Smoky incense permeated the temple. The musky overpowering odor filled our lungs and clouded the view. People were bowing dutifully to the gods of Buddha. Unsure of what was happening, I could see worship: incense sticks smoldering, candles being lit, flowers laid down with men and women bowing, reverent and serious.
On this hot August day with hundreds of people, I came to observe, to respect, to learn, to feel and to find my God. The words, "Your Name is higher," kept forming in my heart and I felt the calm assurance that I need not fear anything. My God was there and He is higher. More than any hand made thing, He is alive.
Beautifully carved buildings filled with many silent statues surrounded us. The prayer wheels, chanting monks, tingling bells, reverent attitudes and ancient smells engulfed us as we watched, mesmerized by the intensity of it all.
Unfamiliar with the Buddhist beliefs I did not know what or who the people were worshiping but I knew it was not God Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth.
Our group of college-aged people gathered around at one point and started quietly and respectfully singing. The melody was gentle and bright and honoring to the God it was lifting up.
Holy Spirit you are welcome here.
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere.
Your glory God is what our hearts long for
to be overcome by your Presence, Lord... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
God is resplendent with light and no amount of darkness can overcome Him.
Questions remain for me after this visit. I want to know more about this ancient religion that binds its people to incense and sacrifice and the desire to be good enough, acceptable. On that day, though, I once again stepped into the warmth of my Father God with full assurance that he already sacrificed all that was needed, is alive still, and continues to guard and woo hearts around the world toward himself.