This is a repost from a blog I wrote at the end of 2015 while we were taking a break from Ethiopia. It was a season of so many unknowns for me- financial, relational and ministry. I’m in a season now that’s very similar to the one I was in then so I went back to read this and was encouraged. On the other side of this blog was provision for our whole family to go to Ethiopia, the beginning of the end of my marriage (my relational questions being answered), and a new vision for the ministry God had for me then that’s building into the one He has for me now. I hope this encourages you.
A quiet observation I have made since coming back to Australia and New Zealand is that having a “Plan B” is a big part of our culture. It’s often a part of how we plan as we take into consideration the potential failure of plan A (ie. The ideal scenario). As we think about risk factors, we “risk manage” around our plan and we set ourselves up a safety net as such. We like to call it plan “B”. B for “better not get too confident in plan A because it might not happen.” People around us compound our fear of failure and confidently elude to the fact that what we have set out to achieve is far beyond our reach and should therefore be prepared for “if all else fails”. Another common terminology in our lingo.
I’m not talking about the little Plan Bs… The wet weather plan or the “if so and so doesn’t show up we will go somewhere else” I’m talking about your plan Bs for the big things in life- the defining moments, or the major life decisions…the ones you know God has endorsed Himself by a spiritual journey He has taken you on to achieve. So the “Plan B” I am referring to is more like “if God doesn’t show up, we will do something else!” Plan B is what we save up for, store up for, buy up for. It’s the thing we have to fall back on “just in case” what we originally set out to do doesn’t fall into place. It’s what we think about when we’re not where we’re going and we’re not where we’ve been.
Lately I’ve learnt that this is a space called “Liminal Space”.
“It [liminal space] is the intermediate, in-between transitional state where you can not go back to where you were because a threshold has been crossed and you have yet to arrive where you are going because it is not yet available to you. Essentially it is the hallway between the past and the future. I can tell you quite candidly, it’s hell in the hallway.” Bishop Mark Chironna in Leadership Pain by Samuel Chand
It’s actually in that liminal space that we forge our plan B’s. When we can’t handle the heat of the unknown, we make plans to take the “Fire Exit” and we fall short of finding out what lies behind the doors ahead. We see companies market their products and services based on this mentality. They develop their advertising to further corroborate this ideal that has become a cultural norm. It’s what insurance is set up for, it’s why investment companies are able to function on the basis of fear, it’s the reason why we all saved up water and nonperishable foods in the year 1999 in case the world stopped functioning when the clock struck midnight on December 31st.
In our own journey we have been challenged about our plan B. What happens if this doesn’t happen. If Ethiopia doesn’t happen? If the money doesn’t come through or the donors don’t give. There are definitely risk factors going into mission in Ethiopia. Most of the time we don’t know how we will fund our trips, our living, our various aspects associated with living far from the normal conveniences of Western life. We aren’t always certain visas will be approved, children will get into school, that we will cope through separations. We could build up safety nets. We could also let these calculated risks feed the fear and anxiety that’s wanting to grow to a point where it will stand in the way of us going with plan A-God’s plan.
The god of plan B is often that thing that draws us away from having an unwavering faith in the God who does fulfill what He has promised. The One who King Solomon wrote about when he said “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean NOT on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
Your own understanding lies behind your desire to set up a safety net, your fire escape, your plan B.
Your own understanding is the god that you could place above the One who has it all under control in the first place- who has a perspective on life that you don’t have and who promises to do what He said He will do.
That god of our own understanding is what caused even Abraham, the “father of faith” to convince himself that sleeping with his maidservant would be a good plan JUST IN CASE God didn’t come through. Previously he had been full of faith but in the waiting his, and the faith of his wife, began to dwindle. We read about it in Genesis 16:
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”
Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.
We read these verses and we think “What was he thinking?!” Abraham (or Abram as he was still called here) was trying to fulfill God’s promise to him, BY HIMSELF! The god of the plan B really is ourselves. It’s our own flesh that gets in the way of what God is already planning to do.
The god of plan B is ME..
The thing is, that He will do it in His time and in His way and we just have to wait. Albeit Abraham was already old when he received the promise and ten years had already passed. Not many of us would have even lasted that long- not many of us CAN last that long. I know I have struggled in the waiting. I haven’t waited well but I am learning to stand in faith and trust God to come through when He is ready. I believe He can and He WILL in His time.
We don’t need to always have a plan B. God’s plan will always be bigger than what we can achieve, that’s what makes it all the more worth waiting for, believing for and dreaming for. If God has said it will be done, it will be done. We don’t always see how it will be done, but He does. Trust Him. Have Hope. It’s coming!
For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie.If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. Habbakuk 2:3
from Michelle’s blog http://www.aheartforethiopia.blogspot.com
Originally written in November 2015