No thanks. I replied.
Hey Mister! You need to buy a bracelet.
No Thanks. I looked down with a bit of annoyance in my voice.
Hey Mister! I have Very Nice Bracelets for you.
I looked down into the eyes of one of the most beautiful little girls I've known. Her eyes were deep brown. Her skin was the color of the native people I'd been meeting with all day long. Her accent was clearly arabic. And as with many places I've traveled, she was a part of a tribe of children who try to help their parents make a living. They troll the street corners looking for people who might have missed a tourist spot to buy gifts, and make cute appeals for sales on the spot.
Ok, how much are your bracelets?, I asked, knowing I was about to be bombarded by the other kids hiding in the shadows waiting for my first financial transaction.
$3.00 for a bracelet, mister. she asked
How about $5.00? I started my reverse negotiations. I'll give you $5.00 for that bracelet right there. I insisted.
You should have seen the look on her face.
No mister, only $3.00 per bracelet.
But I want one for $5.00.
And back and forth we traveled down the negotiation conversation knowing she had no space in her mind for someone to talk the price up, instead of the countless visitors who badgered her to a lower price.
True to force, I was immediately surrounded by 15 other street sellers, all under the age of 10. They all wanted a piece of the action that this man walking the streets of Hebron was willing to give. They knew....
As I think back on this adventure that happened only a year ago, I'm reminded at how much we negotiate with God. We come to Him asking for our own needs of the day, our worries for the week, or maybe even our future. We feel compelled to ask God to come down and grant our three wishes as a genie might come to negotiate three wishes, and to our surprise, He offers more.
Instead of taking care of our daily needs, I wonder if God looks down and says, How about I take care of your entire spiritual well being?
Instead of granting us healing physically, financially, or emotionally, He says, How about I come to the earth and live life together.
Instead of asking for something we see as fully valued, He works in a way to offer us SO MUCH MORE!
You should have seen the kids when I bought the bracelet, and then started telling my own story. I pulled out my phone and showed them pictures of my home, memories of my own family, and began to share my own life with them.
One of my new friends had a soccer ball, and in no time flat, we went from transaction over a bracelet to hearing laughter and play in the streets of one of the most controversial cities in the world.
We didn't need diplomats.
We didn't need politicians.
We didn't need powerful business leaders or celebrities.
We just needed the heart of Jesus to come into the frey and once again prove that meeting people where they are, and starting relationships with an attitude of service and sacrifice for one another; we created our own memory. We forged a place in my own mind I will never forget.
And I'm sure there won't be many days when my friends selling bracelets remember the man from America who negotiated the wrong direction for the sacred honor of making a new friend.