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For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

I have blogged about this passage before. But never in the context of Christmas. This is not one of the classic Christmas prophecies. But it could be. After all, what is Jesus if not God’s plan to give us a hope and a future?

Today I am thinking about this text because of a conversation I had this morning. It was one of those moments when God lets you see all the ways he has been working his plans for you and for the people in the community where you serve – plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future. That doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, it is beautiful to a shocking degree. I have been grinning all day, each time I thought of it.

I have known and loved this verse for years, but today it has taken on a deeper meaning for me. It has become the living word of God, instead of ‘just’ a good reminder. On the one hand, I know to put my trust in God. Of course I know that. I know that God has plans for me. I know that God has good plans for my future. But it is one thing to know it intellectually, and quite another to experience it full-force.

It must have been a little bit like that for Mary that first Christmas. When she finally held her baby in her arms and just KNEW that everything she had been through – the raised eyebrows at her pregnancy, the moment when Joseph told her he’d thought of calling off their engagement, the long, difficult journey to Bethlehem – had been part of God’s plan to change the world forever. I wonder if she remembered this bit from the scroll of Jeremiah as she held her little boy.

My prayer for us all, this Christmas, is that God would reveal His plan and how he’s been working it in each of our lives. My prayer is that we might be touched not by the intellectual notion of hope, but by the living truth of our hope in Jesus Christ. My prayer is that God’s plans would continue to take on flesh and dwell among us.

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