Jesus had a (life) plan

Bedtime theology with the 4 yo... 

(Up way too late chatting)

4 yo: Mom, where God and Jesus come from?

Me: Well, the Bible says at the beginning of time, God was always there. And Jesus was there, too.

4 yo: And then him got born, and he been a baby.

Me: Yup, Jesus was a baby.

4 yo: Wait, Jesus was a grown up before him was a baby?!

Me: That is an interesting point, sweetie. I hadn't thought of it that way.

4 yo: Okay, so first him was a baby, then a kid, then in high school, then college and then him was an angel.

Me: Well, yeah, something like that.

God is abstract, but Jesus feels concrete, especially for children looking for solid examples. That's the whole point of the incarnation (God coming in human form), to give all of us big kids something concrete. You know that old story of the man trying to shoo birds in a barn before a big storm? They don't go, even though they'd sure be better off, and the man wishes he could turn into a bird and lead them. Incarnation is something like that, and we're the stubborn birds, mostly.

Christians will often tell you that God had a plan, generally when something terrible happens to you. I do not personally find this platitude comforting, and I'm not sure it's theologically solid, either. God's general plan: love, peace, community, justice, equity, right relationships, to name a few. Seems like we get a lot of leeway to work out the details. 

Look at the tidy life plan my child has outlined for Jesus of Nazareth. This little timeline reveals more about the privileged assumptions my middle-class child has learned to make than it does about our Lord: first you grow up, then high school, then college. I guess the angel part is a bit unique. What was Mary's plan for her little boy? No mama stroking her newborn's sweet-smelling head imagines pain, suffering or death for her child. We may make plans for our children but they live their own lives. As a parent, I have been wholly unprepared for the simultaneous joy and grief of watching my babies grow and differentiate themselves from me. 

Probably God feels the same way. Does God have a plan for your life? Maybe I'd say God has a dream and a vision, and it's not just about you. It's about God and all people. And when plans flop? I'm not sure it's part of "the plan." But I do trust God is there, and can transform our pain and flaws and sorrows. Concrete example: cross and resurrection. Thanks, God. 


  1. Love this: "We may make plans for our children but they live their own lives."


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