Every ministry trip that I take is the same. The Lord begins to prepare me some weeks in advance. I feel the glory and presence of God pressing upon me, filtering through me, washing me.
The journey to the country of destination is bathed in peace and quiet. I am not an extroverted person and the thirty-plus hours of travel prepare me with gifts of silence and simply being before my God.
The deep work to come requires a pause in the normal, a stepping back from interaction, and a garnering of inner reserves. This trip to Mozambique was no different.
It is a deeply subjective process. Known mostly to myself, the changes I feel on the inside of me are deep and preparatory, yet perhaps unrecognizable to anyone looking on.
At the end of each journey it is a process in reverse. It was my last Sunday in Mozambique and we were in Muda. I’d preached the morning sermon and the singing was bookending our time.
In the beauty of praise and the presence of our Lord I went to my knees and began to feel the glory and power of God leave me. It is a subtle thing, but I recognize it by my own tears and worship of thanksgiving to the Lord I can feel myself becoming simply Cyndy once more.
This happens every trip. Every time. God rests heavily on me for a specific time and purpose, and then eases off and allows me to simply be myself. It marks the end of specific ministry and declares a well-done on the time.
My next two days, Monday and Tuesday I’d already set aside as just time for me. We have been heavily travelling for two full weeks and we were all exhausted. I knew I needed the time to rest and to do nothing before the long and equally exhausting trip home.
Monday I spent at the house in my shorts and a sloppy t-shirt. Shocking everyone with the whiteness of my legs I simply didn’t care. It was hot, I was tired, and I simply sat and listened to music on my iPod all day long.
God rested around me, we sat in comfortable silence, wept in undeclared longing, visited in gentle waves of compassion for each other. It was a beautiful day.
Tuesday I woke able to write. And so for some hours began telling the stories of my time there, catching with words movements of the spirit almost too deep to catch. It will in fact take me some time to share it all.
That afternoon after I’d eaten my lunch I let Pastor Daniel know that I was heading for a nap. And though I had been very explicit in my desire and plan for Monday and Tuesday to be just for me, he informed me that he had planned a trip to his church and then the hospital that afternoon to pray for someone.
I was taken aback. Yet quickly recovered. I said ‘No’, I’m not going.
“You knew Daniel that I was taking these two days for resting and nothing. I’m not going.”
And as I settled into my nap it became clear to me that the real issue was that I had made a commitment to myself. One I must keep if I ever intended to be able to keep my commitments to others.
So I kept my commitment to myself that day. Said ‘No’ to the noble, righteous, religious, opportunity to pray for someone.
Basic principles of long-term ministry are this:
1. Come under the anointing and glory of God as he chooses to descend on us. Cooperate with the Spirit of our Living God.
2. Enter the work fully and effectively as long as that particular work is there. Once the presence of the Lord eases off, do not add to the work. Rest in the work accomplished. More is not always better.
3. Keep our commitments. This begins with the commitments to self. Do not underestimate the importance of integrity with oneself as that which empowers us to keep our integrity with others.
4. Remember, always remember, that we are ordinary people with an extraordinary God. We are not the Christ. We are not the Saviour. All good things are not ours to do.
To sum it up:
Work in sync with the Holy Spirit and not in tune with our own best thoughts and wishes and desires. Good works are only those that amplify the heart and voice of God. It is just so easy to go beyond the explicit direction of our God.
Restraint and wisdom must go hand in hand in all things.
My journey’s home are marked the same each time as well. Hours and hours of silence, introspection, resting. The 30-plus hours of travel home are exactly what I need.
I don’t talk to a soul, other than those I order food from, or to say to my seat mate on the airplane, “Excuse me, I need to get out to use the washroom.”
My work is done. I need not prolong it. God doesn’t ask me to. For he is taking good care of me too.