What? No plan?


I’m a planner. I like the known. Map it out and work it through.

But God won’t always cooperate. He makes his own plans and doesn’t always fill me in.

So I had to do it it his way again last week. Just show up. Totally unplanned.

I received a call to make a call. I didn’t want to. I knew it could splinter a hundred different directions. But for once I didn’t overthink it and I just dialed the number.

The response was immediate: “Can you come over for a few hours?”

Because God knows me well, he’d already planned it out so I’d have no excuses. I had to go.

And to pray all the way, “Lord, I’m only showing up. That’s it. Anything else you need, bring your own power to get it done.”

I arrived to a messy situation. Tensions were high. Relationships were straining. So the plan is . . . ? Who’s got the plan???

We had to wing it. Let the plan unfold with another phone call here, a text there. Another drive and then another.

One step at a time. No end game in sight.

Just show up—put my body in the space—and let God take it from there.

And God did. Because he does have the plan. Always. He knows it and he works it. He can do it with or without our help, but he’d prefer our cooperation for our own good.

The circumstances I found myself in stayed messy all night, even though we worked out a plan a piece at a time. When I finally returned home, I still had questions about it—maybe even more than when I started. But I didn’t have doubts that God had had a plan, even when I hadn’t.

We don’t have to know the plan. Or have the skills or the confidence to carry it out.

Or even the courage. Just the presence. With a dash of faith, God will do the rest.

If we’ll just show up. Even when we have no plan.

* * *

Do you like well-laid plans, too? Or do you work better spontaneously?

Where do you need to show up this week? Please share in the comments.


46 thoughts on “What? No plan?

  1. Linda@Creekside

    I’m with you, Lisa. I like a good plan. It makes me feel safe, let’s me breathe deep, and feel like I’m just a bit in control.

    Even though I’m not!

    But to grasp that precious verse in Jeremiah – ‘I know the plans I have for you …’ That needs to be front and center in my life. Not my calendar or my precious to-do list.

    Thanks for inviting us to follow Him more ardently …

    1. Lisa

      We’re on the same page, Linda. I have to remind myself my calendar is not my God. Our sense of being in control ourselves is just an illusion, and a poor one at that. I should constantly thank God that he doesn’t let me be in control! 🙂

  2. Holli

    Great reminder. Learned this lesson big time when trying to start a family. We had a plan…but we learned that sometimes our plan is not *the* plan.

    Also, love the part about just showing up. Takes some pressure off…thank you.

    1. Lisa

      Ooh, yes, planning our perfect little family is a great wake-up call for how little in control we really are. Good one, Holli. Just showing up for his plan does take the pressure off for me, too.

  3. Dolly@Soulstops

    Awesome post and reminder of how God always has a plan if we would just follow Him into it…I am guilty of wanting to plan, but I am slowly learning the benefits of just going with the flow of His plan 🙂

    1. Lisa

      I think it’s particularly hard for those of us who are planners by nature–which is a good thing and a God-given gift (in my opinion! ha). It’s only when we prioritize our own over his that we get in trouble…and I’ve been slow to learn that myself, too.

  4. Beth

    Yes! I’m discovering this too, Lisa! Us, control-freaks (well, at least that title fits me! ha!) need to lay our plans down minute by minute! Your words and insights are a blessing to me today, my friend. Hugs to you!

    1. Lisa

      I’ve been called that name myself so you can keep the “we” but it has been awhile, thankfully. 🙂 I can only imagine how difficult a time I would have with all you’ve been going through. You’ve set a great example of letting go of your own plans and trusting God’s bigger plan instead. I’m so glad your radiation is complete!

  5. Sheila at Longings End

    But God won’t always cooperate. He makes his own plans and doesn’t always fill me in.

    Your words here, Lisa, RESONATE loudly, I am afraid. And probably because I am fearing then I want to control and have God work it out according to Sheila 🙁 But God will not be dethroned and has His always LOVING ways to get our attention which sometimes feel anything but. But we just keep showing up with willing hearts and God works all for GOOD! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    1. Lisa

      “His always LOVING ways”

      Yes. That’s what I love being reminded of, Sheila. His ways are always good and loving because that’s who he is. Even when we don’t “feel” like it’s true, it is. Blessings to you, friend.

    1. Lisa

      I hear Isaiah 55 in your comment, Nannette–I love how often God has used it around me since I’ve been trying to memorize it these past weeks. Thanks for letting him use it through you!

  6. bluecottonmemory

    Lisa – I have back-up plans for my back-up plans. I try to insert breathing room into the schedule because I have learned something will come up that gobbles the breathing room – and I am still able to be on schedule. Your post reminds me of yesterday – and something a bit unplanned – and your message hit me just when I needed it. I need to let Him run the plan – and just show up – with a heart full of love and faith. You don’t know how much I needed this right now! Thanks friend!

    1. Lisa

      This made me laugh – “I have back-up plans for my back-up plans” because I know exactly what you’re talking about. I love using my online calendar everyday because I can readjust my to-do list on the fly as the day goes on. For years I’ve been trying to add more margin to it and I’m not sure I’m much better, but God’s not giving up on me yet. There’s always tomorrow, right? 🙂 Or better yet, right now and tonight.

  7. Sherrey Meyer

    I’m an organizer and planner of all things! Most of the time. Lately, however, God has been intervening quite a bit. Like yesterday . . . you’ll have to read my post shared at Michelle’s. But I’m learning, just as you and many others, that God’s expectations for my life are much different than my own. Giving over and letting Him take hold isn’t always easy, but I’m finding it’s necessary! 🙂

    1. Lisa

      How you reacted in that unexpected “adventure” is a testimony to God’s faithfulness and working in your life, Sherrey. That’s the goal for me, too. I can see progress (although not complete success) so I thank God for that. I know he’ll keep giving us plenty of opportunities to grow in it more and more. 😉

  8. Barbara H.

    I very much like to know what’s ahead, what the plan is, what I’m a supposed to do. It’s been a struggle to learn that just because I am uncomfortable in a situation doesn’t mean it’s not God’s perfect will for me to be there. But I have to admit too often I look for excuses not to jump in (someone else would be better, know what to do, etc.)

    1. Lisa

      I know what you mean, Barbara. Sometimes I think my default answer is “no.” I’m making progress when it’s at least, “I’ll think about it.” ha. Straight to “yes” is a lofty goal. But God! He is always working to transform us, using the way he made us. Thankful for that.

  9. Vickie Morris

    I so fit the comments above. Control freak- back ups- lists of lists .
    Someone shared this one time and I remembered it due to my warped sense of humor .
    “You make plans…. God laughs”
    I don’t think it fits the loving God I know .
    Three months to recover from the 2 surgeries.
    Even with recovery strong chance I cannot return to the physical aspect of my job.
    My apartment is furnished by my job.
    I am slowly accepting I have 3 months to let God lead me me by faith thru recovery, how to move, a place to live, and a new job .
    He is definitely saying; patienvce my child. 😉

    1. Lisa

      I agree with you, Vickie, that I don’t think God laughs at our plans either, although he may smile in amusement from time to time at the intricacy of mine. 😉 You are in the midst of such a trial of the first degree right now, my friend. I am sorry that your recovery chances aren’t more optimistic. I will be praying for you! Not only for physical healing, but also for God to give you grace all along the way to help you each day as it comes. Patience is never easy but I know you are a strong believer in the One who will be helping you.

  10. Jen Ferguson

    Oh girl. Do I know what it means to show up without a plan. Or rather for my plan to be “God, please show up!” But after walking though that last week – such extreme non-planning for me for my Monday bible study class — I feel so much more release over all. I can ALWAYS trust God to show up, whether I have a plan or not. He’s so faithful like that!

    1. Lisa

      and your non-plan last Monday turned out beautifully! God always has something up his sleeve, yes? 🙂 Love that he is faithful! Now just to trust him more with it…

  11. Dawn

    Well, Lisa. I break out in high blood pressure and the desire to bolt without a plan. It seems God — and my kids — give me more and more opportunities to learn how to trust without ramming my own plan right through. God’s is always better. But sometimes it’s a nail-biter. This is always a challenge for me, too. I’m not sure when I stopped liking surprises….

    1. Lisa

      God definitely uses kids to break us out of our plans–totally agree with that. I’m thankful that God used my daughters (and still uses them) to teach me how things will work out without me having to be in control of them!

  12. Rick Dawson

    As much as I love my routines (and, as a coder, sub-routines 🙂 ), I know that when the bell rings on my clue phone, I need to just answer it – what? Leave early and go meet someone who isn’t sure if they want to live? Are you kidding? As a friend said years ago, you can think anything you want, so long as the words that come out of your mouth are “OK, sure – where?”, and that the actions you take next support those words (something about the “let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No’ rings a bell here)

    Great post, Lisa – thanks!

    1. Lisa

      You’re one of those kinds of people I really admire, Rick. I want to be more that way. I was proud of myself Sunday for answering the phone when I knew it would be a messy situation, and actually saying “yes” to the question without any qualms about it. (Often even when I say yes I’m still hesitating on the inside so that was huge! ha). I’ll take victories where I can get them. 🙂 So thankful for your ministry to those who are hurting the most. It is SO very, very needed. May God continue to bless you as you bless others with your yes’s.

  13. Laura

    Oh, my…you are talkin’ to a planner — in a family of planners. I don’t know if you remember when our son was in a terrible car accident, but talk about plans going out the window! God taught us lots of lessons that year. The blessing was, I felt like what you wrote above: “But I didn’t have doubts that God had had a plan, even when I hadn’t.”
    Thanks for coming by today!

    1. Lisa

      Yes, Laura, I do remember when your son was in the wreck! You amazed me with your faith through it.

      I know you have to be a planner to be a teacher–some planning is necessary and good. 🙂 But knowing when to release those plans is the tricky part for me.

      I know you’re continuing to have to hold plans loosely as you wait for your new grandchild too. Exciting things to come!

  14. Dawn St Amand Paoletta

    I am such a Planner-holic. But God has dealt graciously with me. He often usurps my plans! lol. I just pray, plan and say, Hey THere, You get the last word, ..I mean You are God! 😉 Hugs, my Friend. All our well laid plans are put to rest in Him…

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      A planner-holic. Ouch. I fit that label too. But yes, knowing that it is God himself who always get the last word does take the sting somewhat out of having our plans usurped. 🙂 Thanks for this, Dawn.

  15. Betty Draper

    Good post Lisa. Reminds me of how often we faced that “no plan” issue when we served overseas. Because everything was primitive you could not count resources you can count on here. And people living in that kind of environment are looking to the white faced to have a plan. God has come through so many times for us. Love the way you said it, all we need is his presence and He has promised to never leave us, even in the messiest situation.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I remember being told often that “flexibility” is key when going overseas. And I was fine with it there. So I’d do well to keep that same philosophy more in mind here in the states too. I’m glad you added that insight, Betty.

  16. Joanne Viola

    As I read this post, Lisa, this is what hit me…. we are the ones who may “feel” like we are winging it but He is unfolding His plan just as He ordained. Our God is never winging it. This post brought such assurance this morning. I am so glad that I stopped here from Playdates this morning! Have a great Tues.!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad you stopped by too, Joanne, and shared this. It is very comforting knowing that God’s plan was Plan A all along, we’re just not always aware of it. In the long run, I’m very glad he’s in control and I’m not!

  17. Jean Wise

    Oh Lisa I am such a planner. I think I was born with a calendar and to do list in my fists, clenching them as my sole possession. I have learned that planning makes me think I am in control, find some meaning, some sense in the chaos when God should be that security, that light, that meaning. A constant struggle that will probably be with me all my life. work in progress…

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I find out just how tightly I clinch my calendar too when my online calendar messes up. Everyone in the family knows to steer clear of me during those times, sadly. But yes, we are works in progress, and even recognizing that we need the work is progress.

  18. tcavey

    I am such a planner. I have back up plans for my back up plans…and God likes to blow them all away!
    He’s great at taking me out of my comfort zone- it’s where HE works best and gets the most glory.

    Thanks so much for sharing. It’s encouraging to know God works in us all and His plan always trumps mine.

  19. lisha epperson

    I like plans and function well with them. But I struggle with the discipline to plan. By Gods grace I function well as someone who can wing it at the last minute. When I’m in a.situation like the one you described Ive learned to roll with it….keeping my eyes and emotions on Christ. Have a great week Lisa.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I love how God makes us all unique. I have friends like you who are good with rolling it and I want to learn more from you all on how to do that! 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Lisha.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Those seasons can be frustrating for planners, but maybe exhilarating for non-planner types? I wouldn’t know about the latter. ha. While it may be uncomfortable for us, those seasons of availability are also usually seasons of growth though, so you’re doing well to just keep showing up. You never know how God is using you among the children in the Bible class you teach or with your own kids and grandchildren, etc. And on your blog!

  20. laura

    I’m a terrible planner, Lisa. But I’m not always good at stepping out of my comfort zone into the unplanned either. You always inspire me with your courage and faith. Keep accepting that call, friend.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I don’t see that I have much courage at all, but I appreciate your continued encouragement, Laura. I love seeing how God can use our strengths/weaknesses to help us see things from others’ perspectives and how we can grow from them.

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