Many years ago I read a story by Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Church. He was talking about wanting to make some changes in his career. He was unsure of moving forward in an opportunity that he felt called to. He felt called to the opportunity, but it was not without risk and challenge. Evidently, daunting risk and challenge.
He was spending time worrying, which Jesus explicitly expresses that we not do in what I have named the “worry verses” of Matthew 6:26-34. He was also planning for options and back-up plans if this calling didn’t work out. You can assume in this story that calling was from God.
Is It Faith if We Have a Plan B?
He referenced the Bible verses of 2 Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on your will be at war.”
In this verse, Hanani the seer came to tell King Asa what his future was, not that he relied on a neighboring King and not God.
Hybel went on to write of his subsequent conviction that if his heart was truly for God, he didn’t need a plan B. He needed to trust that if God was calling him to this opportunity, even if it was difficult, it was where he was supposed to be. He needed to trust if a plan B was required, God would supply it at the right time.
I think about this story often. It was a big motivator in my decision to leave the business world and focus on raising my family and getting my licensure in counseling.
These changes in my life were also fraught with uncertainty. Financial risk, identity change, and a concern that I may die of boredom were ahead of me. What would be my plan B if these challenges proved too much?
Trusting That God Has a Path and a Calling For Us All
When I read Hybel’s devotional, perfectly placed in this decision-making time frame, I knew I wasn’t supposed to have a plan B. I felt a strong calling to these significant changes in my life. I knew it was from God because it wasn’t a plan I ever had for my life. I needed to trust Him and follow Him to His path for my life and career.
I had to let go of the typical time constraints we put on ourselves to achieve goals and focus more on moving in the direction He was calling me to. There was no question I was traveling out of my type-A, control-freak, comfort zone.
God’s Timing Is Perfect
As I let go of the worry and focused on the path, God opened doors all along the way. As I learned to be patient with timing, His timing showed a trail of its perfection. It also built my faith and trust in Him. Yes, I stepped out in faith to start the journey, but it was still with concern and trepidation. It wasn’t until I was in it without a safety net that my faith in His plan and path grew.
How Do We Know If We Are Creating a Plan B?
How do we know if we are creating a plan B, or merely using the wisdom, gifts and experiences God has provided to create a successful path? There are so many crossroads in our path of life that it is not always so clear, if and when we may be falling in to a trap of creating a plan B of our own, rather than trusting God.
What I mean is that we all make decisions and plans each day. In my job, I may have alternative options to choose from if my initial decision doesn’t work. I don’t think God feels like having a couple of months of savings in case you lose your job is having a plan B. Hopefully, if I know that traffic patterns in my city can cause delay, God won’t feel like I have a hard heart toward him if I have a few routes to consider as I move towards my destination.
I feel like, and remember this is just my interpretation, not the written scripture, that in these verses God is saying,
- I have a plan for each of my children i.e. A plan to prosper them, not to harm them…Jeremiah 29:11.
- I have asked that each of you take Jesus as your Lord and Savior; meaning trust Him to Lord over your entire life.
- I have given you scripture to communicate the life I want for you and the path I am calling you to in general.
- I have given you the Holy Spirit to direct you and guide you…and yes to call you.
- You can trust these plans and you can trust me, because I am God.
- And I love you.
We Can Trust God’s Path For Us
Therefore, if we feel the Holy Spirit leading us in a direction, we need to step out in faith and follow. We need to keep following even when things get tough or seem more difficult. We need to persevere on this path, because if it is God’s plan for us, it is the best path for us, bar none.
If we move forward, and immediately retreat when things get difficult, that is not trusting God.
If we move forward, and an easier path pops up amongst the current difficulties, taking us off course, we are choosing plan B.
If we never fully commit to God’s calling and only half-heartedly execute, we lack faith. (probably in God and ourselves)
Again, how do we know if we are choosing plan B or simply making prudent plans?
The Answer Is Always in Our Heart
I think the answer to this can be found in our heart. Do we have generalized fear along the way even when logically nothing has happened to cause it? Are we adjusting our path at the first sign of difficulty? Is our heart defeated and hurting when we shift gears, because we feel we are abandoning our calling?
These are the feelings of choosing plan B over God’s plan.
If we take a detour to avoid traffic, our heart doesn’t ache.
If we plan adjustments to our business budget to remain good stewards of the resources God has gifted us with, this seems like it glorifies God.
If we are honest with ourselves, we can usually tell the difference between shifting plans or direction based on God’s leading compared to our anxiety-driven, control-based, have-to make-something-happen-yesterday plan B. Right?
Where are you on the path? Are you following God with your whole heart and mind? Or, are you holding back just in case His plan has some turbulence and unpleasantness, ready to shift in to manual control?