After living here in Thailand for two years, I thought that there might be fewer instances of cultural surprise. I feel like I’m starting to understand the way of life, why Thai people do the things they do. I’m able to converse more easily, albeit not fluently. But much to my dismay, the cultural surprises just keep coming! I know there are other, more seasoned missionaries that will read this and smile. Because they know. 🙂 Something happened this week that caused me to nearly cry in frustration, it made me laugh at the craziness of it, and it gave me pause as I thought about the Scripture I had read that morning.
Living in a tropical climate in a (developing) third-world country, it’s just inevitable that ants, roaches, and other critters will find their way into your home. Geckos also come, but we consider those friendlies as they help with the mosquito population. 🙂 It really doesn’t matter HOW clean you keep your home. One little spot of peanut butter left on the counter will bring the ant infantry. Trust me! It’s a constant battle. In light of this, we hired a pest control company to come once a month to spray, hoping that we can avoid TOO many pests from coming indoors.
We even wore shoes inside, which is a big no-no here in Thailand. I tried not to panic as we didn’t have a lot of time before our Thai lessons would start in the afternoon. And yes, it took a LONG time to clean every little thing in my kitchen and to scrub the floors. We don’t have lower cabinetry, so much of my kitchen supplies sits on my counters.
In spite of this, there were many things to be thankful for. And the Lord brought to mind what I had read in the Psalms that morning.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
This was written by David after Nathan had come to him about his sin with Bathsheeba. The whole Psalm is David pleading with God to restore the relationship and show mercy and love to him. He knew that the only way the relationship could be restored is if his heart was made clean. God was the one to do the work of cleaning his heart and renewing his spirit. But David needed to open his heart to the Lord and allow it to happen.
Sometimes I approach the Lord working in my heart the way I approached the ants. “Please just spray this one spot. I know there’s a problem, but I really don’t want to deal with more than this. So… just spray here, ok?” In reality, God wants to come in and “hose down my kitchen.” He wants to make my entire heart clean, not just one little spot. I often assume that the ants are only coming in one little hole. An expert view, the Lord’s view, would see that they are coming in from many holes. What I need to do is ask the Lord to show me my sin and repent so that my heart can be made clean.
We might look at David’s situation and think that we don’t need to repent as much as HE did. But ANY sin keeps me from having a good relationship with the Lord and must be cleansed with the Lord’s help.
Are you allowing God to expose your areas of sin? Or are you only allowing him to “spray” one little spot?
The Bible tells us how we can learn from ants, and they seem to be the best little teachers. 🙂
Serving the Lord in the country of Thailand, Alyssa is the wife of missionary Benjamin Hall and mom to five young kids. Each day seems to bring new adventures as she studies the Thai language, homeschools, and ministers to the many little hands that reach for hers. Of course, music is almost always part of the day, whether by listening, singing, or playing and it now echoes through the voices of little ones. Read Alyssa’s salvation testimony here.