I “Knew,” but I had no Clue…

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.

7 thoughts on “I “Knew,” but I had no Clue…

  1. hey cindy. i’m typing with my left hand w/ ethan asleep on my lap, so i’m going to forgo capitalization :). i wanted to share something with you that seems to fit with your post. i have been reading “we still sin, right?” and i heartily agree. i have long held that christians cannot sin intentionally/deliberately and felt myself an outlier in this conviction. i believe that i have had victory over that kind of sin since the day i was baptized. unintentional, or what we have called “character” sin, though, has been a much slower battle–usually involving years of prayer and the often discouraging sin/repent, sin/repent cycle. the spiritual inventory is very similar in some ways to “sin” and “repentance” studies that we have done in teaching the gospel, but you all include tools for spiritual victory that were new to me. one of those was finding the lie. i have long struggled with impatience with my children (and sometimes husband) when i am very tired, hungry or feel that more is demanded of my attention than i can give at one time. i have apologized to them all zillions of times and sought the lord’s help, but had not really changed. two days ago i searched for the lie. it was so obvious. in my heart i believed that i was justified in displaying my impatience. when i saw it as a lie, my heart was transformed. for the first time ever i prayed with confidence that i had been given the victory in christ. i still feel a little silly sharing my “two-days testimony,” but i have not been the same person. praise his name! even just yesterday he showed me another way in which i needed to be more gentle, but it was a different sin, not the same old one! i see that failing to walk in the victory we have been given is spiritually stunting. i am excited to see where the spirit will lead.

    in his grace, lorna

    1. Lorna, I am praising God for His grace and the power of His Spirit! Thanks so much for sharing your journey and what He is doing in your life. We continue to keep your family in prayer. Any chance we will see you in Africa one day? 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing Cindy. I love reading your posts, it makes me feel closer to you. 🙂 Amen Lorna, don’t feel silly about being excited about your two day victory… it is a victory in Christ! That is the childlike spirit we talked about on Wednesday. -Natasha

  3. What a blessing to be put a position where it is easier to be in the world and not of it. To be put in a place where simple lusts of the flesh like hot dogs and ice cream are not even an option. Don’t get me wrong–those things are not bad. But the lust after them and the lack of self-control that is the temptation of people who have those things at their unlimited disposal– I pray that God sets more boundaries on me and my weaknesses so that I can learn to live more pleasing to Him. Sadly, I feel that is the only way I could obey Him–though I should be able to regardless of my environment.

    I have been struggling, I will admit. I cannot live what I say I believe. I know God calls us to holiness. I know obedience is possible. Do I not love Him enough? Or desire Him enough over my own selfish desires for gratification of the flesh and emotions? Even when I do live for Him, and make the decision that please Him, if I search my heart, my motives seem still only selfish.

    I had a friend encourage me that God motivates us to obey with promises and blessings–God knows he must appeal to that human “self” because He made it and understands it.

    So yes, God promises rewards and blessings for His children, those who obey. Problem is–haven’t you ever had a child who could care less about a reward because it pales in comparison to the desire for their own way?

    I feel that is me–willful and careless. I am so lacking! The best I can do is try to live minute by minute surrendered humbly to God, but that puts me in a hole, it feels like.

    Which I guess is where I am supposed to be. Anyway, I saw your previous commenter’s reference to the book “We Still Sin, Right?” I think I will read it. It has been staring at me from my desktop since I downloaded it months and months ago.

    Thank you for sharing and for your exhortation. It helps keep me seeking Him.
    –Camilla Anderson

    1. Camilla, I love your heart!! A couple of verses came to mind as I read your comment:

      “If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.” (Colossians 2:22-23). Making rules for ourselves may give the appearance of godliness, but often the desire is still there. Case in point is the fact that here fleshly indulgence may be absent…but that doesn’t mean that the struggle isn’t there. One is no better than the other–in both cases, it is a heart issue. Similarly, many people here are poor but poverty does not equal godliness; a lot of people still covet and “would” be wealthy if they could.

      Another Scripture that I love, 2 Corinthians 7:10-11: ” For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.” Our repentance before God should produce a hatred of sin, and a continual desire to walk in holiness. We should strive after perfection (according to the example and teachings of Jesus–Matt. 5:48) but when we fall short, we are cleansed by our confession through the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:9). In you, I see the earnestness and zeal that Paul talks about. Be encouraged, and persevere! And definitely read “We Still Sin, Right?” 🙂

      Also, an interesting thought from one of my FB friends jumped out at me this morning: “A friend of mine was complaining recently about the fact that he just couldn’t seem to quit offending people or sinning in his words, thoughts and actions. I suggested that he might want to focus less on trying to stop sinning, and focus more on truly loving God and other people. (Galatians 5:16)”

      Continuing in prayer for you!! ((HUGS))

  4. So helpful! Thank you so much! That really confirmed exactly how God was starting to lead me–stop focusing on my sinning (I was beating myself up like a pitiful, whiny puppy with its tail between its legs), and instead focus on loving God, letting Him love through me. Refocus my vision to things eternal and set my affections there.

    I get upset about my sin because it is a worldly sorrow. My focus is wrong about it all. I focus on the earthly rules and consequences and the repercussions that are brought on my flesh and my life on this earth–that is only a temporary pilgrimmage. I don’t even have to focus on it at all! I can set my sights in eternity, and every time I feel that sinful nature, I can take one step forward toward heaven and leave that mess “behind me.”

    Thank you so much for taking the time to help me. I am very grateful and much helped.

    God bless you!

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