When I spend the normal 24 hours of travel time moving toward a mission project, like the one I’m now on in Uganda, I subconsciously engage a “girding up” experience. This process might be described as focusing my mind toward God in the process of entering the mission. I think this is because I believe that He is ministering to Uganda, and now He will do some of it through me, so I need to be focused on hearing His voice and following it. This preparation is more about getting ready to listen to Him than getting ready to do the mission. If I listen to Him and follow, the mission almost does itself.

So during this girding up, He often meets me along the way to encourage me and demonstrate in some small way that He is indeed stepping forward in me. This happens in odd little things that others wouldn’t even notice, but that are intimately related to how I function so that I notice them right away. I am always encouraged, and sometimes, as on this trip, a little chagrined.

So I was in Amsterdam this trip waiting to board the Uganda-bound leg. I was feeling overwhelmed, as I often do, with all the big things happening this trip. Then I needed to use the restroom, so I went into the nearest men’s room. Now I know the unisex thing in Europe makes Europeans a lot less sensitive to the gender issues around bathrooms and such, so I wasn’t so much shocked as surprised when I found a woman cleaning the men’s bathroom with no “closed for cleaning” signs or anything that suggested that I wasn’t supposed to be in there while she was cleaning. It was more of a “You do your thing and I’ll do mine and we won’t get in each other’s way.” So I ducked into a stall as fast as I could and carefully locked myself in – the stalls were complete enclosures, floor to ceiling, so I felt secure enough with this approach…and with my carry-ons stacked against the door.

I was processing my American embarrassment at the whole situation when this lady started to sing in a melodious voice enhanced beautifully by the echo-chamber-tiled-restroom effect. What does she sing, you ask, the latest from Taylor Swift or Beyonce? No, with quite a good voice, she was singing, “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine….” Now she was singing in Dutch, but every now and then she would break out in English, then back to Dutch. Perhaps she was speaking in tongues or maybe I was interpreting, but she would weave a verse in accented but clear English, then sing the next portion in Dutch, and so on. But there was no mistaking the tune. Because of the tune, I could match her Dutch singing word for word with my English.

It was surreal to break out worshiping in those circumstances, but as I quietly sang along, I realized the Lord was with me, and was telling me He was with me. Now I’d like to give testimony that I burst into full voiced song, two souls performing a bathroom duet, strangers literally in the night, but brother and sister from out of the nations no less. However, I am not into the whole unisex thing, and, well, frankly, I am a little prudishly shy about the gender bathroom thing. Frankly, while she was singing and I was miming along with her and worshiping, an entirely different part of me was freaking out – “There’s a strange woman in the men’s room, right outside the door of your stall!!!!!

It was about here that I truly knew this was of the Lord, because I could just hear Him chuckling. I said inwardly, “Yeah, message received! Message received! I’m listening, Lord….” I look forward with meek dread to that day long in the future when He will pull me aside for a walk and a chat and say, “You remember that time in the men’s room in Amsterdam? What a hoot! Gotcha!” And we will both laugh uproariously.

But really, Lord? I mean, really? Yes, surreal, profound…but also weird.


but also…weird.

But I am very alert now, gotta say…