The Plans We Don’t Understand
Plans…we all make them, we sometimes change them, some of us love them and some of us hate them. What comes to your mind when you think about plans? Some of the most frustrating times for me come when I try to organize something, and things don’t go according to my plans. One of my favorite scriptures is Jeremiah 29:11, “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I think I love this verse so much because it is a reassuring reminder that even when I don’t know the plan, have a plan, or if the plan I thought I had fails…God has a good plan for my life, it’s not to harm me, but it’s a plan that I can trust…and the outcome is good…and best of all…God’s plans, unlike mine, never fail.
When I think about the ULTIMATE plan that God has, not just for me but for all mankind, I think about the plan of redemption through Jesus. But as I was reading the Christmas story a few months ago, it hit me that even the greatest plan in history, God’s plan to redeem you and redeem me, was a lot more complicated than what we boil it down to in our version of a cute little Christmas story.
Now many of us have read the story in Luke of the birth of Jesus, or maybe seen a cartoon depiction of this story or a Christmas play, and we love it, I mean its just so awesome. There’s a young girl, a baby, and a manger and these cool guys that bring baby Jesus all of these gifts…its just perfect!!!! Or is it? We’ve wrapped this up into this cute little story but lets take a look at the reality of what’s going on here….let’s insert ourselves into this plan by putting ourselves in the place of Mary and Joseph.
First we have Mary, a teenager, not married yet, but engaged to her dream guy. She’s already said yes to the dress and compiled the ultimate Pinterest board that is sure to give her the perfect wedding day. But one day, as she’s pondering what shade of pink her bridesmaids will wear, an Angel of the Lord appears to her and says “Hey guess what, you’re about to be pregnant”…whereto Mary replies, “um no I’m not, that’s impossible”….and he says “oh yes you are….and not only that…you’re going to be pregnant, supernaturally, and it’s going to be God’s son….Jesus…the One that you’ve been hearing about that will be the savior of the world.” Talk about an unexpected deviation from your plans! Not only does Mary have to tell her fiancé (he could’ve had her killed for this) she has to tell her parents and everyone else! Who is going to believe her? And she has to be responsible for carrying, birthing and raising the Son of God!!! And you think you’re stressed????
At this point in the plan Mary could have thought, this is too much, too hard, too big, not me, I’m out, choose someone else. How many of us have ever thought that about something that God’s asked us to do? Not me God, it’s too hard, it’s too different, its too radical, I’ll be made fun of, they wont understand, I can’t… its just too big. I’ve been there! But I also know that God knows you better than you know yourself and if HE says you’re the one, then you are the one. He sees the potential, He doesn’t see you like the world sees you and best of all…He doesn’t expect you to do it alone, He just needs you to be willing and obedient to do what He says, and He will take care of the details.
Now that we’ve established part of the beautiful, miraculous and grace filled plan of God, let’s Put Mary on pause for a minute and skip over to Joseph. Here he is, just trying to get married, start a little family, finally found the woman of his dreams, waiting patiently to marry her and all of that…you know seal the deal…then one day, Mary comes up with a little announcement…. “Hey honey, …I love you so much, you are so handsome and I am so lucky to have you, you are bae for life, and I will be the best wifey to you EVER!!! But there is just one tiny little thing I need to tell you…”I’m pregnant and I promise I didn’t cheat on you, it’s the Son of God…the Holy Spirit got me pregnant and it’s all apart of Gods plan…..” “Say WHAT????” At first he freaked out a little bit…and I don’t really blame him.. I mean, seriously Mary? And in those days and in that culture this was a big deal…not like today. It was very shameful, very embarrassing, and normally Joseph would not have married her and he could have had her killed if he had wanted to. But friends, THIS is where knowing God and really trusting him comes into play…because sometimes things that don’t make sense to the world are apart of Gods plan for your life. I’m going to say that again….and let this thought really sink in…. sometimes things that don’t make sense to the world are apart of Gods plan for your life.
But after a few more conversations with Mary and a little convincing from an Angel, Joseph too comes to terms with the fact that we are having this baby…and we are raising this baby…even though we have no clue how to raise a regular baby, much less the SON OF GOD!!!! But hey, God’s angel told us we were chosen and we can do it….. NOW lets talk about the part of the plan that gets really inconvenient!!! Because how many of you know that sometimes God doesn’t do things the way we think or even hope He will. But how many of you also know that God’s ways are higher than our ways…that His plans are way better than our plans…even if we don’t realize it at the time?
So now we come to the part of the plan that gets really inconvenient and a maybe, dare I say, frustrating? The journey….on a donkey…….that ends in Mary giving birth in a barn. People call it a manger, and that sounds a bit fancier…but…no…it’s a BARN!!!! Now, I’ve had three babies and its not a real easy thing…but at least I was in a nice, comfy, clean hospital. But I am not trying to have a baby in a barn. Now if I’m Mary, I’m just being honest…I’m thinking, “OK God, I’m having this baby, it was embarrassing and most of my friends don’t talk to me anymore or even believe that I’m telling the truth, but I’m ok with that….but now I have to ride on a donkey, while pregnant, and you didn’t even book me the VIP sweet in a hotel so I could have Your baby in comfort and luxury? You know everything and You knew we were coming to this little town….so after all I’ve done for You couldn’t You at least have made this part work out for me? Do you not love me??? Are you not good? Are you even here? Did I miss your will???? What is going on here???
There will be times, as a Christian, when you are following the Lord, when you will wonder, “What’s up with this plan?” Or maybe “Where are you God?” “Did you forget about me?” “Do you still see me?” “Why did it have to happen this way?” Maybe some of you are in a season right now where you just don’t understand the plan. You find yourself asking God, “Where are you?” “What are you doing?” “I give up.” But I am here to tell you that the plan has a purpose and even the pain has purpose.
This brings us to the most difficult part of the plan. Mary raises this child, he’s a toddler, then a boy, then a teenager, then a young man…and we usually save this part of the story for Easter, but you see this is all in the master plan of God’s story, a story that includes us!!!!! Because it was not enough for Jesus to just be born, to live a sinless life on earth and do miracles…for the plan to be complete, to still be affecting our lives today… Mary had to watch her baby, her son, her heart….be crucified on a cross, and die. The part of the plan that seems the hardest is the part of the plan that shows the depth of God’s love.
The Plan has a purpose. The pain has a purpose. That purpose is YOU.
So in this traditional but very non traditional story, I want us to see that even in God’s greatest plan of all times….it wasn’t always easy, painless, understood, logical…to us. And in YOUR story…..it wont always be traditional, look like you thought it would, or look like everyone else’s. It wont always be easy, painless, understood or logical…to us. But one thing that you can trust…is that GOD does have a plan for your life, that God is good, He can be trusted and He does LOVE you. And even when you don’t understand or see how all of the pieces are going to fit together….if you will trust God’s plan, trust God’s process…and let Him guide your life step by step…the end result will be beautiful. God is with us, He has a plan, we can trust Him with our life.