Of all the places we visited, Kelly and I will probably remember Rome most vividly, not because it was our favorite (although it was incredible), but because we got so lost we almost missed our ship. Most of the time, we enjoyed being rebellious enough to find our own way at each stop. But this time it backfired.

beautiful ruins
The Capitole

After a one hour train ride, we got to Rome just before noon. It would be a challenge to see the sights and get back on the ship by 5:30, but we set out in high spirits. We had four specific places we wanted to visit – the Capitole, the Roman Forum, the Coliseum, and Trevi Fountain. The streets of Italy are not laid out in a neat pattern of north, south, east, and west. And every so often they throw in a five or six street intersection just to keep you guessing.

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.*

Roman Road

The Coliseum

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!

Trevi Fountain

Vatican Square

Praise God for the wonderful Italian man who told us what subway would get us to our train station. After six flights of stairs and three long hallways we got on, but still managed to get off two stops too early. After completely circling the Vatican, we boarded our train and made it back to the boat just in time to collapse in grateful praise. I have to admit there were several times along the way when I wanted to sit down and cry.

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.