It was my first trip to Uganda. I was part of a three-days Pastor’s Conference and was bringing the morning and afternoon training. And each day the same Ugandan Pastor would finish off the day with what we call in the west, a holy-rolling spiritual encounter (to the extreme).
It wasn’t really my style. I didn’t even understand it all the way. There were mixed messages, parts that made sense to me, then parts that made no sense at all. Yet I was determined to learn and simply waited on the Lord to explain the elements of which I was unsure.
I wasn’t even so sure of the gentleman himself. For there were mixed messages simply in the way he greeted and communicated with me. I am sure he was not too certain about me as well.
But with three days to hear, see, and witness each others hearts we came to a tentative agreement of sorts between us, (all of this of course in the unspoken realm of body language and spiritual authority).
If nothing else I had seen and experienced through a simple handshake that this man had a profound anointing of the Holy Spirit. So even though all the parts didn’t make complete sense to me, I was quite aware that I was in a completely different country and culture and knew that God would look different there.
I was eager to learn.
My second trip to Uganda had this gentleman and myself in ministry alongside each other for another number of days. I became more used to his very loud and exuberant demonstrations about the Lord, and he seemed to get used to my slightly quieter yet strong way of doing things.
Our rapport and respect began to grow.
Keep in mind that we could not communicate. He spoke virtually no English and I of course spoke no Ugandan.
And yet, despite this the Holy Spirit began to grow us in sync with one another. When I was preaching and drawing near to praying freedoms and healing he would get to his feet bouncing in anticipation as the Spirit would fall heavily amongst us. I began to really enjoy him.
One of my last days of that trip I was at this gentleman’s church. I’d spent two days at each church I visited and it was no different here.
He introduced me to his congregation with respect and a simple, “This is a powerful woman.” And I recognized in him a growing understanding that spiritual authority does not have so much to do with volume but with something much deeper. He was learning from me as much as I was learning from him.
Near the end of our first day he made the announcement that next day he would be anointing and praying over people in regards to their problems.
I thought to myself, “Gosh I have some problems! I am going to have to make sure that he prays for me.” All the while calculating the risk of ‘going down’ in the Spirit (on that dirt floor) and who knows what other potential oddities. But it didn’t matter. For I’d seen that this man was anointed of God and I could definitely use some of that blessing over me.
Simply put, I could use more of God.
The next day arrived. I spoke in the first session, and as we came to the afternoon prayer time I was ready and excited about being prayed over.
As with most times we had olive oil for anointing during prayer, and his church was no different. Into a bowl he poured olive oil, ready for anointing all those who wanted prayer.
Yet before I could catch my breath, he had placed the bowl of olive oil in my hands and was on his knees in front of me, waiting for me to pray and bless and anoint him.
I was surprised to say the least.
Turns out we had both been thinking the same thing. Each of us wanted to make sure the other prayed for us.
I prayed over him, anointed him, and then the other leaders came and also made sure I prayed over them. It took some intention to say the least to make my point of, “Please pray for me too” as I got on my knees.
All this is but one story of mutual recognition of spiritual authority that took place on my journey’s in Uganda. There were many.
What these experiences feel to me are the essence of what the Bible is speaking of when it says ‘submit yourselves to one another’.
Submission is a little understood word. We use it all the time to justify keeping others low and in their place. I am pretty sure in fact that much of our understanding of submission in no way accurately represents the heart of God.
Rather than having anything to do with position or title, these mutual submissions were moments when we recognized the spiritual authority each carried and we mutually came under each others anointing for blessing.
Simple moments of equipping and bounty poured out from the Lord through and over each other. Moments rich in tangible lessons of the essence of submission that speaks of and accurately reflects the generous nature of God’s heart.
It is a place of settling into the anointing of each other. Where we say, “I recognize God in you. Please pour what you have of God over me.”
Theses mutual submissions mark an intimacy with the Lord. In them we are marked by a pouring down of our Holy Spirit. By them we mark each other with respect and honor.
We are all strengthened and touched to the core of our beings.
And that is a grand understatement.