When I first moved to Kenya, I was tired all the time. Partly because I was recovering from a sinus infection and partly because of the high altitude. I would get winded walking even the shortest of distances. The one mile hike to kibera seemed like a marathon, and I’d barely be able to even stand when I got there. Getting up to my room was a task for sure, walking up the 11 flights of stairs, I’d have to stop midway and by the time I got to the top, I was exhausted. My stamina was limited, and I wondered if I would be able to endure here if I couldn’t even walk five steps without losing my breath.
I’m amazed at how much my endurance has increased in the nearly 3 months I’ve been here. I walk everywhere now, and with ease I might add. I walk up and down hills to get to the supermarket, or mall, or coffee shop. I can nearly sprint up the stairs without even the faintest feeling of exhaustion. I have more endurance for the physically challenging situation where I live. I’ve had to adapt to not only the altitude, but also living without a car, and being forced to either walk or take public transportation. My body has adapted, but more so my faith has adapted as well. I am learning to endure in this Christian race.
When I first came to Kenya, I was ready to change the whole country in one day. Maybe that is an exaggeration, but I wanted action, and I wanted immediate results. I wanted God to reveal His plan for me here, and I wanted to act on it in that second. But that’s not how it’s happened. My mindset was short term. I was thinking about a sprint instead of a marathon. God’s timing is not like our timing. I’m sure in an instant He could open any door for me and give me the means and provisions to walk through that door. But that’s not His plan for me. He seeks for me to endure. To build my patience. To build my faith. To build my trust. He is working, and I see fruits of His work daily, but it’s not instantaneous. Unlike modern photography where pictures can be seen on the spot, God is revealing His picture for my life using film that takes time and darkness to develop. Just like I feel my lungs getting stronger with each breath, I feel my faith getting stronger with each day. Moving to another country, by myself has not been easy. There have been challenges and times of loneliness and sadness, but just like the dark room in photography, I know those times are the places for developing, and when the full picture emerges it will be a beautiful sight.
Paul urged the early church to "run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2). I heed Paul’s advice today, and every day, and I know it’s through Jesus that I will have the strength to endure. This will not be a sprint. It’s a marathon. And my mind, body, and spirit are adapting for the race ahead.