In seven months time it will be exactly 150 years since Henry Morton Stanley uttered the famous words, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” when he met Dr. David Livingstone, the famous medical missionary, explorer and abolitionist in the town of Ujiji on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Stanley’s expedition to locate Dr. Livingstone wasn’t without risk. He had set out with over 100 porters, many of whom deserted or succumbed to various tropical diseases, but he himself survived and spent a number of years on further expeditions into East Africa following Livingstone’s death in 1873.
Just over 100 years later in March 1974, near the Chinese city of Xian, an even more remarkable discovery was made. Some local farmers were digging a well when they came across the clay figure of a warrior. Many more were subsequently discovered by archaeologists, and it is now estimated that there could be as many as 8,000 figures altogether. They have, of course, become known as the Terracotta Army. Each figure being individually modelled, they were originally placed there to guard the tomb of the Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di (246-210 B.C.).
Unlike Dr. Livingstone the Terracotta Army were found by accident, but it’s still true that the more effort we put into a task the better results we achieve, including in our quest for spiritual fulfilment. I was reminded of this when reading the words of J. Oswald Sanders, who wrote:
“… it is we, not God, who determine the degree of intimacy with Him that we enjoy. We are at this moment as close to God as we really choose to be. True, there are times when we would like to know a deeper intimacy, but when it comes to the point, we are not prepared to pay the price involved.”“Enjoying Intimacy With God” J. Oswald Sanders 1980
I’m sure many of us would love to know our Creator more closely, I know I would, and of course the good news is that He encourages us to seek Him. And He promises that when we do, we will find Him. No matter what our past has been like, no matter what our current situation is, if we sincerely want to find God we will. His love and forgiveness are waiting to welcome us home, and it all begins with prayer; telling Him how we feel, asking Him to draw us close, to forgive us and to give us a new start. If we do that we will, like Stanley, find who we’re looking for, and we’ll gain a prize far greater than a clay army. We’ll discover Jesus Himself.