I like a backup plan. Sometimes I feel I need a backup plan. OK, I always feel like I need a backup plan. Maybe you do, too. After all, who’s gonna jump from an airplane without at least two rip cords, right?
The question I want to ponder a little bit is this: Is it bad to have a “Plan B”? Is it good planning or is there something deeper, at least for the disciple of Christ? Is it sin? Hm, that seems a little harsh, at best. Consider something I ran across while reading in Ezra (8:21-23):
I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. 22 For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” 23 So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.
Let’s analyze that a little bit: Ezra proclaimed a fast for a specific reason…well, two, really, but one was primary (and it might not be the one you would think). One reason was for their protection. That’s important. It’s clearly not wrong to pray for protection on a trip, but that’s not the primary reason. His greatest concern was his testimony before the king. He had been declaring the importance of faith in God (notice the condition: “those who seek Him”), now if he calls for a plan B (“hey, just in case God doesn’t come through, could you give us a couple of escorts?”), it would totally undermine his testimony of faith in God. In other words, Ezra saw the importance of practicing what he preached!
After fasting and praying (not just assuming God’s protection), he then declared that God heard their prayer…before they ever left! He demonstrated his faith in God at the onset, knowing he didn’t need a plan B. Look at what he said again: “So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.” (verse 23). Then they headed out.
Now, skip down to verse 31 and see Ezra’s testimony of what God did after the journey:
31 Then we departed from the river Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way.
I have to admit, there are many times I start off the way Ezra did, asking for God’s protection, then work out my contingency plan just in case. That is nothing short of a lack of faith in God’s protection and deliverance. Think about it this way: What if by my disobedience, my plan puts me out of the will of God? After all, is my safety the utmost in God’s mind? What if, in spite of my request for safety, God is most glorified (which is my highest desire) by me not being delivered? There are certainly plenty of accounts in history that demonstrate that. The most important thing for me should be to be in the center of His will, so that whatever happens to me, I’m OK in His eternal care and He’s glorified.
So, do you find yourself looking for “Plan B”? Do you trust God enough to pray for protection, believing that He will come through, but OK with whatever He chooses to do in and with your life? That takes a lot of faith, doesn’t it? My encouragement to the Christ-followers is to realize that faith is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) and that if you aren’t able to trust Him to that extent, start asking Him for it.
Planning isn’t a bad thing. As a matter of fact, Proverbs teaches us repeatedly to do that very thing. However, if our plans start undermining trust in the strong hand of the Lord, our trust in the “reserve chute” will lead us right into a deeper form of danger than anything we’ll ever face in our day-to-day lives. That is living (and dying) outside the will and protection of God. It will be then that we find that pulling that second cord doesn’t work either.