A hitchhiker sparks unusual thoughts.
|The Man in the Silver Suit
A very wise and good friend of mine once told me that one should always be generous to a man in a silver suit.
His name was Ralf (my friend, not the man in the suit) and he told the story of a car trip he had made in the vicinity of Spaghetti Junction in Birmingham (England, not Alabama). At a certain point, Ralf noticed a man dressed in a silver suit standing next to the road and holding up his thumb in obvious request of a ride. Ralf shot past the man, debating whether to stop or not, when suddenly a thought occurred to him. The words were etched in his mind as though an inscription in a monument from a Monty Python film: What if he’s an angel?
Ralf stood on the brakes as though his life depended on it (as well it might, for all we know). This instant reaction is only understandable if you know Ralf as I knew him. A plumber by trade, he was both one of the most devoted followers of Jesus I have ever met and probably the most down to earth character you could imagine. If Ralf were to tell you something, you could be certain it was true and it would be framed in the most direct and straightforward language that English is capable of.
So it was no surprise to hear of Ralf’s immediate response to the angel thought. I had seen him react in this way many times before. But we should return to the scene of Ralf waiting in his car as the silver-suited man strode towards the halted vehicle.
When the man bent down to speak with Ralf through the open passenger side window, the conversation was not exceptional, consisting only of a brief announcement of intended destination and Ralf’s agreement to provide the ride. The journey continued and it wasn’t long before they reached the stated goal. After a brief word of thanks, the man was gone and Ralf proceeded on his way.
The conversation in the car had been inconsequential and light, with no hint of huge revelation or earth-shattering announcement. Ralf was quite open about the fact that, silver suit aside, there was no evidence to suggest the man could be an angel. “But,” said Ralf with his great grin of certainty and belief, “he might have been.”
And Ralf was right. Just because the man was an angel does not mean that he had something special to pass on to Ralf. It could have been that the angel had a divine appointment elsewhere and just needed a ride to get him there on time. It was Ralf who responded to the prompting and, in doing so, he may have become a part of the Eternal Plan.
Oh, don’t come at me with thoughts of spreading of angel’s wings to fly the man to the appointment. If you know God, you’d be well aware that He prefers to speak with a still, soft voice. And, anyway, you have heard of not breaking your cover, I’m sure.
The wisdom of Ralf’s story is that it is not full of supernatural events and magnificent visions. It’s the might-have-beens that make the thing a lesson for the ages. So remember, if you see a man in a silver suit standing at the roadside or striding down your street, be aware that he could well be an angel and you might be called upon to play a part.
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers for, by so doing, some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)
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