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The Perfect Plan. Anne and I had a perfect plan last weekend. It involved new window shades for the windows on our staircase. It was a plan that was a long time in the making. For months, Anne lurked in the tall grass of the internet. Waiting for the perfect storm of sale price and coupon. And then, with viper-like speed and precision she struck, at JCPenny.com. 50% off plus a coupon, plus free shipping. It was the trifecta of savings, the holy grail of online shopping, beautifully executed.
Then, last Saturday, came my time to contribute. And that proved to be the only variable that Anne didnít account for. The husband factor. Anne took Killian to go get some groceries, and I dragged the step ladder to the landing with the windows. It didnít exactly fit on the landing, but that shouldnít stop me from trying, I mean, what could possibly go wrong with a step ladder unstable on a staircase? Well, about 10 minutes in, we found out. The ladder tipped over and jammed into the wall, and I tumbled down the steps. Not pretty.
The big savings plan didnít work. We got the shades at a deep discount, but add on the cost of 1 new ladder, plaster patch, putty knife, 3 boxes of bandages, and a large bottle of advil, andÖ well, you get the picture. Things didnít go according to plan. And just so I donít forget any time soon, I have some great bruises and scabs to remind me. We wanted so badly for everything to go perfect, but it went off the rails.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe especially during this time of year. There is a certain hope that we have when we unpack Christmas boxes and start decorating our houses. ďMaybe this will be the year everything goes EXACTLY according to plan! This year, maybe what I see and hear will match up with the scene I have in my head!Ē But inevitably, as if itís a law of nature, it doesnít. The tree is too big, someone put the turkey in the oven, but never bothered to turn the oven on. The ornament you canít find, the family member who canít come over, the Pastor who doesnít put the right hymns in the service, the one light that takes out the whole strand! SO MUCH CAN GO WRONG! There are all kinds of ways to mess up Advent and Christmas, itís not even funny.
And Iím going to say, ďgood.Ē Thatís right, ďgood!Ē I canít think of better Advent and Christmas lesson for us to learn than what we learn in those moment. The moments when things donít go the way we expected, or our plans donít work out the way we wanted, or when reality doesnít match up with finely painted fantasies about the season. Good.
Because Christmas and Advent arenít celebrations of fantasies, or wishes, or even our best laid plans. They are celebrations of a very real Jesus, born into a very real world. And a Jesus who does his ministry in ways that often surprise us, sometimes confuse us, and letís be honest, even frustrate us at times. Itís good for us to be shaken out of our self-focus and be confronted by a God who has his very own ways, and means and methods. Ways of operating that are always higher, and better and more significant than our own. And ways that very rarely match up with how we think things should be, or how we would do things, or according to the ways we thing things should work.
Is anyone unhappy with me yet? Weíre not supposed to talk this way during this
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