Christians have made the gospel about so many things–things other than Christ.” So says the back-jacket of Len Sweet and Frank Viola’s collaborative effort, which seeks to “Restore the supremacy and sovereignty of Jesus Christ.”
There are some really great things to be said about this book. A couple of chapters in particular really brought some perspective and changed the way I looked at things, but all in all there wasn’t a ton I hadn’t seen/heard/read before. I would like to specifically bring up two things that I really loved. Here, I’ll quote one:
Jesus Christ is like a vast ocean. He is too immense to filly explore, and too rich to fathom. You are like a bottle. The wonder if the ocean is that the bottle is in the ocean, and the ocean is in the bottle
You see, Jesus, the biggest thing in the universe, the person so completely above and beyond anything we could ever imagine, wants to (and does, when we give our lives to him) take up residence within us. But at the same time, we are in Him. I could say that over and over again and it would still blow my mind, but I take comfort in it. The God of all wants us. In the book’s seventh chapter, the guys explore the flaw in most of the religion thrown around Christianity these days. We’ve become so obsessed with being “like” Jesus that Christianity has become about behavior modification instead of life change. No, that’s not just semantics, there’s a real difference. Christianity isn’t trying to be like Jesus, Christianity is KNOWING Jesus. Len and Frank believe the source of this flaw dates all the way back to the garden of Eden. There were two trees; the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The writers believe the choice that faced Adam and Eve still faces us today. I’d like to quote a big hunk of the book here, because it explains the point way better than I could.
The meaning of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil can be understood by the serpent’s promise: “By eating from this tree, you will be making your own decision. You will be like God, determining for yourself what is right and what is wrong.” The fall of humanity was all about women and men assuming the posture that they don’t need anyone to tell them what to do. They would decide for themselves what’s good and what’s bad. They would be self-sufficient and self-determining. Of course, what was ignored in that discussion was the tree of life. God wanted humans to eat from the tree of life. Eating from the tree of life meant receiving the uncreated life of God into oneself. The tree of life was God’s own life made accessible to human beings. Today, the tree of life is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here are the two choices before you today: 1. The choice to intellectually know good from evil and to try to do good = the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 2. Living by the life of God, which is goodness itself = the tree of life
So, what tree are you eating from? I think that’s a relevant question today, as we live our lives between the trees.
And here it is, my final LOST Week post, less than 24 hours away from the series finale. Here I’ll count down my Top 10 Episodes of all time. That’s right. All time. And I did say 10. Because 5 isn’t enough and it’s time to go big or go home.
Let’s do this.
10. “Do No Harm”, Episode 120 – This season episode gives us a birth and our first major death, as Boone dies on Jack’s island operating table. The death/life juxtaposition alone should be enough to make this list, but there’s also some great Charlie/Jin stuff when Claire’s in labor, we begin to see Jack’s constant need to fix everything, and the seeds for the Jack/Locke rivalry that lasts the whole series are planted.
9. “The Moth,” Episode 107 – This episode is the one I realized this was going to be more than a tv show. That this show was going to be “about” something. That there would be spiritual avenues explored. Locke tries to help Charlie kick his drug habit, and the metaphor of the moth in its cocoon strikes home perfectly. The flashbacks are heartbreaking, as you see Charlie fight and fight the rockstar lifestyle until he finally gives in when he realizes it’s no longer about the music to his bandmates. This episode is the first time an attempt to escape the island is sabotaged, when Sayid is knocked out and his equipment destroyed (done, we find later, by Locke).
8. “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” Episode 308 – Time travel is introduced to the show here, as Desmond’s conscious travels back to his time with Penny. Starting here, every single Desmond-centered episode has been outstanding. That’s one of the reasons he’s my favorite character on the show. There are little gifts sprinkled throughout the episode as well, like Charlie’s busking in Des’s flashback, singing “Maybe you’re gonna be the one that saves me…” This is also our first glimpse of Eloise Hawking, who comes to play a much more important role than we know at the time.
7. “The Incident,” Episode 516,17 – The fifth season finale and an eventful one. Here we get our first looks at Jacob and the Man in Black, we see Ben kill Jacob, we find out that the revived Locke isn’t really the revived Locke, but is the Man in Black instead, Sayid gets shot, Juliet detonates the H-bomb, we see Jacob “touch” all the people we find out are candidates in season 6 by flashbacks…Yeah, a lot happens and it never felt too busy. This is the quintessential LOST finale.
6. “Walkabout,” Episode 104 – John Locke was in a wheelchair?!?!?!? Whaaaaaat? Here we find that the island may not just be an island. This is also the beginning of Terry O’Quinn’s dominance of this show. Has there been an actor play a character so well so consistently for so long better than Terry O’Quinn as John Locke? I’m not sure there has been. The reveal is still one of the best in the show’s history, as John yells his now-famous phrase, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!”
5. “The Constant,” Episode 405 – Another Desmond time travel episode, and one with one of the two most emotional endings in the history of the show. Desmond becomes unstuck in time, his 1996 consciousness traveling back and forth between his 2004 body and his 1996 body. He has to establish a constant, someone he knew and was in contact with both before and after he began traveling. The only person he can think of is Penny, and the two share an emotional phone call to end the episode. I’m not ashamed to say I shed a few tears.
4. “The Candidate,” Episode 614 – Remember how I said “The Constant” had one of the two most emotional endings in the history of the show? Well this episode has the other. Sun and Sin die together Titanic-style as the sub fills with water. I was fine until Hurley started crying…then I lost it. But that isn’t all this episode gives us. Here we see Jack has come full circle, he’s no longer a man of science, he’s a man of faith. Glimpses have come slowly all season, but it’s here he’s become the leader John Locke wanted to be all along. He’s able to do the thing John never could, to have faith without being blinded by it. Sayid has a moment of redemption, sacrificing himself to save the others, running away with the bomb MiB has snuck into Jack’s pack. And there’s some great off-island flash-sideways stuff with Jack and Locke.
3. “Through the Looking Glass,” Episode 322,23 – This is my favorite season finale of the show so far. Here, we witness Charlie’s heroic death, Jack attempt to get the survivors rescued, and Sawyer finally gets even with “Zeke”/Mr. Friendly. But most importantly, this is the episode that changed the scope of the show forever. For the first time, we realize that the writers aren’t going to just tell the story through flashback, but they plan to flash-forward as well. The chills I got when Jack yelled “We have to go back!” are indescribable. Also, realizing that at least some of the survivors eventually get off the island changed the show completely. For three years we thought the endgame of the show was to get the Losties off the island. When we know that’s going to happen, the purpose changes. The scope grows. Brilliant.
2. “Ab Aeterno,” Episode 609 – My single-most anticipate episode ever, other than the series finale. We finally find out Richard’s history: who he was, why he doesn’t age, how long he’s been on the island. It helps that this is perhaps the best-acted flashback in the history of the show. Nestor Carbonell deserves two or three Emmys for his performance. This episode also gives us a bit more mythology, and we find out Richard’s job as Jacob’s mediator to the people Jacob brings to the island. Not really much else to say about the episode, other than wow wow wow what acting.
1. “Pilot” Episode 101,2 – I can’t really see putting any other episode here. The scope of the Pilot episode of LOST set it apart from every other TV show being made at the time. This wasn’t just a tv show pilot, this was a feature. This was legit. The ability of the writers to write a two hour event that completely pulled you in and had you wanting more is uncanny, and the built in mythology that’s still intact and interesting 6 years later is amazing. I’ve yet to convert someone to the show who wasn’t hooked after the pilot. In my opinion, it’s the best pilot episode in the history of television.
So there you have it. My top ten all-time LOST episodes. Tomorrow night is the series finale. I don’t know what I’m going to do with my brain after the show is gone. It’s certainly given it much-needed stimulation.
We’re inching closer and closer to the 4.5 hour event that is the Series Finale of LOST. Well, the finale is just 2.5 hours, but there’s a 2 hour pre-show deal starting at 7. So whatever.
Anyway, I’m going to take a bit of a break tonight and come back tomorrow with my Top 5 Episodes of all time. Tonight, I just want to leave you with what I believe should be the unofficial theme song for the show…
Hello hello and welcome to part four of LOST Week here at in medias res. There’s just a few more days til the finale and grief is setting in. I’m going to miss this show. Let’s get to the list. Tonight’s top 5 is (drumroll, please)…my Top Five WTF?!?! Moments. These will be the top 5 moments that made me say ….whaaaaat?!?! Please understand that this is a show with an unending supply of WTF moments. So there will inevitably be something that someone who reads this thinks should be on here that isn’t on here. Deal with it This is my list. So, alright, let’s do it.
5. Michael shoots Ana-Lucia and Libby, Episode 220, “Two For the Road” – This is one plot twist that I didn’t at all see coming. Whether or not this was related to Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Watros’s law trouble in Hawaii, Michael shooting these two characters and himself, then letting Ben go at the end of “Two for the Road” and the beginning of “?” remains one of the most surprising moment in the history of the series. It’s amazing what a parent will do to get their child back (an idea the series had already explored, with Rousseau stealing Aaron in hopes of exchanging him for Alex back in Season One).
4. Sawyer shoots POLAR BEAR?!, Episode 102, “Pilot, part 2″ – Okay, so I know given all of the things that have happened in the six seasons of this show’s existence, you wouldn’t think this would make the list. But seriously, do you REMEMBER how shocking this was? We didn’t know anything about this island except for the shaking trees and the dead pilot and all of a sudden there’s a FRIGGIN’ POLAR BEAR? I mean, seriously. That’s ridiculous. And it turns out it had to do with the Dharma Initiative all along. This was Episode TWO. We didn’t hear about the Dharma Initiative til a few episodes into Season Two at the earliest. And who says the writers make this stuff up as they go along?
3. Locke used to be in a wheelchair, Episode 104, ‘Walkabout” – Here’s something that we’ve known so long, it’s easy to forget how shocking it was when it was first revealed. This crazy capable hunter guy on the island was completely wheelchair bound for 4 years before showing up on the island. The island healed him. WHAAAAT? This was the point in the first season where it really started to become clear that there some wacky wacky stuff up with the island. Not only are there polar bears and tree-moving monsters, but it was healing people. The island. A piece of land. Healing people.
2. The Others kidnap Walt, Episode 124, “Exodus, Part 2″ – With a brilliant bit of misdirection, fooling the cast and the viewer, the writers tell us the Others were coming for “the boy.” Everyone thought it was Aaron until that spotlight shone on the raft and good ol’ Mr. Friendly said the words “We’re gonna have to take the boy.” We knew there was something different about Walt, and apparently the Others had figured it out as well. I’ll never forget the chill that ran down my spine as Michael was treading water yelling “WALT!” over and over. Poor papa.
1. FlashFORWARD?, Episode 324, “Through the Looking Glass, Part 2″ – So we watch this whole season finale watching what we think are flashbacks to Jack in a drug-addled, paranoid, suicidal state and we think “Man, what’s up with Jack?” None of this vibes with the Jack we’ve seen in prior flashbacks. Oh, he certainly didn’t have it all together, but he was always too busy fixing things to get this messed up. My first clue was when we see Jack in his house/apartment surrounded by maps. I remember thinking “What’s up with all these maps?” Then he heads to the airport to meet someone and who is it, but Kate Austen. You know the rest. This moment was a complete game-changer. When Jack said the words “WE HAVE TO GO BACK,” I knew the whole dynamic of the show was changing, and it did. Brilliant, brilliant idea.
Alright, just a couple more days left. See you tomorrow for Part 5.
Alright, welcome back to Lost week, unless you haven’t been here yet, in which case…welcome (not back) to Lost week. As I said in the last post, I particularly enjoyed last night’s episode, especially after the just-okay-fest of the previous one. With that in mind and because no show is perfect, tonight I’m going to highlight my Top 5 Lamest Episodes of LOST. That’s right, this is going to be fun.
5. “Fire+Water”, Episode 212 – I normally enjoy Charlie-centric episodes (“The Moth” and “Greatest Hits” are two of my all-time faves), but this one…man. Weird-ness. Charlie has creepy vision-dreams about saving/baptizing Aaron, and gets beat the heck up by Locke. The flashbacks are either super-depressing (Liam sells Charlie’s piano) or stupid (“You all every-butties.” Seriously.). Then Claire, even though she’s so mad at Charlie for trying to baptize Aaron, ends up having Eko baptist her and the baby both (with HORRIBLE theology by the way. I know it’s a tv show, but…yeesh.).
4. “Across The Sea”, Episode 615 – This episode wins the prize for killing expectations. The much anticipated Jacob/Man-in-black flashback turned out to be kind of…boring. It didn’t help that it wasn’t all that well acted. Young Jacob was a wimp. Jacob and MiB’s “mom” was a total crazy-lady. The reason the island is special is because of a bright light at its center, which apparently turns people into Smoke monsters. Oh, and MiB and their fake-mom are “Adam and Eve” from the caves in Season 1. Yeah, because we all cared about that mystery 5 years later.
3. “Born To Run”, Episode 122 – Ohhhh hey, now we know what was up with Kate’s toy plane. Whew. I’m glad we figured that one out. Not like we could’ve used that episode to figure out what she did, instead of waiting til Season 2. I’m sorry. But Kate. She’s useless. She’s stupid. Let’s just get rid of her. Yeah, she’s pretty. Yeah, she’s a tomboy. Woopee.
2. “Stranger in a Strange Land”, Episode 309 – Jack’s tattoos. Or should I say Matthew Fox’s tattoos. We had to explain this. With BAI LING!?!?!? Seriously? I don’t even know what else to say.
1. “Exposé”, Episode 314 – Nikki and Paolo. This was the writers’ attempt to focus on some of the other 40 survivors we hadn’t visited with in the previous 2 seasons. It failed miserably. Nobody cared about them and nobody cared about their diamonds and nobody cared about their paralyzing poisonous spiders. DUMB DUMB DUMB.
Okay. Now, see? The show isn’t perfect. But, as you can see, my negative comments are considerably shorter than my positive ones. And, let’s be honest. No show is ever going to have 6 seasons of perfect episodes. Every show had its stinkers. That’s what makes it TV. Let’s hope the Series Finale doesn’t make this list. See you tomorrow night!
The end is near. I promise I’m not emotional about it. The penultimate episode of LOST aired tonight, and it was great. Definitely made up for the mediocre-ness of “Across the Sea”. Anyhow, tonight’s top 5. Let’s do this. Tonight, I’ll be talking about my Top 5 Minor Characters on LOST, or to be more specific, my Top 5 recurring characters who never became part of the main cast. I’m also going to disallow characters like Rousseau, Rose and Bernard, and Penny who, though they never were credited as main cast, got a lot of focus and screentime. Alright, let’s do this.
5. Leslie Arzt – A high school science teacher, Dr. Arzt was introduced near the end of the first season as a bit of an appeasement for the fans wanting to know more about the other 40 survivors we hadn’t been following. After complaining about not being included in the “A-Team” adventures on the island, Dr. Arzt went off into the jungle with Locke, Rousseau, Jack, Kate and Hurley to get dynamite from the Black Rock and promptly blew himself up. I still have no idea how his last name is really supposed to be pronounced. Favorite line: “Yeah, I wanted to help, and that was before Montand lost his frigging arm.” Trivia: Arzt is German for doctor, making the full English translation of his name Dr. Leslie Doctor.
4. Anthony Cooper – Also introduced in Season 1 in Locke’s flashback episode “Deus Ex Machina,” he is John Locke’s biological father and a ruthless con man. Cooper is also the original Sawyer, the man who seduced James “Sawyer” Ford’s mom leading to the murder-suicide at the hands of Ford’s father. Cooper cons Locke into giving him a kidney and then disappears from his life, until later he tries to kill John, ending with Locke being confined to his wheelchair for 4 years prior to going to the island. Ben and Richard somehow bring Cooper to the island in Season 3, and Locke gets Sawyer to kill him so he can join the Others as their future leader. Favorite line: “There is no “why”. You think you’re the first person I’ve ever got conned? You needed a father figure and I needed a kidney, and that’s what happened. Get over it. And John, don’t come back. You’re not wanted.” Trivia: He is named after Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, the mentor of philosopher John Locke, the namesake for the show’s John Locke.
3. Ethan Rom – The first “other” we meet, before we even know to call them the “others.” Ethan infiltrates the survivors’ camp to get to know them, and eventually kidnaps Claire to do tests on her back at the Staff Dharma Station. Ethan is a doctor, like Jack, though he is also a skilled tracker/hunter and fighter, as the survivors learn in Season One as they try to track him to save Claire and Charlie. After Claire escapes from the Others, the Losties use her as bait to catch Ethan to ask him questions, but before they can question him Charlie shoots and kills him. Favorite line: “You bring her here. If you don’t, I’m going to kill one of them. Then if you don’t bring her back before sundown tomorrow, I’ll kill another. And another. And another. One every day. And, Charlie, I’ll kill you last.” Trivia: “Ethan Rom” is an anagram for “Other Man.”
2. Christian Shepard – Jack and Claire’s father, riding in a coffin on the flight (we think), Christian connects many of our 815 survivors. He took Ana Lucia to Australia with him as his bodyguard, he drank with Sawyer at an Aussie bar. Through him, Jack and Claire are half-siblings, though neither of them knows it until Jack leaves the island the first time. Christian is an alcoholic, and dies in Australia on a drinking binge after Jack gets him fired from his job as Chief of Surgery for drinking on the job. Christian is a self-loathing self-sabotaging man, like many of the weak characters on Lost, though, unlike some of the others, he never gets his chance at redemption. Favorite line: “It’s fate. Some people are just supposed to suffer. That’s why the Red Sox will never win the damn Series.” Trivia: John Terry, the actor who plays Christian Shepard, voices the “Previously on LOST” that you hear before the beginning of each episode.
1. Tom Friendly – Our first meeting with Mr. Friendly doesn’t go well, as he tells Michael “I’m sorry, we’re gonna have to take the boy,” blows up the raft, and takes Michael off to Others-ville. Known for donning a bushy fake beard, Friendly is a high ranking Other that Ben often sends out to do his work. Sawyer forms a personal vendetta against Tom after he takes Walt and shoots Sawyer, and in the jungle meeting between Jack, Locke, Sawyer, and Tom and the others, Sawyer is noted to say “You and me ain’t done, Zeke” before he throws his guns down. In season 3, Sawyer shoots and kills Tom Friendly. There was much speculation that Friendly was gay after he told Kate “you’re not my type” at the beginning of Season 3. Favorite line: “You know somebody a whole lot smarter than anybody here once said: ‘Since the dawn of our species, man’s been blessed with curiosity.’ You know the other one about curiosity, don’t you, Jack? This is not your island. This is our island. And the only reason you’re living on it is ’cause we let you live on it.” Trivia: “Friendly” was never officially stated in the show as Tom’s last name, and was only used on the show’s press releases and by the show’s producers in discussing the character.
So, I just realized that I have less than a week left before LOST, my favorite tv show of all time, is no more. Tomorrow night (err…tonight) is the penultimate episode, and the 2.5 hour finale airs Sunday night. So I decided (5 minutes ago, as this post’s title suggests) to make this week LOST Week here at the blog (warning: possible spoilers ahead). I’m going to write at least one post every day featuring a top 5 list related to the show. I love top 5 lists. I blame High Fidelity.
So. Tonight’s top 5 will be (drumroll) my Top 5 Musical Moments. These are my 5 favorite song cues in the 6 seasons we’ve had this show. This list will be a bit season 1-heavy I think, given the propensity to end episodes with a pop song in that season. But I can live with that if you can. Here we go.
Tie-5. “Make Your Own Kind of Music” by Mama Cass – Episode 201 – “Man of Science, Man of Faith” – This is our first introduction to Desmond (my favorite character on the show…ever), as well as the moment we realize it’s our new Scottish friend down in that hatch. I know, seems so long ago now. I’d love to know what made the writers choose this song for Des to play in his introduction. Dharma initiative’s heyday was in the early 70′s, so it makes sense time-wise, but why that song? Why not something by Creedence Clearwater Revival or Cream? Maybe royalties play a factor, but regardless, it’s an interesting choice. A read of the lyrics might suggest that this song would provide a comfort for Desmond after spending several years alone in a hatch pushing a button. Here’s this stanza, for instance:
You’re gonna be knowing
the loneliest kind of lonely.
It may be rough goin’,
just to do your thing’s
the hardest thing to do.
This song will forever be associated with this moment on this show for me now. And now I think of more than choking on sandwiches and Scooby Doo episodes when someone mentions Mama Cass.
Tie-5. “Downtown” by Petula Clark – Episode 301 – “A Tale of Two Cities” – This song is our introduction to Juliet and New Otherton, as we open Season 3 to the Others’ book club meeting. Now, I know it’s a bit of a cheat to have a tie for 5th, thereby making this a Top 6 list, but just stay with me. Two seasons in a row the writers of Lost introduce us to a new character in an unfamiliar place with an old song. The song has connections to the character that are subtle enough that it takes a reading of the lyrics to find them. Both songs are at least indirectly about isolation, and both characters are completely isolated. Desmond from the entire world, and Juliet from the world she loves and misses. Juliet is stuck on an island with a group of people she agreed to work with and now is expected to help lead (while her leadership role is never directly stated, it’s at least implied that Others like Juliet and Tom Friendly are high in the pecking order under Ben) under a leader she now hates. A leader who has manipulated her into this position. Juliet wants nothing more than to “forget all your troubles, forget all your cares and go…”
4. “Wash Away (Reprise)” by Joe Purdy – Episode 103 – “Tabula Rasa” – This episode is our first Kate flashback episode, where we first follow her fugitive ways. If you didn’t know, “Tabula Rasa” is Latin for blank slate. One of the biggest themes of the first season is that the island offers each of the survivors of flight 185 a new beginning, a fresh start. This may be more important for Kate than for anyone. The end of the episode, featuring this Joe Purdy tune over shots of the survivors finally showing glimpses of optimism and hope, was the first moment in the series that seemed to transcend mere storytelling into something more beautiful. Also, I’ll never forget how the song faded out to ominous tones as the “mysterious” Mr. Locke looked at Michael and Walt. Remember when we had no idea what was up with that guy?
3. “I Shall Not Walk Alone” by The Blind Boys of Alabama – Episode 108 – “Confidence Man” – Sayid steps off to plot the island and escape the man he fears he’s going to become again after torturing Sawyer. The song plays over shots of several of the castaways spending time together, ending with Sawyer, alone with his baggage and the letter he wrote decades ago to the man he’s going to kill, and Sayid starting his journey. The irony here is that as the band sings “I shall not walk alone” Sayid is off down the beach by himself. But again, a reading of the lyrics reveals more.
Beauty that we left behind; how shall we tomorrow find?
Set aside our weight in sin so that we can live again
Sayid hopes to be able to set aside the weight of his sin, of the things he’s done to who knows how many people. And as we see in the next episode, he wishes to find the beauty he has left behind, his dear Nadia. Sayid doesn’t walk alone. He carries the weight of all the victims he’s tortured, and the memory of the woman he loves and prays to meet again someday. Hope and guilt are a strange combination we all carry.
2. “You All Everybody” by Drive Shaft – Episode 107 – “The Moth” – We finally hear the hit song Charlie hints at in the pilot, and it is so totally worth it. “You all everybody acting like the stupid people wearing those expensive clothes” is a lyric ripped from a Jerry Springer-type show, according to the writers. It makes no sense and yet is totally perfect. It’s the only “original” Lost song on this list, because of its association for me with Charlie’s story. A man with a passion for music who falls into the deepest pit of addiction and somehow manages to claw his way out much like a moth. I identify with Charlie’s struggle to break free of his chains, of his baggage.
1. “Are You Sure?” by Willie Nelson – Episode 106 – “House of the Rising Sun” – This song is my number 1 musical moment on Lost because of the perfect intersection of the plot and the music, put together for emotional effect. This song plays as the survivors settle in at the island ‘homes’ they’ve chosen. Some are at the caves, while others remain at the beach with the signal fires.
Look around you, take a good look and tell me what you see.
Are you sure this is where you want to be?
Those lyrics describe the state of the castaways in this moment better than any could. It was another transcendent moment in the history of a show with many transcendent moments, which I guarantee you will be explored further this week. I’m sure I could have more to say on this subject, but it’s 2 AM and I’m downright sleepy. So until tomorrow, Happy LOST Week.
What do you do when God doesn’t show up the way you thought He would? What do you do when your dreams are shattered? What do you do when your life isn’t turning out the way you thought? What do you do when you have to turn to Plan B? These are the questions asked on the jacket of Pete Wilson’s new book Plan B, and they’re appropriate. Everyone goes through a Plan B situation. I know I’ve been there more than once. Two years ago I was working at a church doing what I thought I was going to do for the rest of my life, and that fell apart. A year later, I was still miserable but my one constant was the girl I was in love with and was sure I would marry. Then that fell apart, too. I was angry, confused, and upset. I was so sure that God would at least let me have that. I was so sure that that was part of His plan. I really could’ve used this book back then.
In Plan B, Pete tells the stories of Bible characters we all know, as well as personal stories of his own and people he’s come into contact with throughout his life who have gone through their own crises or had their dreams shattered. Folks like Joseph, David, Joshua, Abraham, and modern folks like Pete’s friends Angie and Todd Smith, or Justin and Trisha Davis. Pete relates the stories of his friends and these Biblical heroes to whatever Plan B situation you may be going through right now. You will probably find (as I did) that a lot of the questions you have are the same. Why is God doing this to me now? Why is God letting this happen? What did I do to deserve this? So the first thing I want to note is that reading this book made me feel as if I was in good company. I’m not alone in my pain. In my sorrow. Even Jesus went through Plan B’s. He was “a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)
What I was afraid this book would be (unfairly, given what I knew of Pete from his blog posts and tweets) was a self-help book of 7 easy steps to grief-free living, or a guide to praying the prayer that frees you from your problems. That’s what seems to sell, anyway. But that isn’t what this book is. There’s a beautiful turning point about 2/3 of the way in where Pete brings up the cross. You see, Pete has this crazy idea that maybe our Plan B’s have a purpose, much like the cross of Jesus. Maybe they’re taking us somewhere. Maybe they’re changing us. Maybe it’s in the Plan B, in the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, that God’s doing His work in us. And there’s one passage in particular that punched me right in the gut:
You may be at odds with God right now. You’re not happy with the way your life is turning out. You may be praying and pleading with God. But is it possible you don’t really want God? Is it possible you just want what God can give you?
Ouch. That really hit home for me. How many of us have done that? Probably all of us. I know I have.
You see, Plan B isn’t a book that claims to have all the answers. But it does point us to the solution, the cross of Jesus. It is at the cross our hope is found. In this world we will come across all sorts of trouble, but can have HOPE because our God has overcome the world (John 16:33 my paraphrase). This book doesn’t end with a nice bow wrapped on top, to make everyone feel better. But it does end with an honest challenge that can change the way you live in your Plan B. Choose to let God change you, choose to love, and choose to trust. I pray we all can do that. Amen.