I held her hand as tears fell down her face. “I miss them a lot you know.” Grandma Pai* wiped away her tears, looking a little embarrassed that she had allowed herself to cry in front of me. Grandma had just opened up about the deaths of her husband and sister, two people she had felt very close to. As I listened to her share about what they had both been like I wondered what her belief is about life after death. What eternal hope does she have? I decided to ask. Grandma Pai is a Buddhist and briefly described to me what she believes happens after you die although she stated that she really didn’t know that much about it. Then, to my surprise, she asked “What about you? What do you believe?” I sent up a quick prayer that God would help me to clearly describe the eternal hope I have. It was a brief description but she listened intently before moving on to another topic.
The next day, I visited her again along with Mother Kom* and we shared a meal together. Kom, who is also Buddhist, began to talk about destiny and reading palms (a very common practice here in Thailand). I listened respectively but was again taken aback when Kom asked me “What do you think about destiny? Do you ever get your palm read?” I explained briefly how I believe God does have a plan for each of our lives but that I don’t get my palm read because I believe that God holds my destiny in the palm of His hand and He is in control of my life.
Another evening we invited our friend Al* and his wife over for dinner. Al believes in God but does not see the purpose of, and is very much against, studying the Bible or listening to people talk about the Bible. We did not try to convince him otherwise but simply listened patiently and engaged him as we felt led by the Spirit.
God has brought me in contact with a wide variety of people in Thailand. Since I last wrote on my blog, I have added another handful of aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas to my circle of friends. Each one is unique, dear, and without a doubt a divine appointment. As I thought about each friendship I wondered if I would ever have the chance to study the Bible with any of them in the future. What an amazing experience that would be and one I greatly anticipate. But while I was considering this, another thought entered my mind, “What if none of these contacts ever have the opportunity or desire to study the Bible with you?” That stopped me in my tracks. That is a very real possibility. In that moment, God brought to remembrance a quote I had once heard by William J. Toms, “You may be the only Bible some people ever read.”
Whoa, so wait a minute! I am, in a sense, a living Bible? The Father replied with a resounding “YES!” I may never have a sit-down, literal Bible study with any of my friends that I have begun to make here (although I still pray for this). However, if I profess to live according to and follow the teachings of the Bible, every time one of my friends observes or interacts with me, they should in fact be studying and experiencing the Bible.
What a paradigm shift this was for me! If I am the only Bible some people will ever read, what is my life proclaiming? Even deeper than that, how am I ever to powerfully and accurately reflect the Word of God unless I am intentionally daily studying the Word and spending time with THE Word? As I look at the different opportunities God has given me to speak His truth and live it out in my relationships here I am humbled. Where I saw the absence of active Bible studies, God sees a multiplicity of Bible studies taking place. Each of my friends has begun to study the Bible through my life. While I praise the Lord for this, it also brings me to my knees as I realize the magnitude of importance God places on who we are at heart and how we live. No, we may not always be perfect examples but our Father calls us to push ever higher as we strive to model ourselves after the perfect example: Jesus Christ.
Do you have any “Bible study contacts” in your lives? What are these people reading in the pages of your existence? The pages of the Holy Scriptures contain eternal love, joy, and life that are too good not to share. I urge you friends to take more seriously the role that we each have as living Bibles in this world. After all, you may be the only Bible your friends and associates ever read.
*Names changed for privacy