My clothes gripped my body like a second skin saturated with sweat. Some 'community oriented ' sweat gathered together forming pathways like rivers down my back, and all I could do was let it flow! I was working intensely to keep the inflow of water feeding this sweating frenzy full, hoping to avoid the all too common affects of dehydration.
My butt hurt from the hard bench I sat on, my back hurt from all the gymnastics maneuvering needed to get in and out of such a river boat. I had already popped my first dose of Ibuprofen of the day and wondered if I needed to up the dose.
I was tired from an already jammed packed series of meetings, ministry and socializing (extremely draining for an introvert like myself), and I was working hard to keep the focus off my own self, and focus on why we were there. It's not 'all about me', and that's not always easy for our flesh.
I watched the team of young people excitedly disembark off the boat we had just traveled in, and take off into the jungle, unhampered by the heat which was consuming my strength and focus. I listened to them call out to one another full of the joy of adventure, as they made their way forward, without much more than a glance back at the two "old folks" struggling behind them.
I slowly found my way off the boat, through the water soaked bank, over a few rotting logs used as walkways, and into the humid bush. They were long gone in front of me.
I took swig of water, adjusted my pack and girded myself up with a prayer lately becoming more of a ongoing chant of; "help me Lord!" and moved forward, not leading this group from the front, but following from behind.
This trip was all about leading from the rear.
Ahead lay our final destination for the next 36 hours - a small, poor community carved out of jungle. Where we would spend the day and night visiting, playing, talking, eating and ministering.
As I had watched the young adults trek off into the bush, I felt a mix of joy and sadness. Joy that they were embarking on a wonderful adventure and journey with God for which they would forever be changed and stirred, and sadness that my similar adventures for this sort of ministry trek were nearing an end. I had done a lot of them, but knew I wasn't going to do many more.
Leading from the rear means you will eventually be left behind.
Each of us will find ourselves at some point, slowing down, making the adjustments necessary as our bodies decline with age and use. Finding that we just can't do the things we used to do, like we did them anymore.
Everything in me fights this process, because I hunger to be involved in the Kingdom moving forward, taking the former domains of satan for Jesus, and like my heroes "boldly going where no man has gone before!" (Star Trek).
But I know my focus needs to not be in my continued "doing" but in those who will come after me and continue on. An army is only as good as it's replacements.
It's not about me constantly doing everything myself, always in the demonstrating and teaching role. Instead, it is about me stepping back and allowing space for those coming up after me to experience, explore and practice Kingdom ministry themselves, finding my encouragement and support fertile soil for their growth.
That morning, as we left for this particular ministry adventure, I had told the group of young people; "You all know how to hear from the Lord. I trust your ability to discern His Will in what the ministry we'll do will look like for this trip. Go for it. I'll be supporting you and whatever you want me to do, but you've got the lead".
It ended up being a powerful 36 hours of impact and lasting fruit both in the team and in those villagers, and each one of those young adults said those couple of days were their favorite of the trip.
Are you living the adventure in Christ AND investing in those who will have their own wild adventures in Christ AFTER you?
The scriptures say in James 4:14 b; "You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away."
Pretty minimal impact if your only concentrating on your own short vaporous life.
Elijah understood this and invested his time into Elisha who ended up having more than Elijah in power and impact. That's how it should be.
Jesus Himself, powerful and impacting, invested for a few short years into a group of men and women who would take what He invested into them, and increase it. He applies this to us also. It's an amazing scripture;
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.John 14:11-13