God has always had a plan for us. God created each and every part of His marvelous universe with a very specific plan and purpose in mind. This of course is true for each of us. I often argue that God’s plan for us is unique in some ways but the same in other ways. The specific part of God’s plan for each individual is determined by how God created us. Our unique spiritual gifts, hearts (passions), abilities, personalities and experiences (SHAPE) work together to help us understand and fulfill God’s personal purpose for our lives. Yet it all begins with God’s general plan which only finds its fulfillment in Christ Jesus. In Ephesians 1, verse 9 & 10, Paul tells us that God made “…known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

In His creative genius, God was not surprised or discouraged by the fall of man. Man’s sin was all part of His plan which would be settled once and for all on the cross of Calvary. Jesus was not an afterthought. He was the prime purpose and prime motive and prime initiative of God to communicate to a sinful man the depth of His love for us. Paul explained all this in great depth in the book of Romans. The verse that sums this up for us all in Romans 5:8, “but God demonstrates His own love for us in this; while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” It doesn’t matter how deep our sin has taken us or what specific sins we’ve indulged in, God calls us all home. He waits for us in our sinful wanderings. He watches us try to build lives on wood, hay and stubble. He weeps as we find it all meaningless and useless. Money does not bring happiness. Pleasure only pleases for a moment and then the moment is gone. Power and prestige is no longer than the red carpet at the academy awards. It always has its end and leaves us with nothing of true value in the end. We try to find our purpose in the things of this world and end up lost, lonely, dejected, and empty! But God “demonstrates His own love for us in this…” The only foundation, upon which we can build a truly meaningful life, is the foundation of God’s love for us expressed on the Cross.

Many will remember the 60’s song “Tie a yellow ribbon round the ole’ oak tree.” The criminal who served his time in prison for the many crimes of his life was on the bus returning home. He had written a letter to his loved one explaining his release but knowing he’d not been the person he should have been, he requested that if she still wanted him back she was to tie a yellow ribbon around the tree. If he didn’t see a ribbon he’d go on by and not bother her again knowing that he was the one to blame for his loss. Of course the whole bus cheered when they saw “a hundred yellow ribbons around the old oak tree.” Listen, God loves each and every one of us much more than a hundred yellow ribbons. God’s astounding love for us was hung on the tree at Calvary. It not only communicated God’s deep love for us and his desire to welcome us home, it also made the payment for the crimes we’ve committed in life. Amazing grace…. How sweet the sound!