Last Monday night, driving home from Auckland, I stopped to pick up a hitch-hiker. His name was Richard, and he was going a different way, further down the road, but I could at least take him to his turning. We got chatting, talked about our families, and the troubles that visit us all. He’d been visiting his Dad, who’d suffered some heart attacks. The big one might be soon.
He asked what I’d been doing in Auckland so I told him I was a master’s student and had been presenting a paper at a seminar. A little later on in the trip he asked what I was studying, and how long I’d been studying? So I told him how I studied theology, and how that had lead me into pastoral ministry, but also that the study itself was important for me so that I could be sure that what I believed was reasonable; that there was good reason for me to be a Christian and not a Buddhist or Muslim or Hindu.
"Yeah," he said, "I’ve often wondered that. How do you know which is the right one?"
So then I was away – and really it was an overflow of the day. My presentation had been at a seminar on CS Lewis, and I was full to bursting with his wonderful vision of God’s exciting, compassionate, glorious creation and redemption of us. So Richard got to listen to me explaining how the different religions took different attitudes towards the transcendent and the natural, but that God brought them together in the person of Jesus Christ, and that we are all, in him, lifted up to the level of the divine. I came to my conclusion just as I drew up at his turning: "and being a good Muslim or a good Hindu is fine, but we all have to make some response to the person of God in Christ!" – and then we parted ways.
It was sort of difficult to tell in the darkness of the vehicle – and I was trying to watch the road – so I don’t know how he responded to my excited babble about it all. I know for a fact that I enjoyed it! He certainly thanked me and shook my hand warmly before he disappeared into the darkness beside the road, my blessings following him. Maybe, some day, beyond the darkness and the turnings of our different paths, we’ll discover ourselves at the same destination after all.