The Plan, The Thing, and The Other Things

I like a plan that comes together, don’t you? We all have them. Nicely thought out, supported by research, consultation, and advice, organised and actioned consecutively. A successful plan deserves to be celebrated, gratitude expressed for answered prayers, amazing helpers, and wonderful coincidences where things fell into place in the nick of time, modest recognition of your contribution received. Does that describe your usual experience?

If you answered ‘Yes’, please, oh please, tell me how you do it? I am keen to know because, after years of having one plan after another hijacked by circumstances beyond my control, I think I have lost that plot! Unexpected obstacles thwarted my every move. Nothing happened in a timely manner. Wise advice eluded me when I needed it most. My prayers seemed to ricochet. Without encouraging words from family and friends, I’d be a mouldering heap of blithering self-pity right now (as opposed to the tongue-in-cheek purveyor of philosophical rhetoric on how life really works that I’m trying to pull off here).

I felt like the protagonist in an experimental first draft, the arc of my character development ruled by an unruly pendulum. Who would write me into such a frustrating story? What malevolent writer would drive their precious, bookish creations to the brink of insanity or destruction to reveal truth or uncover meaning or purpose or … Oh. Yeah. I get it, now.

I get it because it’s good writers who do things like that.

And a Very Good Writer wants to write my story—and yours.

A Good Writer whose eyes saw my unformed body, and all the days ordained for me were written in his book before one of them came to be. (Ref Psalm 139:16 NIV)

A Good Writer who knows the plans he has for me, to prosper and not harm me, plans to give me hope and a future. (Ref Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

I get it because I know that Good Writer has a purpose: that in all things he works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Ref Romans 8:28 NIV)

And the plot of his story ends very well for all who trust him to write it because, ‘He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade … you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.’ (Ref 1 Peter 1:3-4, 8-9 NIV)

Are you frustrated by thwarted plans and a confusing life script? I encourage you to hang in there (that’s what I’m trying to do) and trust that God has both the process and the outcome covered. After all, given the longevity and ongoing sales record of his written word, he is clearly an excellent author with a proven track record.

Here’s the thing: Although my plans go awry, my life has purpose and meaning because God created me with his purpose in mind.

Here’s another thing: Discovering his purpose, then walking in it, is proving to be a very grand adventure. It has high stakes and unexpected twists and turns, but it promises an awesome outcome.

And here’s another thing—a concept I learned while attending a Queensland Writers Centre Express Year of the Novel Course led by Veny Armanno—a useful tool for analysing a plot and simplifying or distilling a story into a synopsis. Posited by Tony Earley, the concept says a story need two pieces: The Thing and The Other Thing.

As I understand it, ‘The Thing’ is your story’s central idea or premise which, on its own, may be interesting or relatively mundane, even familiar. For example: Girl meets boy and falls for him.

‘The Other Thing’ is the approach, the twist, the extraordinary thing that gives your story zing, and takes it to another level. For example: The boy is a righteous alien from Krypton and way too busy saving the world from evil to court a brash, female journalist who is forever getting into trouble, but court her, he does. (Yeah, I’m a fan of Superman. And feel free to jump in on the allegory.)

Long story short, I’m trusting my Good Writer to carry me through life’s twists and turns. I’m kinda looking forward to the ‘zing’ that takes me to another level.

Have any interesting things (or ‘Other Things’) rocked your world recently?


(Adapted from my CWD blog published February 2017)

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™