“Can you tell me what that little ladder is there for?” I asked yet again as we passed by a pair of spirit houses.
All over this country, I have observed that when there is a fairly large spirit house, there is most often a smaller one right beside it. Leaning up against at least one of them is a little ladder. Curious soul that I am, I have kept asking the same question of multiple people that could speak to me in English. Most people cannot give me an answer, at least not a definitive one. “I guess it’s there for the spirit that lives in the house to climb up or at least to reach the food that is left there for it.” Sounds logical but . . . why does a spirit need a ladder?
I have come to realize that mixing religious practices and beliefs is very common, probably all over the globe. Animism, Buddhism, and Brahmanism are worldviews / world religions that dominate in this part of our world, passing down their spiritual worldview through the centuries. Many (if not most) businesses, hotels, and private homes have either a spirit house or a Buddhist shrine of varying sizes, and there could be both on the same property. This syncretism, or blending of ideologies and religious practice, has become such a way of life here that few people question the “traditions” and rather follow without understanding those lifestyle patterns. The creativity displayed in these visual places of worship and these perceived places of protection is sometimes quite intriguing.
Each time I encounter a spirit house, I take it as a call to prayer—praying to our living Creator God to break the power of the evil one. It is a call for the Holy Spirit to come into my life and fill me with His power and grace to love these wonderful, loving, gentle-hearted people who are caught up in idolatry and superstition.
Every time I have visited a temple, I am so impressed with the passionately devout people who generously give and earnestly perform the traditional rituals. I have frequently asked myself the question, “Is my devotion to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at this level of daily connection and my prayer life such that I would be filled with the Holy Spirit?”
I recently read again the 5th chapter in The Acts of the Apostles, “The Gift of the Spirit.” One paragraph stands out for me.
“The lapse of time has wrought no change in Christ’s parting promise to send the Holy Spirit as His representative. It is not because of any restriction on the part of God that the riches of His grace do not flow earthward to men. If the fulfillment of the promise is not seen as it might be, it is because the promise is not appreciated as it should be. If all were willing, all would be filled with the Spirit. Wherever the need of the Holy Spirit is a matter little thought of, there is seen spiritual drought, spiritual darkness, spiritual declension and death. Whenever minor matters occupy the attention, the divine power which is necessary for the growth and prosperity of the church, and which would bring all other blessings in its train, is lacking, though offered in infinite plenitude” (AA 50).
I desire to become the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. I long to have my life, my heart, and my soul become a “Spirit House”—a home for the Holy Spirit!
May we all have willing hearts to allow the Holy Spirit to fill us and use us for the task at hand in reaching the unreached of our world.