Tonight after making some purchases, I returned to IGo, where I planned to stay the night and attend church tomorrow. As I walked in the door, I noticed a Thai man sitting at one of the tables, trying to communicate with some of my friends through signs and wonders.
I walked into the situation confused about what he really wanted, and confused because he talked fast and I couldn’t understand everything. After some talk, I realized he was asking for money, but I didn’t quite understand the situation he was presenting as his need. I finally called a Thai friend to come and help interpret for us, but when he came I took one look at his face and realized that he knew this man and it was all a fake. He had appeared last Sunday with a story as well.
But it was too late for me. I had believed him and now my heart was torn. I ended up handing him a bit over a dollar’s worth of Thai baht, less than half of what he was asking for, and he went on his way. As he went I realized my mistake, and the others confirmed it by telling me what they smelled on his breath.
It was too much for me. This last week in some of my travels on my bike I had already seen enough hopelessness to last me for a long while. Compounding the problem was the inability for me to express the burden I felt for these people. Not just the blind, the lame or crippled, but also the healthy, the vigorous, the fun seekers, the thousands of tourists who wend their way through this Buddhist city of sensual pleasure.
After the man left tonight, I felt a deep sadness that eventually overflowed into tears. There were several things that I think triggered the tears, but what bothered me the most about the visitor was that I could not give him what he really needed. I loved him. (You know how I mean that). Somehow my heart went out to him, and not so much when he was telling me his story, as when I realized it was all a fake and I saw his real need.
To give him money was terribly the wrong thing to do, for I’m sure by now, it has disappeared into a bottle. I should have learned my lesson by now when it comes to giving money to people like that.
Somehow I ache to reach out to him and give him what he is really hungry for.
But how? It’s this same burden that haunts me when I go to Night Bazaar, the huge tourist market. It’s the burden that weighs me down when I drive around the moat in the city and see all those people, all those people, all those people. The burden is there, alive and heavy in my spirit, but I don’t know how to express it and how to let it drive me. All I do is cry!
Watchman Nee in his book, The Release of the Spirit, talks about this. He speaks of the how the soul of man must become broken so that the burden of the spirit can be released and find expression. The burden is given by God, but we can suppress that burden in our own unbroken humanness. When I read that, it was like I finally had a name for my malady. A malady only God has a remedy for.
I don’t know all the reasons for the tears that came after the man left. All I know is that it touched some vital part inside of me that simply ached.
I kept on working in the kitchen for a while, making mashed potatoes for tomorrow’s carry in dinner. But as I worked, I listened to the song The Warrior Is a Child. And cried some more.
I hope people don’t mind if the potatoes are a little extra salty tomorrow.