Every Sunday afternoon, I take time to review the previous week and plan the week ahead. It is a discipline that has been a tremendous help to me over the years in being proactive with my responsibilities.
Sometimes, however, a well-planned week gets rearranged by an emergency or an all-consuming need. I’m in the midst of such a moment as our community mourns the loss of LASD Sergeant Steve Owen who was killed in the line of duty. Our church has the privilege to serve his family and the law enforcement community in response to this tragedy, and we are grateful.
Changes of plans don’t only happen to pastors. They happen to all of us at different times and in different ways. What do you do when you are in the midst of an already-full week and circumstances outside of your control slash through your schedule?
Remember the sovereignty of God.
This event may catch you by surprise, but it certainly didn’t catch God by surprise. Remembering His goodness and sovereignty over your plans will help you to be flexible in setting your plans aside to meet the needs of others. Trust that He will give you grace, and remember that He knows the details of how this change will affect the rest of your schedule.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.—Proverbs 3:5
Remember others who are hurting.
It’s easy to get so caught up in how unplanned events or emergencies affect our schedules that we forget to give genuine compassion and practical care to those around us whose entire lives were just turned upside down because of tragedy.
Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.—Romans 12:15
Remember to give thanks for unsought opportunities.
I remember when our grandson, Chandler, was in the hospital this past summer how many people with open hearts we were able to share the gospel with. Chandler’s days in PICU certainly weren’t in my schedule, but I thank the Lord for people saved or in some way touched with the love of Christ because of them.
If God has sovereignly allowed your plans to be changed, you can rest assured that He is giving you opportunities to minister in ways you hadn’t planned—opening doors you couldn’t have opened.
And…they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not…. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.—Acts 16:7, 9
Remember to pray.
Pray for grace to be a minister of God’s love. Pray for those who are hurting. Pray for Christ to be magnified. Pray for people to be saved. Don’t get so caught up in the frenzy of this urgent moment that you neglect the most powerful resource on earth—prayer.
Pray without ceasing.—1 Thessalonians 5:17
Remember to seek the filling of the Holy Spirit.
Without the power of God, our best efforts to serve others fall flat. With His enabling, we are able to give the comfort of God and the gospel of Christ.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;—Ephesians 5:18