So here we are back in our house at Ciyanjano. The view out my window where I’m typing is incredible and so very African. The sun is just coming up and the birds are going bananas. The air is cool but you can already feel the heat of the sun even though it’s still a sliver on the eastern horizon. From my desk I can see children in their uniforms walking to school on the other side of the steam, acacia trees, palms, bananas, giant cactus and further out, the scrubby green hill that the locals call “the mountain.”
What surprises me most is how totally normal this feels. How much this strange place feels like home. Of course it was just a few weeks ago that we were eating an amazing breakfast at the Mt Bakery with good friends and walking the streets of Bellingham, breathing in the cool air and the brilliance of a thousand leaves changing colors. That also felt like home. One of my favorite songs I sing the kids is an traditional song that goes, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing though. My treasures are laid up somewhere, beyond the blue. My savior beckons me from heaven’s open doors and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.” I think it rings so true for me because it’s so so easy to fall in love with the things and places of this world - after all, God made so many beautiful and lovely things.
Coming back to Zambia this time I’m far more aware of what we are leaving behind. During our first term we lost years of time with friends and family. We missed out on births and weddings. Graduations and funerals. We missed out on celebrations and mournings. Our kids could be in great public schools. We could go to the beach a couple of times a year. We could have the kids in karate and I could ride a motorcycle without fearing for my life every moment. My parents are getting older and I could be spending more time with them, letting them have more time with their grandchildren. This time I feel the great weight of what we are leaving behind to serve the local church in Zambia.
When I was a new Christian I had this thought in the back of my mind whenever I was having doubts about my faith. The thought was this, “Even if this whole Jesus thing is not true, at least I’d be living a good life where we serve others and stuff, so no big loss.” A few weeks ago at Oikos, our pastor Pete preached from 1 Corinthians 15. Paul says that if Christ is not risen than we are to pitied most of all. This really struck me for the first time in light of our imminent departure. Our radical call as Christ followers comes at a cost. This is not new stuff; I’m not striking out in new territory, Christ himself called his followers to take up their cross and follow him. A life that is completely under the will of God is not just living a life that proves Christianity is just a way to live a better life now. It’s living a life that points completely to our belief that Christ is who he says he is and he has done what he says he’s done. And we actually believe that to the extent that if we have lived our life to Christ and he is not risen than we have lived as fools. And the world should see us as fools until they believe.
So I’m praying that the Holy Spirit will fill me up when it’s 95 degrees in our bedroom at 11pm and the power is out and the bats are flying around our living room. When we’re pulled over for speeding when we’re going under the speed limit. When we’re sweating our way through an afternoon at immigration. When we're missing friends and family and our home church. When we miss weddings and births. Praying that I would by contented and joyful with wherever God would have us and that I would not love the world or any place in it more than I love my savior and the place he’s preparing for me when the work of this life is over.