Thinking ahead, planning. These are things that require predictability. Without knowing with a degree of certainty how your days, and weeks will unfold, planning seems to be a waste of energy and time.

With the war in Ukraine now reaching 50 consecutive days, one approaches planning with a degree of skepticism, if not hopelessness. For westerners, whose lives have been bench-marked by the clock, calendar and alarm bells, living an unfolding organic life is a foreign experience. What’s next is what’s next. We can plan, we can attempt to execute said plan, but there comes a point when the forced outcomes are just too much work, and the disappointment of failing to meet those objectives is real.

I don’t know what’s next. Russian troops exited rather hastily from the Kyiv region, only to re-group, re-arm in the Donbass region for what looks like a strategic push to ‘liberate’ the coveted industrial heartland of Ukraine. Evacuations have been ongoing for the past two weeks from this area. Many villages are now abandoned, with the exception of babushkas who refuse to leave. What will come to these folks in direct line with the incoming battle? Does Ukraine stand a chance, the sheer numbers of Russia’s army, air power, military resources.. logically would suggest this will be a war of attrition, with Ukraine suffering the brunt of this fabricated hostility.

What if this war drags on for another year? What if an ongoing war is exactly what dictators relish and embrace as means of securing their teetering, fragile power? What then? In a scenario like this, where war becomes the new normal for months ahead, what’s next for:

  • Refugee women and children scattered abroad.
  • Elderly trapped in war zones.
  • Our home town in central Ukraine and the friends and communities in the rest of Ukraine? How do they survive, work, eat?
  • Missionary families uprooted around and inside Ukraine?
  • For the rest of the world? Do they simply keep watching the news, or eventually just turn away?
  • Charities that serve Slavic culture, does the mission change, adapt, innovate? It seems almost all charities I know have become swallowed up in humanitarian efforts, and addressing human suffering.

What’s next for our family? We have to get visas here in Romania. We have only 45 days left by law, before we have to leave. We have a pathway for getting 1 year permits, this is our plan. Plans, but so much depends on what’s next. Or does it?

As I consider what’s next for our family, and consider the rational potentialities with this war, I’m reminded of the surprising ways of God. Many-a-kings had their best counseled plans upended. The tides of this evil could very well be turned, a new pathway emerge for Ukraine, even Russia. We are so focused on physical military might that we can forget there is an agenda, a way of the Spirit in motion in this world, a war behind the wars. What’s next could surprise us, send us back to the drawing board.

Perhaps the best place to be is in prayer, in silence, listening, and navigating by faith, not by sight. I vacillate between trying to discern spiritual things and considering intellectually the variables. We really can’t ‘not’ use our minds, our minds are our friends if renewed, washed and regenerated by the Spirit. Surely we can come alongside the Spirit with our question of what’s next, and be participating in the unfolding reality that is in the heart of God. None of us know this perfectly, neither do I believe everything is perfectly set – we’re invited to pray, to join in this unfolding reality. One thing I do know, is that the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy, so whenever the kingdom of Jesus is advancing, these things will be seen and experienced.

Until then, we live for today, laying down our what’s next, and trusting the goodness of our Savior to reveal the light we desperately need on this darkened path.