I have a theory that is absolutely unscientific and, yet, I believe it to be true. The times I have gotten a traffic ticket were the times I locked eyes with the officer as I passed by him in my car. The instant it happened, I knew I was done for … every single time! So my natural, not at all that ridiculous, conclusion was to never look a police officer in the eye when passing by. I know it sounds crazy but since the year I began doing this, I have yet to get a ticket. I also firmly believe this holds true with Kiosk salespeople in the mall, teachers, and Shriners who walk by your car with a bucket during the stoplight.
There are times in our lives when we come face-to-face and eye-to-eye with something that is so much bigger than we are. It can seem like an endless 20-foot tall fence that doesn’t have even the tiniest hole to climb through. We are tempted to throw our hands up in surrender seeing no way out. This is when God does his best work in our lives. When we are frustrated and exhausted and at the end of ourselves, He always provides a way.
Bill and I attended language school at the university in Aix en Provence, France in 1999. We were twice as old as everyone in the class, including the teacher. We were both 40 at the time. We were also the only Americans. The other students in the class were all college age kids from around the globe who already spoke several languages. It was a train wreck waiting to happen from day one. I had no idea of the challenge that lay ahead.
The petite French teacher told us all on the first day of class, “Seulement Francias” which in English means, ‘Only French’. I raised my hand and asked, (in my southern accent no less), “And what does that mean?” Bill elbowed me and whispered, “I think it means don’t talk.” Again she repeated the sentence, “Seulement Francias.” Again I said, under my breath, “I don’t know what that means.” He pushed on my leg, which means pipe down.
I fully understood the fact that we were there to learn French, but what I couldn’t understand was how one is to learn a foreign language without some guidance, especially at the onset, in the language one does understand. As usual, I was alone in my thoughts while, in the class, I heard the background noise of what I knew to be French, but of which I knew not one word. It was very frustrating. I understand the concept of language immersion but I just don’t agree with it, at least not in the beginning. I really didn’t think it was too much to ask, for my teacher to tell me what she was saying for a week or two. No one agreed with me … no one.
The students in the class were adding French to their list of world languages. I would estimate that by the third class they pretty well had it down. I, however, was still trying to figure out why in the world I was in this class. I stopped the teacher after class with a polite hand motion followed by an apology for the English I was preparing to speak to her. Her reaction seemed a mixture of shock and amazement. She again kindly said, “Sheri, I am not to speak to you or you to me in English, only French.” I replied quietly (as I thought that might help with my charade of appearing more French), “But I can’t understand what you are telling me to do!” She reluctantly answered in the forbidden English, “But you will soon.” I leaned in and whispered to her, “See, I don’t think so.”
Bill’s strategy was to sit quietly and seem busy. I guess one of the best laughs Bill and I had while having this language school experience was in how aggravated he would get at me because I was constantly asking him what she said. My routine was to push his arm while leaning into him and ask, “What did she say?” He would mostly ignore me but the best line he gave me one day when I had shoved him over the edge was priceless! He leaned over and locked eyes with me and said pointedly, “Sheri, stop asking me questions, cause I don’t know either! I don’t know any more than you do.” I just looked at him helplessly, and then he added this wise counsel, “Just never look her in the eye!” He was so serious … but I couldn’t keep from laughing at his strategy. So just like that, I was out in the hall doubled over laughing. At this point, I decided all I could do that day was to just go home, I couldn’t imagine going back into that room. I never did learn much French and, to this day, I ‘seulement speak English.’
This is what I call actual wise counsel….
“In the day when I cried out, you answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.” (Psalm 138:3)
“But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid.” (Psalm 27:1)
“But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in time of trouble.” (Psalm 37:39)
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.”
(2 Corinthians 4:16)
Whatever you are facing (unless it is a traffic officer, a teacher, a kiosk salesperson, or a Shriner) just go ahead and face it head on because Jesus is the strength of your life in times of trouble. He will make you bold with strength in your soul. You are being renewed, inwardly, day by day. With God all things are possible.
So today, you go right ahead and look them in the eye!