I was once talking with a worship leader who never picked out his set lists in advance during the week. He would show up to church on Sunday morning, “see how the Holy Spirit led him”, and pick his songs at the last minute.
It was as if the Holy Spirit didn’t know on Monday what he would be doing on Sunday. This may be true of humans, but it certainly isn’t true of God. God, in his sovereignty, knows all things. What may be hidden from us is not hidden from him. For me, this past weekend was a supreme reminder of that truth.
Late Saturday night, a dear man in our congregation who had served as our senior warden (an elder-like position in an Anglican church), and been a great encouragement to me and countless others over the years, tragically died as a result from complications from heart surgery. This particular surgery is successful 99% of the time. This was one of the 1%.
I didn’t hear the news until about 30 minutes before our service. This wasn’t nearly enough time to change any of the songs, and thankfully, because of the Holy Spirit’s leading, I didn’t need to.
Our pastor announced this news to our congregation after a few opening songs, and it was a shock to people. He wisely reminded us that because of this man’s faith in Jesus Christ, he was now a part of the company of heaven, gathered around the throne of God, worshipping at that very moment. And, he said, if Mike could somehow be aware of what was going on on earth, he would tell us to “get on with the praise”. With this, our opening time of singing continued.
Here are the three songs we then sang. I picked them all the Monday before.
1. Revelation Song
Focusing us on the unfathomable greatness of God, seated in on the throne, surrounded by “rainbows of living color, flashes of lightning, rolls of thunder”, with all creation singing “praise to the King of kings”.
2. Before the Throne of God Above
Reminding us that before this awesome throne of God we have a “perfect plea”, Jesus, because of whom “no tongue can ever bid me thence depart”, and “I cannot die”.
3. All to Us
Reminding us that Jesus is all we have now and forever, closing with the truth that “when this passing world is over, we will see (him) face to face, and forever we will worship. Jesus you are all to us”.
These songs provided a powerful way to respond and process the news of a tragic death in light of the good news of the Gospel.
And I can take no credit for choosing them intentionally for this purpose, since I obviously had no idea what would take place just 12 hours before our service. But God did. One gift of being led by the Spirit is that we can trust him to lead us in the path of wisdom, even in choosing songs. The Holy Spirit led me, six days in advance, to choose songs to help the congregation respond to an event that none of us would have ever predicted.
Having said all this, there are certainly times I’ve prayed over something, chosen a set list, felt a great peace about it, and then at the very last minute or during the service itself, because of the leading of the Holy Spirit, made a change. God moves in mysterious ways and we can never presume to have it all buttoned down in advance. That’s foolishness.
But, it’s equally as foolish, if not more so, to think that things are hidden from the Holy Spirit, therefore to get the latest updates from him as he becomes aware of current developments, we can’t plan in advance. Pray and plan. Pray and plan. But be willing to lay the plans down if and when you need to.