Only one more week until chocolate! Yay!
As we begin Holy Week and anticipate the celebration on Easter Sunday, seven days from now, my favourite day of the entire year, I am excited for many reasons. Yes, completing my Lenten fast from chocolate is one of them, but it doesn’t crack the top three. This Lenten season has been a challenging one. Growth of any kind is hard, especially spiritual growth. It hurts.
Since moving to Uganda, God has been breaking down wall after wall of the comfortable house of faith I’ve been building around my heart. We’re back to the foundation. Thankfully, it’s solid and strong, having been built on the Rock that is Jesus Christ. Four years ago, when God basically shook up my life, dumped out the pieces and helped me begin building that foundation, I never could have known the journey He had in store. When Christ promises He will make of us a new creation, He is not kidding. I’ve heard it preached so many times, but I don’t think I really understood what that meant until it began to happen to me.
‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.’ – 2 Corinthians 5:17
I am certainly not the same person I was at 17, just as I’m not the same person who left Canada in January. This transformation is continuous on our journey of faith, once it begins, if we continue to follow Christ, it never stops. Sometimes, it just becomes a more intense time of transformation, and this Lent has been one of those times for me. I’m not even sure where to begin, as I can have no hope of summarizing the past (almost) 40 days in one blog post, but I would like to try and communicate some of it.
It seems as if there’s been a constant battle waging in my own head and heart, sometimes it might even be between the two. Dealing with the daily experiences of living in a new country and new culture so different from my own is not exactly as I expected. Most things aren’t. Sometimes it’s a beautiful and exciting new adventure, and other times it’s a frustrating and stress-inducing hassle. There are constantly interactions occurring that involve much more thought, conscious decision making and awareness than they would at home. For an introverted INFJ personality type like myself, simply deciding where and when to buy bananas can be stressful. Which stand should I go to? Should I look near our house, where I’ve never bought any before or go into town, which is more familiar? Will they know enough English? Do I know enough Luganda? How do I say ‘how much’? Will I have to bargain? I hope not. Then I proceed to rehearse a potential conversation in my head, trying to remember enough Luganda that I won’t even need English, and making sure I pronounce everything right. I love languages and hate being in a foreign country and not even making an effort to speak the local language, but I also hate getting things wrong, and obviously one must get over that when learning a language or you never learn anything. It doesn’t help that I tend to overthink everything either. This may sound silly, and it probably is, but dozens of similar experiences over the week can shake me up a bit. I send up prayers for extra patience, extra grace, extra courage, and especially extra humility so many times a day I lose count.
But, I’ve never been more thankful for my best friend, my constant companion, and my Saviour, Jesus. No matter how many times I fumble and fall, how many times loneliness sets in, and I feel out of place, homesick, different, messy, inadequate, and sinful, He doesn’t leave. He will never leave us. As the ugliest parts of myself are revealed and He makes me aware of each of my sins, He still loves. He is breaking down my walls and building up a new creation, making me more like Him. He is helping me to see others through His eyes, and trust me, that is definitely a struggle some days, but I desperately want that ability. I want to see the good, the beauty, the joy in other people, especially the ones I have a hard time loving.
During this Lenten season, the learning curve has been steep, the road long, but as we approach Easter, as palm branches waved above the heads of the crowd this morning, and holy water rained down, I couldn’t help but smile and rejoice. There is new life coming, a new beginning, a fresh start. For all those who feel weary, who may have given up or forgotten your Lenten promise by now, take heart, we have one more week to renew those promises, to take up our cross with Jesus. The time for song and dance is approaching. There is a God who loves each one of us more then we can even fathom, so much He died for us. As we walk with Him this week up the long and excruciating road to Calvary, then discover the empty tomb, and shout for joy at the Resurrection, let this ancient story become fresh. My prayer this Holy Week, is that more people than ever truly hear the story of the Passion of Christ this year and believe, people of every tribe, every tongue, and every nation. May each of us see with new eyes.
Praying for a blessed and enriching week for each of you my friends!
‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ – John 16:33