Book Review: Plan B by Pete Wilson


Title: Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn’t Show Up the Way You Thought He Would?
Author: Pete Wilson
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

I wish books like Plan B didn’t need to be written.

And if I had to guess its author, Pete Wilson, does too.

“Do you remember the day you discovered your life wasn’t going to turn out quite the way you thought?” asks Wilson (p. 1).

Whether it’s a certain job, or for children, marriage—whatever it may be—we’ve all got plans and dreams for our lives. The question is, are our plans and God’s the same?

Whatever you wanted for your life, if you’re a Christian, you may well have assumed God wanted it for you as well. You might not admit it, even to yourself, but you were pretty sure God was going to sweep down and provide for you as only God could do.

The problem is, what you assumed was not necessarily what happened. (p. 4)

Wilson reveals our issue when dealing with any sort of trial: We are completely flabbergasted when it happens! We assume that our plans are what God intends—and when those things don’t work out, we’re left spinning our wheels.

And Wilson seeks to encourage his readers to move forward in their new normal and look to Christ as their only source of fulfillment.

Loving People with the Cross

One of the things I appreciate most in Plan B is Wilson’s obvious pastoral heart. His love for people saturates every word of this book as he describes the end of marriages, the self-destructive behavior of godly parents’ children and a host of other situations.

But, where it becomes most evident is when he approached the real issue: The cross.

“You need to know that the cross is not just the starting line,” he writes. “It’s the very centerpiece of your story with God. It’s the place where the pain of ‘you will have trouble’ meets the triumph of ‘I have defeated the world.’” (p. 149)

The cross, Wilson says, is the reason we can have hope even in the midst of our greatest crises. He describes it as the anchor we need when the world seems bent on turning our lives upside down.

When our lives are being rocked by this broken world, we need to look to the cross as a reminder that God can and will redeem our circumstances. God does love us, and that supersedes whatever Plan B situation we might be going through. (p. 150)

But can we see it? Or are we blinded by idols?

Smashing Idols

What causes us the most grief during a time of trial, a “Plan B situation”?

Our idols are revealed.

Wilson isn’t afraid to call all of us—even himself—out on this. He writes,

I think all of us have at least one area of our lives where we’re tempted to pursue something other than God. . . .

So how do you know where and what you worship? . . . Follow the trail of your time, affections, energy, money, allegiance. Follow the trail of all of these things. At the end of that trail, you’ll find a throne; and whatever—or whomever—is on that throne is what’s of highest value to you. It’s your ultimate . . . your idol . . . your adulterous lover.

[T]he trail never lies. In the end our worship, our idolatry, is more about what we do than what we say. (p. 153-154)

Our idolatrous hearts are revealed in our suffering and difficulties when our dreams and desires are sometimes torn away from us—because we love them more than we love God. We try to use Him as a cosmic vending machine to get what we really want. But this view of God always fails when we are confronted by a God who is completely outside of our control. And He smashes our idols.

Embracing Tension & Trust

Where the book suffers is that it sometimes skirts around the larger reality of “Plan Bs”—that God has no “Plan B.” Not for our lives, not for creation. Maybe it wouldn’t have fit the tone of the book, but this is something I would have appreciated seeing delved into a little more explicitly.

There’s a tension between how we see our lives play out and God’s ordaining all things before the creation of the world that is, frankly, hard to understand. But it’s a tension that we live in and must embrace.

We can get so focused on the “I don’t knows” that we can start to assume that God doesn’t know, either. Fortunately, Wilson reminds readers that there’s a difference between understanding and trusting. “Trust is what we need when we don’t have understanding,” he writes. (p. 225)

Desperate for Relief

I wish books like Plan B didn’t need to be written. The suffering we will all endure while living in this fallen world is unbearable without Christ.

Plan B is a reminder of just how desperate our situation is, and how utterly unprepared we are when suffering comes.

I wish that books like this didn’t need to be written; but I’m glad that some are.

A complementary copy of this book was provided for review through Thomas Nelson’s Booksneeze Program

Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books for adults and children, as well as multiple documentaries and Bible studies. His latest book, I'm a Christian—Now What?: A Guide to Your New Life with Christ is available now.

Reader interactions

3 Replies to “Book Review: Plan B by Pete Wilson”

  1. I finished the book and I thought it provided me with great revelation.  The great “ah ha” moment for me was towards the end when God showed me that Plan A doesn’t exist since we can’t control the future or how others will affect us, our selfish Plan A can turn to a very disappointing Plan B if we forget about our Faith!  I look back and think, I never thought I would be where I am at today considering, X,Y,Z but my faith has kept me going.  God’s Plan is much bigger than your plan!  The book is somber, yes, but where there is Faith; there is Hope!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Chris; definitely people need to read books like this at some point in their lives. One of the most neglected areas in our maturation in Christ has been building a theology of suffering (which is why we see so many books with titles like “Where is God when it Hurts?”).

    Probably the best one I read before going through a season of extreme suffering was How Long, O Lord by D.A. Carson. It’s wonderful preventative medicine.

    Thanks again!

  3. I am just finishing this book, I absolutely loved it, it spoke to me in so many ways and addressed a couple of passages in the Bible that have recently resonated. That would not be so remarkable except that I am so freshly relearning my relationship with God, with new eyes, having been ‘following my idols’ for some years. I think everyone will need this book at some time in their lives. Thank you to Pete Wilson for opening up his life and giving us a reason to hope and for all the right reasons. I first saw him speak on television and he is fun to listen to and to read and yet the wisdom of God’s love comes throught on the most elemental level.

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