My husband and I don't make many plans. We have an encouraging saying between us: "What happens, happens." Maybe it comes from being in Africa for a while, but this attitude is also a part of our faith that we share in our family unit of two.
Well, actually, I shouldn't say that I don't make plans--I am a list writer from way back and my background in project management automatically causes me to think ahead and plan for any eventuality. But if my experience, especially in developing countries, has taught me anything, it is to be prepared, willing and flexible to drop Plan C for Plans D, E or F.
Nigel and I don't make plans in that we don't place all of our hopes on long-term dreams or lock ourselves into concrete plans for the distant future. But we do dream and we have so many ideas for the future; we just concentrate on maintaining our flexibility and willingness to alter those dreams and ideas according to opportunities that arise.
Opportunities come and go. We choose to take them or leave them. By accepting an opportunity, we make the commitment to embark on that short journey, that next project. Opportunities are just one of the many ways I believe God knocks on our door; and some of the most exciting opportunities are those we would not normally imagine for ourselves.
There is a freedom to not relying on fulfilling long-term plans and not limiting the concept of happiness or satisfaction to the attainment of those ideals. I can concentrate on fulfilling short-term commitments and feel free to dream of possibilities that might eventuate into Plans J or K, leaving longer-term plans in God's hands.
In a culture where we usually ask our teenagers "Where do you want to be in five or 10 years?" and adults are bombarded with guilttrip marketing for financial planning and the like, it can be difficult to find room among our own hopes for the future, for God's plans for our future.
From my small rural high school in southern New South Wales, I had visions of a smart business and success in the city. I would never have planned to spend the early years of my career in some of the most remote and forgotten places on earth.
I would never have planned to experience offering street kids in Rwanda life skills, or to be the vehicle for reuniting a teenage girl with her only living relative. Nigel would never have built the second high school in southern Sudan to offer an alternative future to child soldiers.
We wouldn't have considered that we would participate in the commitment to peace by repairing war-damaged houses in ethnic Albanian communities in the Balkans. I certainly would have laughed if you'd told me that I would find myself in Afghanistan, training women engineers to return to the work force after five years of oppression.
Perhaps we would only have dreamed of contributing to the new nation of East Timor by providing piped water and toilets to isolated schools. And we did not plan to assist Sierra Leone refugees returning to their communities with water and reconstruction after 10 years of rebel war.
We are by no means evangelists, but by leaving ourselves open to whatever opportunities might come up next, willing to be just a small cog in the wheel, we have been so fortunate to positively impact many lives.
Compared to the life eternal we are promised, our mortal life on this earth is short. So much to do, so many people to see! There's little time to fit God's plans in between ours.
We don't make plans. What happens, happens.
So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing? . . . So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will brings its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:25, 34. Rebecca Koolik and her husband, Nigel, are based in Sydney, New South Wales, and are both engineers who have been working in humanitarian aid in several different countries over the past four years.