Within the first 30-seconds, a car slowly approached us head-on driving on the wrong side of the street. That’s not all that uncommon in Thailand, but as the vehicle got closer, the driver didn’t get out of our way. We couldn’t figure out if he was planning to park his car in the side ditch, or if he was just drunk. Finally, the offending car went back to the correct side, and we were able to pass safely. After passing, Nate and I looked at each other with jet-lagged, raised eyebrows. Then it dawned on us--WE were at fault. After getting comfortable driving in the States, we forgot Thais drive on the other side of the road!
This got me thinking. We nearly caused an accident because we were comfortable. When we are comfortable, we assume we are competent. And when we assume we are competent, we believe we are right, despite what the facts are telling us. This can be a dangerous place if we are not careful to keep our focus on Jesus and His Word.
It’s dangerous if I think my Western values are “right” when they are simply cultural, not Biblical.
It’s dangerous to embrace all of Thailand’s wonderful culture if parts of it are, indeed, against God’s Word.
The Bible and the Holy Spirit’s guidance are our tools for navigating the tricky boundaries of right and wrong in another culture. May we never stray far from these.
In the last six years, many of my prayers have revolved around my own comfort in getting to know, love, and understand Thai culture. But this year, I think I will add a new prayer.
“Lord, make me uncomfortable. Make me humble. Make me rely on YOU for my radar of right and wrong. Help me shed the blinders of both cultures that keep me from understanding your truth. Amen.”
P.S. The girls and I have a tradition of praying for God’s protection every time we get into the car. This morning I asked Karis to pray. As I pulled onto the highway, I heard a little voice peep up in the backseat. “God, please help Mommy drive on the right side of the road!”