinely initiated “Plan B.” After all, the original intent was for humans to live in an abiding relationship with their creator, a relationship that was broken by sin. While the initial created order is a fabulous expression of divine creativity, the impetus to redeem it pushes the bounds of that creative drive to new heights. “How will we redeem this mess?” the Godhead asks themselves. “We will buy it back. We will buy back life with life.” And so it goes, the cross is a profoundly grave, beautifully conceived, expression of “Plan B.”
Like all of you, I like to have things go my way. But more and more, I’m beginning to recognize those many times when they don’t to be occasions that invite unexpected creativity and opportunities to participate in an echo of the higher, wider and deeper work of redemption initiated and completed by Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection.
There’s always “Plan B.” Thank God.
Pastor Jim and Deaconess Kristin take turns writing weekly devotions for the Chapel of the Resurrection. Contact them here:
- Archives of Devotional Writings from our Pastoral Staff
- “Some Lent!”
- (Your vocation here) of people
- A Point of Privilege
- A season of anticipation
- Advent = Hope
- All will be well
- Are we willing to cross the road for one another?
- Better Together
- Can we learn to be happy?
- Carrying the COVID Cross
- Come and See
- Did Jesus really suffer?
- Doing without in a life of plenty
- Don’t miss this moment
- Exiles with Vision
- Fear not!
- Feeling at Home
- Finding Purpose in the Journey
- Finding Words for Times Like These
- Forgiving others – and ourselves
- Getting ahead with Jesus
- Getting down on Jesus’ level
- Have yourself a merry little Christmas — somehow
- Holy Week and Taking Out the Trash
- Holy Week: The aid station late in the semester
- Hopes & Dreams vs Life in the Wilderness
- How glad we’ll be if it’s so
- I almost slipped
- In a time of uncertainty, these things are certain
- In praise of plans B … C … D …
- In Praise of Skeptical Disciples
- In the midst of grief, God will bring life
- Is there such a thing as being too forgiving?
- It’s a Three Day Weekend!
- It’s In the Bag
- It’s What’s Happening
- Killing off our future selves
- Lessons in fire building
- Let us work for real wellness in our communities
- Life Is a Highway
- Lilies and leaves and whatever else is beautiful
- Living in the Present
- O Lord, you know I hate buttermilk
- Of Fear and Failure
- On Christian Unity: When we’re not one big happy church
- On the Bucket List
- Pray and Let God Worry
- Preparing for the world to be turned rightside up
- Recovering from an Epic Fail
- Reformation calls for examination
- Remembering among the forgetful
- Seeing beauty in brokenness
- Signs of Love
- Starting Small
- Still in the storm
- Taking a Break from the Relentless
- Talking ourselves into it
- Thankfulness leads to joyfulness
- The Art of Holy Week
- The Funny Business of Forgiveness
- The Greatest of These is Love
- The Magi: Exemplars of Faith and Learning
- The Power of Small Conversations
- The Power of Taking a Sabbath
- The Spiritual Gift of Hindsight
- This can’t be done alone
- To be known
- You will be in our prayers this summer of 2020
- Ventures of which we cannot see the ending
- We had hoped
- What do you do with your anger?
- What is your base reality?
- What to do after you find your voice
- What to do on the day after
- What we know and what we don’t know
- When bad things happen
- When joy and sadness live together
- When the promise of resurrection is hard to believe
- When you offer up your broken cup
- Where God will be found
- Where is the good shepherd carrying you?
- Wilderness Journeys
- Year-end time management: Keeping the main thing the main thing
- Your Valpo roots will help you grow into your future