When plans change

But all things should be done decently and in order.
1 Corinthians 14:40


The church had a plan.

Plans are good. God can work through plans.

     But sometimes . . .

The second service began yesterday like the first. Song #1. Song #2. And now Song #3.

We sang the bridge of Beautiful Exchange.

Holy are You God
Holy is Your name
With everything I’ve got
My heart will sing how I love You

We sang it again, adding all parts.
And sang it again, full force.

Each time, something deeper seemed to be happening.

So we kept going, worshiping and praying and listening to others share more of God’s truths in fresh ways, ways unplanned. It was obvious the Spirit of the Lord was present, and also obvious that the official order of worship had changed for this service.

     But there was something else.

Something also important. Something that would make room for this kind of thing (and other new things) to happen again.

It was how the church responded to the difference. And was allowed to respond.

Pastor Mark acknowledged what was going on. That maybe it was a little unusual for many. Maybe a bit awkward even.

But instead of squashing it and saying we’re sorry we veered from today’s plan and we promise to never make anyone uncomfortable again, he took the opportunity to teach about it. To say that it’s okay. That it’s actually biblical.

     To explain that order and freedom can coexist.

Oh my. Yes!

It’s not either order or freedom.
It can be both.

When things don’t go as we scheduled or as we are used to, perhaps that’s how God planned it all along.

Sometimes he asks us to ease up from our own plans so we can finally work his instead.

He doesn’t imply don’t make plans. Rather hold those plans loosely. Stay open to change. Give the Spirit room to breathe in ways we couldn’t have planned or imagined.

That’s what happened yesterday.

And that’s what can happen in small or big ways every week, in every life, when we follow him instead of demanding he follow us.

After Pastor Mark finished talking, the church worshiped a little longer in song. I glanced at the clock. Instead of our usual 20 minutes to sing, it’d already been an hour. The good plan had changed into an even better one.

Yes, do things decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40).
But also yes, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Those aren’t opposites; they are partners.

The tighter we hold on to God, the looser we grip our own plans.
And the more we follow him, the freer we are.

Whether it’s in a job. Within a relationship.

Or through a regularly-scheduled worship service on an irregular Sunday morning.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17

* * *

Is it painful to you when plans change?

When have you let go of your own plan to discover God had a better one?

30 thoughts on “When plans change

  1. Dianna

    I have to be honest here, Lisa, and say that yes it is somewhat painful to me when plans change. I came from a family with a long history of always following the plan. When I married I married into a family that held loosely to plans and in fact preferred “spur of the moment” living. Trust me, it was quite a painful adjustment for me. And then when I met Jesus I would still get upset when things didn’t go as “planned”. Little by little I am learning to not hold so tightly to those plans because He always does things better! Thank you for this thoughtful post, Lisa.

    1. Lisa notes...

      If I don’t like the original plan, I’m quite happy with change. Doesn’t bother me at all. But if I like the status quo, please leave it alone. I suppose we’re all like that to some degree.

      Growing up, my family was much like yours–we were planners and generally stuck to the plan. Maybe that’s why I’m more comfortable now having a plan, even if I know it’ll be subject to change over and over. Jeff is a little more flexible than I am, but not wildly so, so I didn’t have as much of an adjustment when we got married as you did.

      But you’re right–little by little we all have to learn not to hold too tightly to our plans because they’re never as good as they could be until God gets up in them. Thankfully he preempts them as necessary!

  2. Linda@Creekside

    ‘The tighter we hold on to God, the looser we grip our own plans. And the more we follow him, the freer we are.’

    You’ve said it all, Lisa. Man, we’ve gotta loosen up on our own agendas, preconceived notions, endless schedules. And let Him take the reins.

    Would have loved to have shared this experience with you …

    1. Lisa notes...

      Letting him take the reins is something I still can fight though; not sure why I can be so stubborn about it. But thankfully I’m learning to loose up a bit more, the older I get. There are some benefits about aging. 🙂 Wish you could have been with me too yesterday morning. It was a marvelous morning with our marvelous God!

  3. Mia

    Dear Lisa
    I don’t think for one moment that your service was in any way not orderly! You all sang songs to praise our Pappa and as long as it comes from sincere hearts hearts filled with love for Pappa, it brings Him glory! I think Paul was admonishing the Corinthians for their drunkenness and orgy that was happening at their meetings. They even spoke the other languages that was clearly understandable in which they cursed Jesus. Now that, dear one, is a Babylonian confusion! I know that music and singing have a way of putting people on an emotional high and that is why everyone should look at his own motives and heart. But you didn’t act disorderly in the slightest.
    Blessings XX

    1. Lisa notes...

      Thanks, Mia. I agree with you that our service was still orderly. I’m not sure what everyone there thought, but hopefully the majority saw it as a blessed time of worshiping our Maker. It was definitely a precious day to me that I’ll remember for a long time.

  4. PL

    That sounds exciting! Although I can’t see me going to a church, singing, etc., any time soon. The freedom in order is harmony, isn’t it? Or is it more?

    > Is it painful to you when plans change?
    > When have you let go of your own plan to discover God had a better one?

    I don’t really make plans. I’ve had that kind of beaten out of me. A bit of Monday morning sunshine there LOL

    I’m only gradually getting the hang of listening to God for guidance, or it feels like inviting God to come with me. Exciting in its own quiet way.

    Thank you


    1. Lisa notes...

      Our service yesterday might have been a bit much for you at this point. ha. But “church” isn’t necessarily about sitting in a building singing together on Sunday mornings anyway. It can be that too, but the greater part is our interactions with God and each other in our everyday lives. And there’s lots of freedom in that, so much so that no two lives look the same.

      “inviting God to come with you” – I pray for good things to come of that. And not already being hung up on your own plans is a great place to be.

      From what I hear from you, I sense God is definitely on a journey with you. It’ll be unique and personal to you and him. Yes, it is exciting! Keep me posted.

  5. Joe Pote

    “Rather hold those plans loosely. Stay open to change. Give the Spirit room to breathe in ways we couldn’t have planned or imagined.”

    I love this post, and these words, in particular. Yes, we must plan in order to accomplish things. And Yes, we must be always prepared to deviate from the plan.

    How difficult the deviation is for me depends on how much investment I have in the plan and how drastic the deviation. I tend to be very flexibile in making plans. However, once decisions have been made and I’ve moved from planning mode to action mode, change becomes much more difficult for me.

    However, I’m also learning that all the frustration is for naught, because nothing ever goes exactly as planned, anyway. The planning is a charted route that must be adjusted along the way.

    Blessings to you, this morning, Lisa!

    1. Lisa notes...

      “The planning is a charted route that must be adjusted along the way.” Yes. And the more I’d remember that, the less frustrated I’d get. 🙂

      I tend to not get as frustrated, though, when *other* people’s plans change–like yesterday’s order of worship–but if *I* had planned it, I wonder how I would have felt…. I still have to work on that loose grip thing.

      Have a great week, Joe. Glad you stopped in.

  6. Beth

    It’s always amazing to be a part of a corporate worship service where the church leadership allows those kinds of interruptions from the Holy Spirit. I’ve only been in a few services like that but it’s always a blessed time. Now, if God tries to interrupt my personal life, well, that’s not always met with as much enthusiasm or cooperation! ha! But I’m working on it and am grateful for your reminder, Lisa, that it is a very good thing!

    1. Lisa notes...

      I haven’t been in many services like that before either. And in ones where I have, there were usually sufficient complaints from a few afterwards that the leaders nixed any chance it’d ever happen again. Sigh. So yesterday was refreshing on so many levels, most of which I didn’t go into here, but ones which I’m deeply appreciative of!

  7. floyd

    God’s spirit trumps habit and tradition every time! I’d like to think that I’d be good with it… I’m sure I’ll get to find out soon enough. Like the perspective and lesson, Lisa. Being obedient to the spirit of our Lord is infinitely more important than following some man made plans.

    1. Lisa notes...

      “Spirit trumps tradition” – Amen to that, Floyd. Love it. That should be cross-stitched and hung up in every church building. 🙂 Doesn’t mean it’s always easy, but it should be priority.

  8. Barbara H.

    I love the balance you have here. People have such a tendency to either too rigidly one way or too free-form the other way, but, as you said, “To explain that order and freedom can coexist…It’s not either order or freedom. It can be both.” Love that.

    I don’t mind a change in the service when it’s obviously God-led. I have to admit I am less happy about it when one of the pastors wants to change things just to shake them up so we don’t get into a rut, I guess because that looks like man changing things just for the sake of change. But I have to remind myself that maybe God is in that too, that some people like change every once in a while or may like things ordered a little differently than I do.

    1. Lisa notes...

      Yep. Often you see groups gather at one extreme or the other–either very rigid or else minimal structure. And people can be comfortable at either extreme, I suppose. It’s hard to find that right balance. But when we do hit it, it’s a sweet spot!

  9. tcavey

    I am a planner, but God is showing how awesome it is to allow Him to make changes. I’m learning to hold my plans loosely and allow Him the freedom to alter my plans. He knows what’s best. I’m just not always the best follower…but His grace is enough.

    1. Lisa notes...

      I’m a planner too so I know what you mean. Every day I have my little to-do schedule and I want to work it. Learning to hold those plans loosely can be the hardest thing for me.

      “…but His grace is enough”–I thank God for that!

  10. Dolly@Soulstops

    How awesome that your Pastor went with the Spirit’s leading…what wisdom and freedom…it is often painful at first when plans change, but if I have first surrendered to God, then I can trust His plan is always far better than mine…blessings to you 🙂

    1. Lisa notes...

      Yes, it was awesome to see our pastor actually embrace what was happening and encourage it. I loved watching him run over to hand his microphone to different people. I was as equally encouraged by his willingness as I was by the others who were speaking.

      Too often I’ve seen leaders become intimidated in these kinds of impromptu situations, as if things were about to “get out of hand” and we were all about to slide down that “slippery slope” to chaos. But where the Spirit leads, we’re safe to follow.

      Welcome home! Look forward to hearing more about Guatemala from you and the team.

  11. Nancy Sturm

    Beautiful things can happen when people let go of their strict plans and time frames and wait for God’s spirit to move. Thanks for this lovely reminder to loosen the hold on our plans and wait for His.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m right there beside you, Amy. I’ve been known to shed real tears when my Outlook calendar went down with all my beautiful plans. (Which God did restore, in his merciful grace! {smile}) Thankfully he keeps working with us anyway.

  12. laura

    I always say that plans are good but we must leave room for the Holy Spirit! It sounds like you all did just that and kudos to Pastor Mark for encouraging that kind of Spirit-sensitivity. We are uncomfortable with varying from the plan sometimes aren’t we? Lovely way of seeing, Lisa.

  13. Janis@Heart-Filled Moments

    Hi Lisa, even though my life is not as structured as it should be I still have a hard time when something I planned changes. I think in my younger years in the Lord, I might have been more flexible and accepted the change as part of God’s plan. But the older I get, the more I hang onto the plans, the structure, the relationship I do not want changing, and even the worship service. As things seem to spin out of control, the tighter I want to hang onto them. I can see where I need to return to trusting God more and relinquishing all to His plan.
    Thank you for this post.

    1. Lisa notes...

      I think we all struggle to differing degrees with this, Janis. And most especially when life starts getting crazy is when we want to hang on the most to something stable that we can control. But nothing on earth qualifies for that. ha. “Relinquishing all to his plan”–yes, that’s the best idea for all of us. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *