Embracing Plan B

By nature I am a planner. I plan everything. And then I re-plan. I probably spend 90 percent of my time thinking about the future and planning for it. I consider my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. I anticipate problems and consider contingencies. I have a Plan A.

But, unfortunately, Plan A rarely happens. When it does, it is awesome. But for me, Plan B is usually the norm. Like an old friend of mine used to say, “Do-do occurs.”

For example, a while back I was sitting in the Delta Crown Room in Nashville. My flight to Dallas had been cancelled because of ice in Dallas. I was scheduled on the next flight out, but I had a three-hour wait. Waiting is not one of my favorite things.

The funny thing was that I was on my way to have dinner with my friend, John Eldredge, who at the time was a Thomas Nelson author. We had had a difficult time getting together. Just the previous fall, we were supposed to go fly fishing together—just the two of us. I had eagerly anticipated the trip for months.

But, two days before the trip, I got a call from John’s agent. He told me that John had been thrown from a horse and knocked out. Worse, he had broken both wrists. Obviously, we had to scuttle the trip.

So, once John was better, we regrouped and rescheduled. Rather than wait for the weather to get warm enough to fish, we decided to get together for dinner with our wives. What could possibly go wrong?

So I made reservations at the Black Bear Restaurant just outside of Colorado Springs. This is one of my all-time favorite restaurants. Gail flew up a few days early to spend time with my oldest daughter who, at the time, was living in Colorado.

I called Gail that morning before I left. My plan was to arrive in the Springs at 2:40 p.m. “I’ll call you when I land,” I promised. “Let’s plan to meet at the hotel and then drive to the restaurant together. We’ll have plenty of time.”

I arrived at the Nashville airport a full hour before my 10:40 a.m. flight. I then proceeded to check in. It was only then that I learned my flight had been cancelled.

“Can you book me on another carrier?” I pleaded with the agent.

“Nope. Everything is booked solid into Colorado Springs and Denver,” she responded.

“Bummer,” I sighed. “I have a 7:00 p.m. dinner reservation.”

She put me on the standby list for a flight that wouldn’t get me in to Colorado Springs until 6:15 p.m. The restaurant was another forty-five minutes from the airport—assuming the roads were clear. And, of course, it is snowing in Colorado Springs.

When I was younger, this would have stressed me out. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. I was. But I definitely wasn’t stressed. I thanked the agent and began to wonder what kind of adventure awaited me.

Over the years, I have learned that my Plan B is often God’s Plan A. Nothing happens by accident. To quote Richard Rohr, “everything belongs.”

I think Plan B is God’s way of reminding me that He’s in charge. And, frankly, it’s better that way. I don’t care how hard I plan, I can’t anticipate everything. Nor do I always know what’s best. But He does.

In God’s economy there is no Plan B. He is sovereign. As difficult as things get—as chaotic as they may appear—He only has Plan A. And, quite frankly, I’m content to rest in that. I may not understand all the reasons, but I am content to rest in His Providence and enjoy the adventure.

And, as it turned out, I got on the flight, and we arrived early into Colorado Springs. I picked up Gail and drove to the restaurant. The roads were clear and we made better time than I anticipated. We arrived at exactly 7:00 p.m.

By the way, my friend Pete Wilson has written an entire book called Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn’t Show Up the Way You Thought He Would?. This is a beautiful book that I heartily recommend.

Question: How do you respond when Plan A comes unraveled?

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