But it wasn't alway so, as many of my friends know. I was filled with hesitation and resistance about a long-term relocation to Burundi. Even as we made the decision, prepared our things for storage and moved out of our home, I remained far from ready. My head was in agreement that this was a good thing to do, for so many reasons. But my heart remained so attached to things here, and unready to relinquish them, even for the best of reasons.
Then came Lent. Ash Wednesday was a turning point for me. I decided to fast from complaints about Burundi for Lent, realizing how often I complained about things there, dreading the move. I selected this fast from complaint in the hope that God would reshape something in my heart, that maybe if I quieted my own negative opinions that He would have more freedom to renovate my internal environment. So I went to the Catholic cathedral down the street for Ash Wednesday mass. The cathedral is under construction - so the exterior is done and beautiful, and internal walls are painted rich, saturated colors, but the rest is undone. There is no gold-gilded altar, no icons, no grotto crowded with votive candles, the dome has no mosaic yet... in process. And somehow I felt so at home as I walked in and dipped my fingers into the basin of the holy water... because I recognized that I, too, was under construction. From the first psalm we sang to the last prayer we prayed (The Lord's prayer), during the imposition of ashes and slow procession toward the communion table, I wept. Something in me broke, and it was a good, clean break that left me feeling open. I emerged from the service with tear-stained cheeks, and have not complained about Burundi since. I have not even wanted to... it is like the complaints just evaporated amid that service.
So Lent for me, this time, has not been a burden of fasting but a freedom to embrace something new God is doing. I have never had a Lenten season with so much levity! So resistance that once had residence in my heart is gone - I am so ready to travel to Burundi. I am eager to see what is ahead - could be new friends, time for reading and reflection, ways to serve others, ways to love my family deeper... all or none or more than the above. But the good news is that I come ready and without heaviness. I am grateful that for now, I can travel with joy.
Often times we do not have enough resources or personal readiness to follow to the places Jesus invites us to travel. I am learning to admit that truth, and then surrender to the One who has unlimited resources. He is committed to completing the good work He began in me, so in due season He delivers the needed readiness for the road ahead. I can witness to that... He supplies a readiness that frees us to move forward with Him.
Did I mention that we are so very ready to go to Burundi?