When we were preparing to move to Africa (a place where Marc had been several times, but I…never), I knew something about it. I saw pictures, heard stories, and got some common-sense advice and encouragement from folks who had taken the journey ahead of us. So I knew something about what to expect, and as best as I was able, I was prepared.
But in so many ways, Africa has been a surprise. And though I was prepared, and the transition has gone well, I have been meditating lately on the difference between “knowing” and actually experiencing.
When I explain to women the change that the Lord has worked in me spiritually, I tell them that for many years of being a Christian, the message of the Gospel was informational but not transformational. Moving to Africa has been somewhat the same. I was prepared…but actually living out the realities of what I was mentally prepared for has transformed me in many ways. And I am sure the process is not yet finished.
For example, I knew I would be doing laundry by hand. I had some idea of how to do it and what it would be like. But actually using up 2-3 precious hours each day to fill up almost three full lines of clothes has changed me in ways that, if I actually tried to explain it, would probably seem silly. I knew we would be simplifying our diet…but if you had told me that there would be some days that I would give anything for a hotdog or a soft-serve ice cream cone, I would have laughed. Because, after all, I “knew” that following Christ came with sacrifices…I was (at least mentally) prepared for that…and I also “knew” that we are not of this world and that we should set our minds on things above and that if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. But actually living those words? Transformational.
There is a wide chasm between information and transformation. Believing is one thing, and living what we believe is entirely another. But if we truly believe, it should, indeed, change the way we live.