Updated: May 25, 2021
Running Against the Wind: Building Stamina and Resilience in the Face of Resistance
How often do your plans work out the way you want? For me, there are usually several adjustments that I have to make. Some adjustments are in outcomes. Some are in timing. Some are in general expectations, and often the whole plan must be scrapped and I have to go with plan B.
Plan B is not our optimum plan. It’s the backup plan. But could it be that plan B becomes the better plan? Have you ever had a plan A blow up and then you scramble to get a plan B and later find plan B was actually better?
There are two problems with plan B. One is that it was not our plan A and the second is that to get to plan B you must have resilience. Now when I speak of plan B, it may actually be not your second plan but your third or fourth plan. It could be plan G! To keep trying, to keep planning and moving requires a significant source of resilience. It takes a special person to do this.
I’d like to introduce to you the Apostle of Plan B. Better known today as the Apostle Paul.
Paul enters the biblical story with his plan A in full swing. His plan is to stamp out Christianity. He’s doing this by stopping the followers of Christ from sharing the good news of the Kingdom of God. He threatens, he arrests, he puts into prison. He even participates, though passively, in the murder of Stephen in Acts 7:58. After this, Saul (he’s still known by this name) ramps up his mission to destroy the church and put the followers of Christ into prison. At first, he seems very successful until his plan A runs into God’s plan A.
God’s plan A for Paul was that he do the very opposite of what he was doing. Instead of tearing the church down, God wants him to help build it up. Plan B for Paul was not even a thought. But then he met Christ on the road to Damascus everything changed.
Even though God’s plan A for Paul was to be a light to all people for Christ, it wasn’t easy. It was harder than what he was doing before. Paul had a lot to deal with. In one of his letters to the church at Corinth, he expresses the challenges of resilience he faced:
“Five times I received the forty lashes minus one from the Jews. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea. On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, and dangers among false brothers; toil and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and without clothing. Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my concern for all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:24–28, CSB)
In spite of all this, Paul was resilient in his ministry. What was it that kept him going? If you read on to the next chapter of the letter, chapter 12, you’ll find that what kept Paul going was a vision of Christ and an assurance that he was to accomplish what God created him for. God’s grace would be sufficient.
It’s been said that the most important day in a person’s life is the day they are born. It’s also been said that the second most important day in a person’s life is when they find out why. Paul discovered in Christ why he was born and what he was to do with his life. The outcome was up to God but the faithfulness was up to Paul.
I urge you to not give up. I marvel at Paul’s tenacity. But then I see why. He discovered the grace of God and that grace extended into his life circumstances. He also knew what direction he was to live and work. He was able to do that with all his might and leave the results to God. That is the secret of seeing our plan B turning into God’s plan A. By the way, it’s also a better plan for it continues into eternity.