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Asking at the Register

December 19, 2013

SteveLambert_Library_Book_CartSome years ago I was in a bookstore in Rome looking for books in English. This was before my Italian was perfected (which it still isn’t) and I wanted to make sure I had something to read which would not force me to use hours of concentration and a dictionary. But it seemed the more I searched the farther I got from finding anything at all. There were books in Italian, French, Spanish, and –for some reason known only to the Powers that Be — Hindi (or something that might as well be Hindi). No English. All this time the owner of the store, a smiling German lady, looked over at me from the cash register and beamed helpfully.

There is something in me that hates to ask for anything. Maybe it’s culture, maybe it’s shyness — in this case more probably my dislike of stuttering out a question in bad Italian. All the time I was looking for English books, I could sense that the owner of the shop was watching me, giving me time to ask for help, letting me browse to my heart’s content until I wanted to turn to her for assistance. Finally I bit the bullet and did it.  “English?” she replied in beaming Italian. “We have a whole shelf of English up there,” and she pointed to the top shelf which I had not been able to see. Then she went and got a ladder and placed it against the shelves. “Let me get them down for you!” she said. Before I knew it, the owner had carried down all the books in English and laid them on the floor for me to look over at my leisure. Not only had she answered my question, but she had gone above and beyond to help me find what I was seeking.

Isn’t God like that German lady? “Ask and you shall receive — give and it shall be given you, packed down and overflowing — what Father among you would give his son a stone if he asked for bread, or a snake if he asked for fish?” We look, we seek feverishly, while God beams over at us from the cash register. Once we humble ourselves and learn to ask of him, he lays himself out for us to receive him. As C.S Lewis said: “Prayer doesn’t change God — it changes me.”

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From → Musings

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