God's Plan A

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler

Marie Carlson grew up thinking that God had a clear-cut system for dealing with good and bad behaviors. “It went something like this,” she says. “God always had an ‘A’ plan. If you did the right thing and didn’t mess up that plan by sinning, you got to enjoy the corresponding ‘A’ outcome and rewards. However, any major sin altered the ‘A’ plan—God’s best—forever. If you failed, the best you could hope for was the ‘B’ or even the ‘C’ plan—God’s second or third best. It all made perfect sense . . . as long as you were, in fact, perfect.”

Then came the news that turned her self-perception upside down. When Marie was in her early teens, she discovered that her parents had conceived her out of wedlock. “It was hard enough to accept that my parents hadn’t wanted me,” she says. “The realization that God hadn’t wanted me either wounded me beyond articulation. I felt I’d been stamped defective and knocked out of the loop of grace.”

Marie struggled with feelings of anger and inadequacy. Then one night she was reading the story of Joseph, who had been sold into slavery by his older brothers. She stopped when she read his gracious response to them years later: “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:19-20, NIV).

Those words, she said, “slapped me stone still. I read them again and felt something inside begin to crumble. All the anger and resentment I’d harbored against God for rejecting me as a ‘B-plan’ child came flooding back. Encircling the Bible with my arms, I buried my head on the open pages and wept.”[1]

Like Marie, many of us feel wounded and inadequate. No matter what you’ve done or what’s been done to you, God says today that you are his “A-plan” child who will enjoy his best forever.

[1] Marie Carlson, “God’s ‘A’ Plan,” in Stories of Comfort for a Healthy Soul, compiled by Christine M. Anderson (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001), 38–40

(Image courtesy of fyuryu at flickr.com.)

Originally published March 11, 2013.

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