Are You Leaving the Door Open for a Third Way?

Have you ever had your plans altered or challenged? Sure you have! We all face that in life. But what about those plans you meticulously thought out? What about the plans you spent hours, days, weeks, or even years putting together? And right when you are ready to launch your plans, God throws you a curve.

Sometimes it’s a small adjustment. Perhaps you were looking in one direction, and God took his hand and placed it on your chin to pull it slightly left or right for a different view. My kids used to do this while I was holding them and not paying attention to their words.

Several years ago, I spent two days with a coach to develop a life plan. I had become restless with my leadership and wondered if God might be calling me to a different experience. For two days, my wife, Stacy, and I sat with our coach. He was great! He helped uncover a few blind spots I had been hiding or avoiding. When we left, we had a plan. It was clear, concise, and exactly what I needed to do, or so I thought.

Shortly after, God unfolded a completely different plan.  

I am reminded of another alternate plan Jesus unveiled for a royal official in John 4:14–54.

Jesus was in Cana of Galilee, and a royal official’s son was sick at Capernaum about twenty miles away. I can imagine the royal official leaning on his last hope. He probably had the resources to pull together the best medical help for his son. But for whatever reason, it wasn’t enough. Perhaps his wife, the mother of the child, said, “Go find this man named Jesus and bring him back to heal our son . . . now!”

So the royal official heads out for a long twenty miles.

I bet he rehearsed his speech over and over on his way to Cana. He needed to be persuasive. After all, Jesus was very popular at this point in his ministry. How would he convince him to travel twenty miles out of his way to heal his son?

What if Jesus had other plans?

The plan was simple. Jesus follows him to his home, and his son will be healed. Jesus doesn’t come back, and his son dies. The thought of returning empty-handed without Jesus by his side would be devastating.

The royal official arrives in Cana. After a brief encounter with Jesus about needing a sign to support a belief, the man makes his request in verse 49: “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

The royal official had a plan. All Jesus needed to do was follow the plan. Jesus needed to come back to his home and heal his son.

And Jesus replied in verse 50: “Go, your son will live.”

But wait . . . this was not part of the deal! Jesus’s healing required his presence.  

That’s when Jesus introduced a third way.

A third way that accomplished what the royal official wanted, but without Jesus needing to be in the presence of his son. The royal official never considered that option.

As I reflect on the life of Jesus, his life was dedicated to third ways.

The virgin birth.

His willingness to eat with sinners.

His teaching through parables.

His choosing a group of twelve who were not the Harvard graduates of their day.

The raising of Lazarus.

His death.

His resurrection: Perhaps the most significant third way of all.

So, when you are convinced you have the answer to your plan, don’t forget God might provide a third way for you to consider. Why does he do this? I don’t know, but I’ve often believed God tends to let us know when our plans are limited—when our dreams aren’t big enough. Those are the times in my life I find myself saying, “Wow, I never thought of that solution.”

Back to my story.

I returned from my life plan trip with my three or four action plans ready to implement. But over the next two years, God had a different plan.

He introduced to me the idea of writing a book called Blind Spots. About halfway into writing the book, God challenged me to leave my current, “safe” job for one that would be hard and challenging. One that might not have a safety net. One many people thought I was crazy to pursue, especially at my age. But God’s new plan allowed me to use my gifts and talents to serve him and others in a way I never imagined—helping leaders uncover blind spots within their organizations.

I often find myself saying, “Wow. I never thought of that plan!” So, what’s your plan? Are you leaving the door open for a third way?

Blind Spots Book Cover


Blind Spots invites us to engage in an approachable, logical conversation about what blind spots are, why they exist, how to identify and remove them, how to keep them from returning, and how to point them out in others.

About the author

Tim Riddle

Tim Riddle, MAGL, is the CEO of Discover Blind Spots, whose mission is to help leaders of corporations, churches, and non-profits address blind spots within their organizations. Most leaders are consumed with the day to day and feel inadequate and overwhelmed to address these issues. Having been the Executive Pastor of St. Mark’s Church and the founder and CEO of Riddle & Company, a specialty textile company, (both in Burlington, NC), Tim combines leadership skills, strategic gifts, and a pastoral heart that allow DBS to provide organizations help with the direction and strategy, clarity in marketing and messaging, and alignment in staff that lead to a healthy organization and effective leadership. He is the co-author, along with Fil Anderson, of Blind Spots: What You Don't See Can Hurt You. Tim and his wife, Stacy, live in Burlington, NC, and have four children—Ragan, Carly, Fletcher, and Ellie.

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