Living your plan B
Most of the time, I am okay about being housebound with severe M.E (sometimes known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). After years of the illness it has become normal. But this morning it was not okay.
Today, I ached for the bible teaching ministry I used to have, the places I could freely visit, the friends I used to be able to chat with. Now, my illness forces me to spend most of my day in bed, resting. I rarely leave the house. I have had to abandon so many hopes and goals.
This morning I was so aware of my weakness
and limitations. In my discouragement, I read Philippians: '…I am in chains…'
And suddenly I was Paul, stuck in chains under house-arrest
, seeing all of his hopes and desires for ministry to the far nations wither away, his substantial gifts of debate and preaching atrophying as he spent the hours in chains, counting the hours as they passed. I was Paul, thinking, ‘Has God rejected me? Was I being punished in some way?
And then I was Paul, feeling that it was God who was at fault, God who had failed. Surely there was much more valuable work for him to be doing. If I were Paul, this is how I would have felt: God had got it wrong.
But God hadn’t got it wrong
Paul being in prison meant that he couldn’t do as much preaching and travelling. The only way he could keep in touch
with the churches to encourage and teach them was to write. So he wrote – and as a result we have most of the New Testament
Out of a place of weakness and limitation, he left a legacy for thousands of generations.
Paul wasn’t to know this. Although he was probably aware that his words were scripture (2 Pet 3:16
), he wasn’t to know how many billions of people would read his words down the ages.
His writing, his 'second-choice' mission activity was God’s way of enabling the scriptures to be written. His weakness was a means of God’s grace. His Plan B was God’s Plan A.
In light of eternity
What we think of as our greatest achievements, may, in the light of eternity, be nothing; what we think of as our weakness may, in the light of eternity, be our greatest achievement.
The 'Plan Z' of the cross was God's glorious Plan A. Actually, in the end, it’s not about the achievements - it's about Jesus. I go back to reading the passage and pray Paul's words for myself:
'But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ' (Phil 3:7-8).
When are you tempted to think God has got it wrong, that you are living your plan B/C/Z?
What goals or hopes have you lost, and to what extent can you say with Paul, 'I consider them garbage'?