How is it possible to see Paris in a day? For that is all the time we had during our brief visit to France. I decided rather than trying to squeeze in as many sights as possible, I would be open to absorb all I could of this famous city’s atmosphere.
Coming up into the heart of the city from the underground metro station, my feet stopped and my mouth dropped open. The sheer energy of Paris hit me in a wave of wonder. My attention was immediately drawn across the street to the opulent façade of the Palais Garnier, made famous as the novel and theatrical production setting for Phantom of the Opera. Gilded and bedecked like a wealthy French heiress, it set the precedent for the many architectural marvels I would see that day.
My senses could hardly soak up all they were experiencing. Ornate architecture, both ancient and modern, verged the streams of traffic flowing down broad avenues. The distinctive honk of Parisian taxi horns punctuated lyrical French conversations swirling by me on the sidewalk. Passing by shops and restaurants, my nose caught whiffs of rich chocolate, fresh baguettes and other culinary delights I longed to sample.
From the vantage of a double-decker bus, I viewed the major sights for which Paris is so well known. Notre Dame Cathedral, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre Museum, and the Eiffel Tower, to name a few. Admittedly I know little of Paris’ past other than snippets about the French Revolution and some of its famous citizens. But I sensed the sheer weight of history it contained pressing down into the soil beneath. The permanency of Paris makes an impact.
However, I think I have been ruined for feeling a long-term connection to any city in this world, no matter how impressive. The feats of man may inspire awe, but because of Jesus I have become a citizen of another city, a city not of this world.
“For as long as we are here, we do not live in any permanent city, but are looking for the city that is to come.” (Hebrews 13:14 The Voice)
Because the spirit of Jesus, the risen Lord, dwells in me I am a new creation, temporarily residing on earth wherever I want , but designed to live permanently in the city God has built in heaven. That city is described in the book of Revelation as having gates made of pearls and streets of gold. It does not need sun or moon, for the glory of God gives it light and Jesus is its lamp. A river flows through it, flanked by life-giving trees with healing for the nations in their leaves. (Revelation 21 & 22)
Paris is reportedly the most visited city in the world and I can understand why. I am glad I had the opportunity to go there and see its amazing sights, even for just a day. But someday I will go to the City of God, not just for a visit but to live there eternally in the presence of Jesus. Then I will be truly home.