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Do You Speak English? La Vie en Rose, Part 11

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As I strode through the crowds gathered under and around the gracious Eiffel Tower, heading for the ticket line, I was confronted by a woman, seemingly of Asian descent. She wore a long skirt, and a red veil covered her hair.

"Do you speak English?" She pleaded in a gentle, pitiful voice.

As I looked down at her, I couldn't help but notice the desperate look in her brown eyes. Desiring to help the poor woman, I answered, "Yes …" But before I could finish my sentence, a note was pushed in front of my face, and as I tried to read it, she continued to beg: "Please, please, please…" The note was about a paragraph long, and it explained in English that she had just immigrated to France and was in dire need of money. I had no way to know if this was legitimate or not, so I did what I believe Jesus would have done: I gave her some money.

She quickly grabbed the coins, and pulling her message away, she turned to waylay another tourist. There was no thank you, no show of appreciation of any kind.

Then a couple of minutes later, I was approached by another woman dressed in a similar fashion. She, too, asked me just one question: "Do you speak English?" But before I could answer, she pushed the exact same note up under my nose.

But I didn't look at the note this time. Instead, my eyes scanned the crowds, and I noticed myriads of these women, all dressed in a similar fashion, all accosting tourists whose clothing indicated they were likely from North America.

When this woman saw I wasn't paying attention to her note, she pulled it away and began speaking to me, in English. And her English was quite good.

Why give me a written note when you can talk to me in my language?

We would later discover that these women were everywhere in Paris. Hordes of them littered the square in front of Notre Dame de Paris. Hundreds filled the train stations. We even saw a number of their red veiled heads in the courtyard of the Louvre. And if you tried to ignore them, they would switch to French and produce a note written in French!

But what astonished me was how mechanical their approach was! The question, then the note, then the begging, followed by a quick retreat if they were fortunate to touch the heart of their innocent tourist, and never even a hint of appreciation.

It all made me think: Am I any better in my approach with God? Don't I use similar tactics in obtaining, not what God's will is for me, but what I want from Him? And how often don't I forget to thank Him? Even worse, I tend to forget the requests I make of Him each morning, and I'm negligent in realizing when my requests have been granted! What must God feel when I don't even give a hint of appreciation?

Have I forgotten Rom 8:31: "What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?" NIV God is not my enemy! He is my ally! And He will give according what He, in His wisdom, knows is best for me!

May we learn to show Him our appreciation. May we learn to trust Him in all things, for truly, "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

"And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ - the Message - have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives - words, actions, whatever - be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way." (Col 3:15-17 The Message)

"Excusez-moi, parlez-vous Français?"

"I beg you pardon?"

"J'ai une note pour vous: "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom 5:6-8 NIV)

It doesn't matter what we say, it's our grateful attitude towards God and His children that counts!

Rob Chaffart

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