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On With Plan B

On with Plan B!

By Betsy Kelleher

     Who could have known that the 20th annual Illinois Horse Fair—an event with such huge impact—would be canceled? I surely wouldn’t have paid extra for a rush job on my new book! But things happen.

     The question is: how do we respond to disappointment? How do we accept a change of plans? Always have a Plan B, for one thing. Don’t give in to discouragement and don’t let life’s “stuff” get you down. Keep a balanced perspective. There’s always some reason to keep going. The secret is to keep hope alive within and to look for all the good things we can still enjoy. 

     Tell that to Cherie in South Dakota. She and her husband Jerry had great plans, working to breed “the incredible horses” they now have. For the past three years, they have bred their special stallion Rhocky Rhoad, a beautiful Arab. Cherie says, “I dreamed of THIS YEAR—new Rhocky babies and showing him; I just assumed Jerry would be there supporting us and inspiring us.”

     Jerry, after fighting cancer for a year, went to the Mayo Clinic in March and was told that he had only a few days to a few weeks left. In Cherie’s words, “Life is an ever changing roller coast. Right now I am merely a passenger waiting to see when my feet will touch the ground.” Referring to the well-known poem about footprints in the sand, she says, “No doubt that God is carrying me now; my feet are not in the sand at all.”

     I got word a few days before this column deadline that Jerry went to be with his Lord on March 18th. Please pray for Cherie and if you’d like to check out their website, its

     We all make plans; it is part of life! And sometimes those plans just don’t work out the way we want. That doesn’t mean that God is punishing us for doing something terrible. Remember the story of Job. Sometimes He has a lesson for us within the heartbreak; sometimes He uses our trials to bless others around us. But whatever the reason or the outcome, we must believe that He is able to support us through any trial. Romans 8:28 assures us that “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” We must simply trust and obey.

     Think for a moment how a horse responds to something that upsets his world. If he can, he will turn and run away. In some cases he may choose to fight. But while being ridden, if he has learned to rely on his rider, his master, he will depend on that rider’s guidance. That is the goal of our training, to teach the horse to depend on our guidance instead of his own instincts. And in the same way, God works with us to help us learn to depend on HIS guidance so that HE can help us through those things in life that we may not understand or may not be able to handle on our own.

     It’s how we accept the realities of life that reveals our inner character. Can we face terrible heartbreak with faith? Can we grab hold of His strong hand and hang on tight until our feet once again touch the sands on our own? Life sometimes throws a lot of things at us at once! Whether it’s a test, or a process of refinement, or just the way life goes, we need a source of support. We need friends, and we need to take time to seek God’s guidance. We need to deal with one thing at a time, as much as possible. Find one good solution and go to work. But be careful of “quick fixes” that could add to long term problems.

     This life on Earth will one day end for each one of us. The older we get, the more we sense it! But God has promised to give us life everlasting, to those who come to Him in faith, accepting His provision of forgiveness through Christ. We can know He lives, when He lives within us!

     Easter was early this year. I hope each of us was reminded of God’s love and provision through the truths of this season. Just as the people who waved palm branches when Jesus entered Jerusalem, we expect God to save us from our problems! We don’t always get what we want, however, but God gives us what we need. He gives salvation and abundant life. He gives peace in spite of turmoil around us. He gives strength to face whatever He allows, and guidance through the minefields of today’s world! There is a price, however. We must be willing to let go of our own will and our own wants and yield to His plan for our lives whatever that is.

     Job had plans. He had a big family, and owned many flocks of livestock and a nice home. It was all taken from him. But God restored what he lost and blessed Job. Cherie had plans, to enjoy their fulfillment with a beloved husband. I truly believe that she will find a special blessing as a result of her faith and her dependence on God. She has been an inspiration to me, and I am praying for her faith to stay strong. I feel sure she will know the truth of Proverbs 10:7, “The memory of the righteous will be a blessing,” and she will find new hope and purpose as God carries her onward.

     I really counted on selling my new book at the Illinois Horse Fair. I also thought I could care for four horses while my husband recovered from shoulder surgery. Unloading one pickup truck load of sawdust one afternoon changed some of that when it activated sciatic pain. Was that a surprise! Five weeks of pain has taught me a few things. And even though we bought extra hay to store up and see us through the winter, somehow rain and moisture reached through the tarp that was supposed to protect it!

     Perhaps we all take on too much at one time or another. Perhaps our plans reach out to heights that involve obstacles we must overcome. Sometimes the forces of nature show destructive power in the storms that we experience. Wisdom understands there are limitations to our physical and emotional strength. In His great love, He carries us through our trials when we have lost the strength to stand and walk on our own. And sometimes, in those moments of quiet surrender to the forces beyond our own, we find a greater strength within, born of a precious communion between our spirit and His.

     I must admit I have run ahead of God’s guidance at times, looking for things He might not have planned as best for me. But He has ways of pulling me back to the way He has chosen. He loves each one of us too much to just leave us alone in our misery. I feel sure that the words of Isaiah 41:10 are a special encouragement, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

     The closer we get to that special communion with our Lord, the more we sometimes experience the pull of outer forces. We need to learn to lean on Him the more, for comfort and peace and for strength and guidance. He knows our human limitations. He understands our needs. Sometimes the trials are His way of refining the gold within. Perhaps those trials are a sign that God is at work, remolding and reshaping and remaking our character and inner being. I have read somewhere that God will allow the trials to continue as long as it takes for His purpose to be fulfilled. If that purpose is to bring us closer to Him, then we definitely need to take time to be still before Him and know that He is Lord. If His purpose is to reveal our character to others around us, to be an inspiration to them and to help them find Him, then we must be patient and strong as a good example. We may never know the reason behind the trials we face. But we can know that God is still in control and that He will do what He has promised.

     The two keys to “success” are knowing His great love with inner certainty and a willing surrender to His hand in all things.

(Originally published in the April 2008 issue of the Illinois Horse Network)

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