Still, we were enthralled with the ancient splendor around us; every building exudes history. First, we reached The Capitole, an impressive conglomerate of statues, fountains, and patriotic fervor. Like two cows in an international herd, we marveled at the first century ruins on our way to the Coliseum. Cold rain soaked our clothes as we paused at a section of the Roman road – where Apostle Paul and Luther once walked. The Coliseum, where many brave Christians became human torches or lion food to entertain the masses, loomed beside us.*
We bought an umbrella and kept moving; it was getting late. We had to give up the Forum and head for Trevi Fountain before it got any later. Our umbrella blew inside out. No bathrooms anywhere. But we kept winding our way through Rome. Every once in a while we saw a sign and raced eagerly ahead like hound dogs on the scent of their quarry. Then another intersection would throw us off. Eventually we huddled together in a gathering of multicolored, multi-national umbrellas to admire the magnificent fountain.
We cried halleluia as we squeezed into a pizza shop for shelter, the best pizza in Italy, and a bathroom break. Thus fortified, we began the trek back. We followed signs to the “Termine” for an hour and a half to catch our train back before realizing we were at a subway terminal on the wrong side of Rome!
I can’t help but compare this experience to the millions of lost souls in our world who desperately need Christ. They are in danger of missing the boat. Some stray in rebellion, others in ignorance. Many don’t understand the Christian language well enough to follow our directions. Some have a map, but need help reading it, or get lost at every intersection. Some try other routes thinking they know a shortcut to heaven, and end up more lost than ever.
If Kelly and I had missed our boat it would have been expensive, frightening, and inconvenient, but we could have met the cruise ship at the next stop. However, for those who do not find Jesus in this life, there is no alternative. I may not know my way around Rome, but I want to spend my life as a signpost to Christ. “I [have] one message… the necessity of turning from sin to God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ…Life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love” (Acts 20:21, 24).
*I thought about this when we watched The Hunger Games later on ship – an excellent commentary on our society’s hunger for reality shows that entertain us with the pain of others.