The Better Plan

Leigh Lake Falls, Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, Montana
Leigh Lake Falls, Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, Montana

It’s been a little bit difficult to get into the Christmas season this year.  Besides traveling so close to the beginning of advent, there have been conflicting emotions and events crowding into the season that is usually so full of excitement and anticipation.  We’re excited – it’s hard not to be with the family I’m blessed to have.  But it hasn’t really felt like “Christmas” until this week.

A Christmas ball above a boardwalk in Corbett's Glen, New York
A Christmas ball above a boardwalk in Corbett’s Glen, New York

Yet in the middle of the upheaval and “differentness” that this year has brought, I’m finding that the Baby of Christmas is more real to me than ever before.  Somehow usurping package deliveries and pretty lights is the realization that the baby born in a stable is even more exciting than the glitz and glam that is enjoyable as a side-event to the real Event.

Flowering cactus along the Sarah Deming Trail, Ciricahua National Monument, Arizona
Flowering cactus along the Sarah Deming Trail, Ciricahua National Monument, Arizona

The idea that Jesus willingly gave up everything to accept the limitations of humanity is stunning.  He didn’t have to.  He could have left us in our self-inflicted sin and brokenness.  It wasn’t His fault that Eve was deceived.  He’d even done His part before by instituting the Old Covenant.

But He had a better plan.  That plan would cause incredible pain to the Son of God, and while I can’t find it in the Bible, I’d guess it also caused pain to His Father.  Who likes to see their child go through pain?  I don’t have any kids at this point, but I have younger siblings who I’ve loved and cared for since they were small.  And when one of them hurts, I hurt, too.  But God and Jesus both knew that the pain was momentary – and the reward on the other side was worth all of the pain that would come with their better plan (see Hebrews 12:2).

Wading in Pine Creek, Colton State Park, Pennsylvania
Wading in Pine Creek, Colton State Park, Pennsylvania

There are few things more painful and more wonderful than pure and perfect love.  That’s what Jesus was when He entered the womb of a virgin woman – pure and perfect love.

Arizona Skyrocket Flowers near Atoko Point, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Arizona Skyrocket Flowers near Atoko Point, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

There are times in our lives when we choose pain over the easier way.  Sometimes that pain is not our own fault; others have inflicted it on us.  But we choose what is right – a better plan – because we know the joy or the peace or the better relationship that will be on the other side.  That’s how we live out the pure and perfect love of Christmas: by choosing the better plan, God’s plan, to love instead of hate, work through the pain instead of avoiding it, to be like Jesus.