A perfect plan & a tree

It seemed like a perfect plan at the time.  An icicle, almost 3 feet in length, dangled perilously from the gutter, directly above the sidewalk.  I could just picture it crashing down, at just the “right” time, when someone was standing underneath.  That icicle was a problem, and I came up with a great solution.  Or so I thought.

Looking around for something to knock it down with, I came up empty handed.  And then I felt my keys in my pocket.  Perfect!  I’ll just throw the keys as hard as I can against the icicle, knock it down restoring safety to our sidewalk, and pick up my keys.

Only, it didn’t quite happen as planned.  My throw was off.  Way off.  I completely missed the icicle, and my keys landed somewhere in, around, or under the tree alongside the steps.  I say they’re there “somewhere” because by logical conclusion I know they must be there…except, I couldn’t find them in the darkness of night.

Of course, that’s the advantage of having 10 kids.  You see tomorrow, my kids will be challenged to a “scavenger hunt” of sorts.  A shiny quarter will be offered to the first lucky child who can find, and retrieve, my keys.  I’m quite sure my keys will be found, and one child 25¢ richer before breakfast!

I bet I’m not the only one who has ever had a “great” idea that didn’t exactly come together as planned.  If you think about it, that’s really the story of our lives, isn’t it?  We make plans, and yet, they don’t work.  “Unearned” problems plague us daily.  Sickness, struggles and sorrow overwhelm us.

God too had great plans when He created order from chaos, formed man and woman in His image, and placed them in His beautiful creation.  But it didn’t take long for those plans to become tangled up and lost in a tree, much like my keys.  But unlike me who had to devise a scavenger hunt game to retrieve my keys, God had other great plans.  His plans were far greater than a game – they were for redemption.

That tangled tree which first represented temptation transformed into a manger – not any manger, but the manger which held a precious baby born over 2000 years ago.  He was Emmanuel – God With Us – and his first earthly bed was nothing more than a cobbled-together feeding trough for animals.

But redemption did not end at the manger.  The tree became once again transformed into a wooden cross – the Roman’s ultimate tool of suffering and punishment – but God’s path toward forgiveness and hope.  With the weight of the sins of the world – my sins and your sins – Emmanuel hung and died on that cross.

But redemption did not end at the cross.  The trees in the garden surrounding Jesus’ tomb witnessed the angels’ proclamation that Christ was no longer held by death and the tomb, but had been risen and was alive!

But redemption did not end at the empty tomb either.  Redemption is offered to each of us, to you, this very day.  Where are you today?  What tree represents your life?  Are you tangled in the tree of temptation, far from His great plans?  Do you look upon a baby laying in a manger, enamored with the story, yet unchanged by its meaning?  Do you stand at the cross, unable to take your eyes from your sin upon His shoulders, unwilling to believe He truly forgives?  Or do you celebrate with the angels, the trees, the rocks and His followers, that you have been redeemed and rescued?

With which tree do you identify?  How has His great plans redeemed your life?