If you ever feel tempted to believe that you can’t make a difference, or that your vote doesn’t count, consider a story from the 4th century about a Monk named, Telemachus. His courageous and selfless act forever changed a culture.
One day, Telemachus thought he heard the voice of God telling him to go to Rome. And believing that he had heard God speak to him, he set out. Traveling on foot for weeks on end, he finally arrived in Rome. As he approached the city, he began hearing the sounds of people cheering in distance. As he approached the Coliseum, he heard people screaming,“Kill them…”
As he entered the Coliseum he saw the gladiators come forth and stand before Caesar. One by one they saluted the Emperor saying, “We who are about to die salute you.” Telemachus, now in complete shock, realizes that these gladiators were going to fight to the death to entertain the crowds. In utter disbelief, he watched as the killing began. Overcome with compassion and grief he made his way down through the crowd and climbed over the wall, dropping to the floor of the arena in the midst of the lions and gladiators.
Looking at the crowds, he yelled, “In the name of Christ, stop!” Even before the crowds were able to quiet down to hear what he was crying, a gladiator came over to him, raised his sword and thrust it into his body. Telemachus fell limp to the dirt. As this little humble monk lay motionless on the dirt floor of the stadium… silence came over the crowd. Then, someone in the top row got up and silently walked out… One by one the stadium emptied as people left in dismay at this humble man’s martyrdom. And never again did a gladiator enter the Coliseum to fight for Caesar. The games came to an end, that day.
There is power in one person living courageously for Christ:
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not. (1 Corinthians 1:27-28)
SPEND TIME IN THE WILDERNESS TO GET ACQUAINTED WITH YOUR OWN STORY
This story illustrates a powerful reality that occurs when we get away to the wilderness to get acquainted with one another’s stories. Because of such few distractions in the outdoors, we have time to tell our stories and listen to one another. As people get to share and be heard, they often awaken to the reality that they really do have a special story to share.
By facilitating a safe environment for people to share their life stories and the milestones that have shaped them to be who they are today, they feel valued. They also realize that God has been working in their life all along. One of the most undignified things about urban life, is the feeling that we are just a number… that we aren’t known or appreciated for the uniqueness of who God made us to be.
Why take people out into the wilderness people ask me? This is one of the reasons. Because I want people to see God face to face, to experience his voice through the distraction-less environment of Creation, so that they can wake up to the fact that they are created in God’s image, and that God has a special plan for them. And contrary to what we are made to believe as we navigate through the crowds in the concrete jungle of the city, we are not a number. God knows our name. And God knows our story.
GOD WANTS TO HEAR OUR WHOLE STORY
Once when Jesus met a woman who had been bleeding for many years. She was so desperate to be healed that when Jesus passed through her town she forced her way through the crowd to touch his cloak. Then we learn her story:
And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ ‘You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, ‘and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. (Mark 5:25-33)
People who just feel like a number need you to introduce them to the author of their story…
Each of us has a story that matters to God. Telemachus’ story is still told today because of his radical obedience to God. And this woman’s story is still told today because she boldly and honestly made her need be known to Christ. Putting her faith in Him, she was restored. I think we all need to intentionally quiet our souls long enough to hear our Father’s voice. Telemachus heard God’s voice, and by obeying his voice, his story will never be forgotten.
- How much do you make the effort to rid your life of distraction in order to hear your Heavenly Father speaking to you? Maybe some time in the wilderness will be the remedy. And remember that people all around you just feel like a number, and might need you to initiate with them and invite them to come away to be alone with God, who is the author of our story.