I bet, like me, you’re singing the blog title in your head as you read this…!
My lovely break of a few weeks, the first I’ve ever taken in my ‘ministry’ life, comes to an end this evening. For someone whose life has been fairly non-stop for 35 years, I was concerned that I’d ‘get bored’, ‘get itchy feet’…. none of it! It’s been wonderful. In the past, I’ve done crazy things like… speak in Romania for a week, go straight to speak in Kenya for a week, then, via one day in the USA, speak in Colombia for 3 weeks….4 continents in 9 days, all busy… I used to set myself little ‘private’ goals – it began as ‘I’m going to go right round the world’ in one trip…. that’s happened a few times now! – then it became ‘go to all the continents in a year’, then that became 6 months…. they happened, too, but now, having stepped off the moving walkway for a few weeks, I’ve REALLY appreciated what rest is: I’ve caught up with sleep – funny thing about sleep: I never used to sleep well, I sleep much better now, but, on this break, the more I slept, at the start, the more tired I was. I reckon it was years of ‘backed up’ sleep finding a way ‘out’!
As well as letting go of my diary to let God have more freedom to move in it, I’ve also recognised his voice in telling me that every few months – especially now I’m in my 60’s – I ned a few weeks, here and there, to just STOP. I do get countless invitations: that’s not a boast, just a fact. Once, I’d have tried to fulfill all of them (and often did, like the 4 continents in 9 days trip!): once I came here to live, and begin to learn that in repentance and rest is my salvation, and in quietness and trust is my STRENGTH, I realised that my ‘packed diary’ was actually more to do with my own ‘insecurity’ if you like, just wanting to know that for at least a couple of years ahead, I’d got a full agenda: I also felt that I neded to keep going in order to honour the faith of people who support me financially. I know that was my own mind game: me telling myself I had to justify their faithfulness. I think I can do that better, now, taking more time out than I used to.
It’s meant that I’ve been able to make a very ‘small‘ start at emptying my container of stuff from America: but that has had to involve rearranging my home of 4½ years here , so pretty much a full house(!) to fit part of another house in…. being a bookaholic, a filmaholic, and a musicaholic has meant lots of shelves – and more needed! – but it’s been fun trying to rearrange it. I’ve also had a great time starting to list some of the stuff I don’t need now it’s back here, for sale, on Amazon, so it might even bring me a bit of dosh!
So, tomorrow, I head off to England again: to Birmingham, to my long-time great mate Tim Herbert: we’ve been mates for about 30 years now, and Tim has a brilliant missionaries ministry, having been a missionary himself in Mozambique and Zambia (www.syzygy.org.uk), he loves music, beer, and curries, so I won’t give you too long to work out what tomorrow evening might involve! Then down to Worcester on Friday morning, firstly to The River School, to spend the day speaking to all the students about the great things God’s doing, to spend the weekend with my lovely friends Graham & Ann Coyle (also friends for 30 years), and pray for Ann’s cancer to get out of her once and for all, to catch up with even longer time friend Gary Gibbs, the Evangelism bigwig of the Elim church movement, we’ve known each other nearer 40 years… oo-er!!! Strangely, Gary and Graham like curries too….preach at City Church, Worcester on Sunday, and then drive back to be near Heathrow to head for Mexico City Monday.
I first accepted the invitation to go to Mexico (1996) as part of a ‘really hot chilli eating challenge’ laid at my door by a Mexican I met in Ghana, Hugo Jimenez. Through that challenge (which I’m proud to say I won, as a Brit over a Mexican!!), I met the family who have been part of my life, my family, and me par of theirs, since ’96. Benny & Paty Osorio led a network of churches – Mundo de Fe, World of Faith – and this’ll be somewhere between my 25th and 30th visits… nearer 30 now, I think. Benny’s a great mate, and (I said this in an earlier blog, but I’m getting older so you have to put up with me repeating myself!!) I had the joy of speaking at the wedding of Benny and Paty, just before Christmas in 2001. Two of the children – they have just had a 3rd – have my name… Pablo, and the new baby, Natalia Paola. Of course, Benny likes spicy food too… as well as curries, I have a penchant for tacos! 2 weeks there, and doubtless some miracles and healings, and salvations….
To be honest, I’m not looking forward to the flight, 11½ hours non-stop (me….with British Airways: now, there’s a miracle!), but once I’m at Heathrow, the adrenaline kicks in, and I’ll long to be there. Especially as having checked the weather, the daytime temperatures are only around 25C…. 🙂
Hopefully, I’ll be able to populate the blog with more wonderful stories of what God is doing in these coming weeks! 11 days after arriving home from Mexico, I’m off to Seaford, East Sussex (at about 24,000 people (2011 census), a wee bit smaller than Mexico City’s 37 million estimated! A couple of meetings with Fresh Springs Church there, and then 2 weeks in various cities in Sweden. 10 days after Sweden, comes 3 weeks in Cali, Colombia: never a burden, that one, either! – and then, 15 days later, over to the Vendee, France, to speak at a conference. After that, I think I’m going to take one of my newly-planned breaks!