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For nine months, Patsy made plans for the life growing inside her. This would be her fourth child, and the whole family was looking forward to the day their baby girl would arrive.

But things didn’t go according to plan.

“The moment I gave birth to Tiffany, I knew something was wrong,” Patsy says. “Although the doctor tried to beat around the bush, I knew what it was: our daughter had Down’s syndrome.”

Although Tiffany’s family welcomed her with love, the rest of the world wasn’t always so kind. She endured years of stares, whispers, and sometimes rejection.

Maybe your life hasn’t gone according to plan, either. You didn’t plan on losing your job. You didn’t plan on being a widow. You didn’t plan on your teenager rebelling. You didn’t plan on getting cancer. But we live in a very imperfect world.

This certainly wasn’t God’s original plan. He had a magnificent plan for us, but we ruined it by sinning. But thank God, He found a remedy! This is how it all happened.

The original plan

God’s plan at Creation was a perfect one. He created a beautiful world, and then He created Adam and Eve—in His very own image! Genesis 1:28 says, “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’ ”

Imagine what life must have been like for them in a perfect world. Think of the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen. Even that probably can’t compare to their home, the Garden of Eden. But more important than the beauty is the fact that Adam and Eve were living blissful, sinless lives. They had an intimate relationship with each other and with God. They could walk with God and talk with Him face-to-face on a daily basis.

Until one day---the day that radically changed the course of human history.

The tragic Fall

When God first introduced Adam to his new home, He told him, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (Genesis 2:16, 17).

The couple had the whole Garden at their disposal. God had told them they could eat from any tree they chose. Any tree but one. And that was the tree the devil, disguised as a serpent, used to lure Eve to distrust God.

He lied to Eve, telling her that she wouldn’t die if she ate its delicious fruit. He claimed that God didn’t want her to eat it because if she did, she would become like Him. It’s hard for us to understand how Eve could doubt God after all He’d done for them. But she did. She believed a serpent over her Creator. She took a bite, and then she gave some to Adam, which he ate. And with that, God’s perfect plan was ruined.

He could have said at that point, “Those ungrateful people! I created them and placed them in this beautiful Garden with freedom to do anything they wanted except eat from one tree, yet they disobeyed. That’s it! I’m through with them!”

He could have walked away and left them to their own self-destruction. In fact, that’s right where they were headed. A few years later, their very first son murdered his younger brother.

Take a look at the mess we’re still in today. All you have to do is watch the evening news to know that it’s only gotten worse. People lust, lie, steal, discriminate, hate, and kill—all because of that one wrong choice in the Garden.

Even the apostle Paul, a godly man, struggled with his own sinful nature. He wrote, “I do not understand what I do. . . . For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:15–19).

Have you felt this way too? You didn’t mean to yell at your kids. You didn’t mean to join in all the office gossip. You didn’t mean to visit that Internet site. You didn’t mean to tell that lie. You knew it was wrong, but you did it anyway, and you felt guilty afterwards.

So what hope is there for you and me? If we can’t quit sinning, are we then doomed?

The amazing remedy

Paul shows us the remedy when he writes, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (verses 24, 25).

God didn’t walk away. He couldn’t bring Himself to do that. He loved us too much to turn His back on us. And love compelled Him to create a plan that would rescue us and remedy the problem of our sin.

That plan involved Jesus, who volunteered to come to earth and live a perfect life in place of our failures. Then He died in our place to buy us the right to live forever, if we accept His plan. Sin entered the world through one man—Adam; so salvation entered the world through one Man—Jesus. Jesus died so you could live forever.

Not only did Jesus come to die for us; He came to show us how to live. That’s a part of His remedy. His life was the perfect example of how to serve God, love others, and resist temptation. When we give our lives to Him, He takes away our old motives for living and gives us new ones.

We can’t excuse our sin by saying, “Well, I just can’t help myself. I’m a sinner and I can’t change, so there’s no hope for me.” But there is hope for you and me, because the closer we come to Jesus, the more like Him we become.

My dad discovered this principle after he became a Christian. He had smoked cigarettes since he was a teenager, and he’d tried everything to quit. He knew smoking was bad for his health, and Mom had urged him to quit many times. He tried burying his cigarettes in the backyard, only to dig them up and dry them out in the oven. He tried flushing them down the toilet, only to go out and buy more.

But then Dad became a Christian and realized that he wasn’t taking good care of his body—a body that Jesus had died for. Now he wanted to give up smoking in order to honor God and to become more like Him. But the first day he tried to quit, he failed. Now he realized that he couldn’t break this habit alone. He needed to talk to God about the problem and rely on Someone stronger than himself for help.

So on the second day, he prayed earnestly, “God, I want the world to see that You are real. Even if it kills me, I’ll never smoke another cigarette!” And he never did. This time God gave him the victory.

There is hope for all of us, even now, while we are waiting to be perfectly restored at the second coming of Jesus. As we come closer to Him, we will automatically become more like Him.

So how do we get closer to Jesus? By praying, reading about Him in the Bible, hearing about Him in church, carefully choosing our friends, and loving others the way He did.

If you’ve ever become discouraged with yourself, remember that Jesus forgives. And remember that when He comes again and the Garden of Eden is restored, our natures will no longer be sinful. First Corinthians 15:52 promises that we’ll be changed “in the twinkling of an eye.” And we will get to spend eternity living that way—finally restored to God’s original plan.

Not According to Plan

by Nancy Canwell
From the August 2013 Signs