The more people I meet the more I realize that all people are searching. Searching for purpose, significance, love. Searching for answers, meaning, God. They may not use those words but they are trying to make sense of their days and nights, their actions and reactions, the whole of their existence and the fracture pieces of their lives.
On a recent trip, Elise and I found ourselves in city founded eleven hundred years ago. Surrounded literally by a moat we flowed into the city like so many men, women and children who’ve gone about their lives for millennia, toiling their days away, searching for love, forgiveness and design.
Theodoric was searching for significance. Born into aristocracy he had advantage and position. But he needed more than wealth and comfort. He needed forgiveness. Theodoric was uniquely aware of his sin, his failures and downfalls. Like so many peers of his time he set his sights on pilgrimage as a way to reconcile his walk with the call of Christ.
He returned from Jerusalem with a small gift from the king, a small piece of bloodstained cloth believed to have been wiped from the face of Christ on his way to the cross. Theodoric ordered the construction of small cathedral to place the relic before returning to Jerusalem to live out his days in a monastery.
To this day, in the heart of town, built into the walls of the city hall sits Theodoric’s small basilica. We climbed the stairs to the second floor chapel and listened to the hymns, we sat in the room colored with life where thousands have come for centuries to find meaning, answers, Christ.
We watched as a little old woman, her head covered in lace, lit a candle and climbed her way to set her eyes and hope on the small encased relic. She poured out her prayer, kissing the glass repeatedly, trying to minimize the distance between her and her God. My heart wept as I watched her make every effort to draw near to God, to place her concerns and anxieties on a piece of bloodstained cloth.
Could she not see Jesus standing next to her, calling her gaze up higher? Could she not feel His Holy Spirit speaking life and love and peace into her eternity? I walked from that place in deep reverence for the privilege I have to know that my existence is not bound to intermediaries or tied to relics. My life is rooted in Christ, purchased in His blood and known by His sacrifice.
Your life has meaning. It has purpose and significance. It was created, woven together by the master of all, designer of the stars and creator of time. You have been placed with exacting purpose to make an eternal impact on those around you. There are no relics to be found, no pieces of the true cross or shrouds coated in blood, that will draw people to Christ like your life lived as a witness to His love.
In a market square a Senegalese street merchant went walking past hawking his souvenirs. As he passed me peddling his trinkets I answered him in Wolof. His eyes widened as he spun his body around to match the face with the voice. We spoke of Dakar and our neighborhood. We talked about his life and our ministry. And in the ordained randomness of this Christ-life we talked about Jesus in response to His questions.
It’s not the nameless, the blurry unknown that we are called to reach with the gospel; it’s the people we meet and see everyday. It is a life of true pilgrimage where we strike our purpose against that of others, like iron against iron. Our coworkers, classmates, lost family and friends. It is the distant woman kissing at relics drawn near into our family. It is a foreigner street vendor whose name is learned and loved.
Thank you for letting us be a personal link from the local church to unreached who are loved and known by God.