Thirteen years ago I was traveling with my uncle and aunt, Joe and Barbara, from Hungary toward eastern Germany. Evening loomed as we drove along a highway past Teplice, Czech Republic, and we briefly considered stopping there, but decided instead to find a bed and breakfast after crossing the German border.
I know little about Teplice, but an image at its outskirts was indelible.
Cresting a hill just beyond the city, we saw several small buildings along the roadside, each with one or more women standing outside, energetically beckoning to passing motorists. At first it seemed like a marketing strategy for little restaurants, but a closer glance at the scantily attired women showed what was really on the “menu.”
The post-Communist culture of the region was starkly different from what I was accustomed to in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A police car was parked down the road, but apparently the roadside trade was not a law enforcement concern.
That morning I had read this passage: “The woman Folly is loud.... She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way. ‘Let all who are simple come in here!’ she says to those who lack judgment. ‘Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!’ But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave” (Proverbs 9:13-18).
I have no idea how many customers the women enticed, but they served as a vivid picture of things that can lure us in our journey through life. For some it’s sex; for others, success or status or “stuff.” Whatever it is, the clamor is often hard to ignore.
Earlier in the same chapter of Proverbs, it speaks of Wisdom, also calling out from the city’s highest point. What a contrast of attractions: wisdom and folly. Which we respond to makes a world of difference.