My daughter had a baby two weeks ago. That’s the precious little one, with her big sister, in the picture on this page… and yes, I’m a proud Grandma. 🙂 With her birth, I once again marvelled at the blessing and miracle that life is. Every life is a wondrous gift. Knowing God’s plan for us is a wonderful blessing too.
Sister Michaelene P. Grassli spoke on this topic in the October 1988 General Conference when she was the Primary General President. She recounted a day back when she was ten years old and playing with a friend for the afternoon. They took blankets and crackers out into the hayfield on a warm, summer afternoon in Idaho. When they spread the blankets, the hay was tall enough to create walls around them. The birds were singing, flowers were blooming and it was a wonderful time. In great joy, Michaelene turned to her friend and said, “Don’t you just feel happy inside?”
The friend looked back and said, “No, I don’t.”
Michaelene was shattered by her blunt, almost emotionless statement. “Why?” she exclaimed.
“Because it won’t last,” she said. “You can be happy for a minute, but not for very long. Life just doesn’t make sense to me.”
Sister Grassli went on to say that she didn’t know then what to say to her friend but she does now.
“Our Heavenly Father expects and intends for us to be happy. Man is that he might have joy, the scripture says (See 2 Ne. 2:25). That means ten- and eleven-year-old girls are that they might have joy as well. Life does make sense because there is a plan—a plan by which we may have joy and be happy here on earth and eternally. My friend didn’t know that…
“… we have a choice. We can either choose Heavenly Father’s plan, or we can follow Satan. It’s as simple as that. Now, the scriptures tell us that everything good comes from Heavenly Father and that following Satan brings misery and unhappiness (See 2 Ne. 2:27; Alma 5:40). This is important for us to know.
“Temptation, illness, accidents, and tragedy are part of this life. There will be some tough days in your lives—very tough days. But when you follow God’s plan, you can know what to do, and that’s when you are in control. You can decide whether or not you are going to be happy by making choices that will lead you close to your Heavenly Father and away from Satan. You can decide what you will say and do.
“Every good thing you do in your life is following God’s plan. Every time you are kind to another person, each time you have courage to do something difficult, each time you do a thoughtful act without being asked, each time you say your prayers, each time you read the scriptures, each time you go to church, each time you help a friend—you are following God’s plan for you” (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1988/11/i-will-follow-gods-plan-for-me?lang=eng).
Following God’s plan and doing good things makes us happy. That is why it is often called “The Plan of Happiness.” This is the general plan for all of us. We believe also that we had the opportunity to devise a more specific plan for ourselves in those councils in heaven. James E. Talmage tells us in Jesus the Christ:
“Thus it is shown that prior to the placing of man upon the earth, how long before we do not know, Christ and Satan, together with the hosts of the spirit-children of God, existed as intelligent individuals, possessing power and opportunity to choose the course they would pursue and the leaders whom they would follow and obey” (Talmage: Jesus the Christ, chapter 2).
Many of our patriarchal blessings refer to the plan we each made for ourselves in consultation with our Heavenly Father in the pre-existence. Did we choose our specific challenges? Were we foreordained to certain callings, dependent on our faithfulness? Did we set goals for ourselves and make a plan to achieve those goals? Undoubtedly, we did do some of those things.
History of “I Will Follow God’s Plan”
Sister Vanja Y. Watkins was born in 1938 to musical parents. She enjoyed singing hymns in four-part harmony with her siblings and always knew she wanted to be a music teacher when she grew up. She did, in fact, do that and more. She obtained BA and MA degrees in music education. She was a television teacher and primary grade music coordinator for the Ogden City schools. She became Primary general board Music Chairman and then a member of the General Church Music Committee. At twenty-seven songs, she is the greatest contributor to the Children’s Songbook (Graham: We Shall Make Music, p. 146).
The Primary General Board requested a new class song for the Merrie Miss class. Sister Mabel Gabbot wrote the original text for this song and Sister Watkins was asked to write the music. She was also asked to change a bit of the text but, ultimately, only Vanja Watkins is given credit for the song, although she maintains that Sister Gabbott really wrote the words.
The words in the title and chorus were originally “I Will Follow God’s Plan” but the song was first published with them being only “I Can Follow God’s Plan.” Subsequently, a decision was made to go back to the original words. Sister Grassli announced the change in the same talk quoted from above from the October 1988 General Conference. She discussed the importance of making commitments. We all make a commitment when we sing sincerely the words to this song:
“If I had the wish of my heart, I would hear all you ten- and eleven-year-old girls in the Church right now stand and with one voice say together, “I will follow God’s plan for me.” Instead, as you sit quietly here in the Tabernacle or watch in your stake center or in your home, let us together make that declaration in our hearts, a private promise to our Heavenly Father in this silent moment. “I will follow God’s plan for me.” Only your Heavenly Father knows if you have made this promise, but know that thousands of girls all over the world just now have united with you in that commitment. And I pledge publicly to you, my sisters, that I have made this commitment. I promise you that I will continue repeating it frequently to help me remember. I know God lives and loves us, and I will follow God’s plan for me.
“Now, in a moment we are going to hear Primary girls of the Holladay Utah Region choir sing. You’ll notice that one word has been changed in this familiar song that makes it now reflect the commitment we have made together tonight. I will follow God’s plan for me (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1988/11/i-will-follow-gods-plan-for-me?lang=eng).
Congregation Choir for Primary Arrangement of “I Will Follow God’s Plan”
Our Congregation Choir for Primary arrangement of this song includes an enhanced piano part and a countermelody that could be used for voice or any appropriate instrument (flute, violin, oboe, upper part of piano, bells).
LISTEN to it here with a violin playing the countermelody:
verse 1: voices singing melody
verse 2: voices singing melody and violin on countermelody
PURCHASE it here.
~ Elinor Hamilton