Several years ago now, I had the honor of traveling with several other wonderful ladies to a city that, dare I say everyone, would love the opportunity to visit... Paris, France. Most associate Paris with a luxury trip, however we went to see a very different side of the Parisian life. We went on a missions trip to minister to immigrant women specifically, however many other opportunities presented themselves. We were positioned right in the heart of the red light district. I can promise you it was not the side of Paris I had always dreamed of seeing. But I can tell you one thing, the sights... the sounds... the smells... the people.... made an impact on my life that will never fade away, and I would like to share a little bit of that with you today.
Paris is called the City of Lights, but for a city full of light it’s an awfully dark place.
I think it was the noise that first woke me, but it was the jet lag that kept me awake. Three o’clock in the morning and the noise, well, it did wake me. Curiosity drove me to my balcony where I stood and watched the night life of broken people below me. Young adults riding their bikes. Older men stumbling out of the café across the street. Drug deals and sex deals right below me. Couples playfully chasing each other. The sound of sirens in the distance. All of this happening right below me. Right there below me on my balcony.
I was totally enamored. And not in a good way.
There is one thing that stood out to me. The light that I saw was not bright white, glowing with the beauty and history of this city. No, the light was red. Dark red, wrapping its fingers around that night and around me.
The color red is used to evoke many different emotions. Women dress in red to draw attention to their sexiness hoping to entice men into bed. We use red to symbolize evil and the devil and his sinister work. We drive red cars to draw attention to ourselves. Then those police lights…the red is a symbol of authority causing us to stop and holding us captive.
Perhaps the red of the street that night did all those things. My attention was definitely grasped, and as I watched the exchange of life controlling substances I could sense the evil cast. The brokenness, the loneliness, the pain all wrapped around me in the red light of the street. But as a believer and as a woman called to bring the Light to the world, I imagine that red to be the blood of Christ covering hearts, lives, actions, thoughts…covering me under the blood of Christ. His blood--His precious blood--washing me and the streets of Paris white as snow.
It’s been nearly three years since I stood on that balcony. I keep saying that my return to her streets is emanate, and perhaps it is, but as long as I live I can promise this, the red streets of Paris are marked on my heart. And my wish is to see the City I love no longer painted red, but glowing with the white light of Jesus’ love.
Just as Paris will remain in my heart forever, I hope you will allow something to fill your heart as well. Keep your heart open to any opportunity that would arise for you to have a new experience, and to fall in love with a place and a people; as you see the heart of God crying out for all to come to a knowledge of His saving grace and amazing love.