Like I said, some of us take months to process one mission trip. Here is another reflection from our time in Tiburon this past August.
We were just about to start the evening worship gathering where we would lead a crowd of Haitians, mostly youth and young adults, in worship in their native language. This night gathering would complete an entire day of conference activities all focused around inspiring the young people to find themselves in God’s mission. As I was grabbing my mic, thinking about the lyrics of the first song in creole, I said to myself, “I think we are ready…” The Holy Spirit’s response to me was “you have not been ready all day…”
In that moment, I did what all great worship leaders would do. I led worship anyways!!! It was a tough set. New songs in a language I did not know. It was hot. My vocals were a bit shaky. I could give you hundreds of reasons why the worship set felt forced that night. But I knew in my heart why (at least for me). Somewhere in the course of the day, I settled for less than the mission of God.
On the outside, you would not have known any of this was happening. I was in Haiti, preaching and leading worship throughout the day. I looked like I was on mission. But that day, it was not sacrificial. It was comfortable. The work I did most of that day did not cost me much. Yes, it was Haiti. Yes, it was hot. Yes, I was tired. But it did not cost me anything.
After the worship set, I sat down on a cement step…exhausted from the worship set and convicted by the Spirit. On this particular night, I did not bring the message. One of our translators, Benjamin, a Haitian and an amazing communicator brought a message based on Matthew 28:19-20. He encouraged the young Haitians to get serious about the mission of God and how they fit in it. He preached in Creole, and Mary-France translated it into English…and God was giving me a strong heart check in the midst of it all. I remember the Spirit saying to me, “what are doing? get your head and heart back in this!”
Later that night, I confessed all of this to our team. I told them that it was not so much an issue of what I was doing…by all accounts I was all in and giving everything I had. But the true condition of my heart was I was taking it easy. And even though my easy might be someone else’s nightmare, it was not sacrificial…it cost me nothing. I will never forget that night…the night God told me I was not ready to lead His people in worship. I was not ready to bring a sacrifice.
King David said, “I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” Paul says, “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.” And Hebrews tells us that Jesus endured the cross because of the joy that was set before Him. There is something to the mission of God and the sacrificial life. And sometimes, when I am really listening, the Spirit gently but unapologetically leads me to end of myself.
We have a saying in the ministry circles I hang out in, “when it hurts, you’re close”.