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Same same, but very different

Last Tuesday afternoon I went on a prayer walk with two of my teammates.  Basically we asked the Lord to lead us where He wants and we prayed along the way.  I had an interesting thought at this point.

“Last Sunday was a festival.  Today if we find someone at the temple it must be because they are really looking for something.  Those who just do it to pay their dues went on Sunday, so they probably don’t feel the need to go there today.  Let’s go to the temple.”

Off to the temple we went in search of who we were meant to talk to.

At the temple we took off our shoes and stepped inside.  I was surprised at what I saw.  There was a white woman sitting perfectly still at the feet of Buddha in a meditation pose.  The Thai bow face down, so we hadn’t seen this posture before.

My team and I all made silent eye contact and nodded in agreement.  She was the one we came to talk to.

We wandered around the temple looking at pictures and watching her as she started to become restless.

It wasn’t long before she stood up to leave.  We conveniently headed towards the door at the same time.  She hadn’t but stepped outside of the door and I blurted out, “Are you Buddhist?”

She looked at me a little surprised and said no, she believed God was in all religions.

I asked a couple more questions and we decided to go sit down to talk.  We found out she was from Argentina but was now living in India and had come to Thailand to renew her visa.  What ensued was a 2 hour conversation in which we mostly tried to understand her.

It was a very confusing conversation to follow.  One in which my head was spinning, she said very little with a lot of words, contradicted herself, and left us with more questions than answers.

We ended up praying for her and blessing her in her journey to find God.

There were a couple of things that struck me as my teammates and I were processing the conversation.  The first was how dead her eyes looked.  She looked so tired.  She looked in her eyes like she was dying.  She said she was pursuing oneness with God, but to me it looked like she was about to fall asleep even though she said she wasn’t tired.

The second was surprise at my own boldness.  I realized I could really have offended her with all of my questions (I had a surplus of questions that did not shy away from the root of things.  I asked what she thought about Jesus, what she believed about the Bible, etc.).  I believe I followed the leading of the Lord, but I definitely walked the line.  At one point I asked her if I was offending her and she said no.

Afterwards it struck me… what if she needed to be offended.  In our day and age offending people is one of the worst things we can do.  It is a no no.  But what if it is what we desperately need?

What if we need something to wake us up and the sharp pang of offense is what will do the trick?  What if she needed someone to push her into feeling something and that God would use this to wake her up.  I kid you not; her soul was dying wrapped up in her pursuit of oneness with God.

I realized  that I was scared to offend people because of all the times I heard people talk about being offended by Christians.   I don’t want to be “one of those” Christians.  But maybe sometimes God wants to offend people.  I know I need to be offended sometimes.

And the third thing was this.  Some of the things she said were really close to the truth… but not quite there.  She talked about love and loving one another.  She said we needed to look past the surface and see the heart of people.  Good things… but she forgot about Jesus. 

The Asian expression seen everywhere in Thailand is “Same same, but different.”  There are just those things that we have to reply, “Yes they are similar, but no, you are missing something important.”

The best lies really are the ones that are so close to the truth we fail to see the difference between truth and lie.  She was caught up in the same same, but I was saying something very different from her.  She just wasn’t seeing it.

“Same same, but very different.”

I am now praying that I offended her and that God uses it to get her attention.  All I know is this; she is in the hands of a loving Father.

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