Plan B’s Are Okay
“When God’s first plan doesn’t seem to work out”
A number of years ago when I was a youth pastor in the Bay area of California, best I had the opportunity to minister to many young people with varying backgrounds. Not all of my high school students came from well-adjusted homes; some grew up in broken homes where the father had abandoned the family.
Ted was one of those high students in my youth group who was abandoned by his father and seemingly never got over it. The desertion of his father caused Ted to continually struggle, best even though God supplied him with loving adoptive parents, and many faithful friends in our youth group. For Ted, God’s alternate rescue plan (“Plan B”) did not satisfy him. What Ted did not understand was that historically God’s “Plan B” was the rescue effort He was compelled to use in almost every generation due to the dominating presence and devastation of sin. The implementation of “Plan B” (God’s rescue arrangement) actually began in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were intended to live out their entire lives in the presence of God, without the presence of sin (“Plan A or God’s intended will”). Yet when Adam and Eve chose sin, God immediately responded with “Plan B” which was an amazing salvage effort that would not only rescue them but everyone who would ever be born (Genesis: 14-15). ” Plan B” was unparalleled because it involved the incredible sacrifice of His Son on a torturous cross, a lengthy passage of time before the plan was completed, and man’s continuous opportunity to accept “Plan B” throughout every age (Romans 5:14-16, 2 Cor. 5:14-15). “Plan B” pays the price for everyone’s sin (Romans 3:23); the only thing blocking it is individual response. God does not force any of us to accept His plan; He only draws us to it (John 6:44). God in His predestined plan does not make us choose it; He created us with the freedom to choose, whether good or bad. (Romans 8:29-30, Romans 10:9, 10, 14).
“Plan B” (God’s rescue effort) for Ted’s life did not impact him until one memorable summer weekend with our youth group in Yosemite Valley, California. During the course of our retreat, God really spoke to Ted in a way that changed his thinking forever about God’s “Plan B”. In preparation for the Saturday morning devotion, I gathered over 150 teenagers together for a time of worshipful singing. After we finished, I instructed them to find a place in the meadow for a time of quiet devotion. I asked each to read one of the Psalms and be prepared to share with the group what God had revealed to them when we returned for the concluding session. I told them to pick the Psalm that represented most closely the day on which they were born. As an example, February 7th (2nd month, 7th day) could be Psalm 2:7. After about 30 minutes, each of the students began to make their way back to our gathering. The sharing was rich as each student had a lot to say, but Ted’s comments spoke to all of us the loudest that day. He told us that at first he had no intention of reading any Psalm, but the curiosity of which Psalm represented his birthday got to him. As Ted stated that morning, “When I read the Psalm of my birthday, I could only cry tears of joy. The great burden of being without a father was taken from me, because of what I felt the Lord said to me in that Psalm.” Then Ted read to us Palm 2:7, “I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord; He said to Me, Thou art My Son…” Ted was never the same after that day; “Plan B” in his life was satisfying.
In this Teachable Moment take your children to a near by park, an area where there is a river or creek. Pick one if possible with at least two bridges crossing it. When I was in Boise, the main river going through town had a number of bridges to cross
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. In fact one was under construction when writing this article, which was perfect for this illustration. If you don’t have such a situation then you may have to improvise, pretend if need be. Cross the alternative bridge with your children and sit down and talk about what you did. Tell them about the alternate bridge God provided for Adam and Eve when they sinned. And even pick other passages in Scripture where God provided an alternative for His people, whether they sinned or not. Then share with them a time in your life where God picked an alternate plan for you one that ended up to the best as you look back. The big thought is that God always provides a way, through every circumstance or problem in life. He can even make the worst of situations into the best as He did with Ted.
Then for fun have your children pick a Psalm close to their birthday. . See if there might be a personal lesson in it for them from God. If not, then just end on Ted’s story.
Word of God
Genesis 3: 14-15 14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go, And dust you will eat all the days of your life; 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.*(In respect to other fulfilled events listed throughout the Bible, especially in the New Testament, here is my interpretation of this Genesis prediction).And God said to Satan after he fooled Adam and Eve with sin, “I will go to war with you over my creation. I will put a barrier between you and My own Son, whom is willing to enter the human race in order to save everyone who was ever born from their sins. I will make war against you; a war I intend to win. I will put an immeasurable distance between your followers and my Son’s. But before victory is achieved, I will let you hurt Him in any way you can, but once He dies on the cross, your domination over this world is at an end. Your plans to steal my creation will be destroyed at the cross, because man’s sins are the only thing that keeps him from Me. After the cross, nothing can keep all of my creation out of the kingdom except their own decision not to repent and accept My forgiveness. Those who do will be with me forever, those who don’t are yours.
Romans 5:14-16 14 Nevertheless deaths reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification.
2 Cor. 5:14-15 14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.
Romans 3: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
John 6: 44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
Romans 8:29-30 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
Romans 10: 9, 10, 14 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?