When I was a college student and a brand-new Christian, I attended a talk by Ravi Zacharias at a church in my home town of Birmingham, Alabama. At the time I was wondering how my new faith would affect my interests in literature, philosophy, and history. Was all that something I needed to give up in order to dedicate my life to God? I approached Ravi after his talk to ask him what he thought about that, and he warmly reassured me. Not only is the life of the mind — even the humanities mind! — compatible with Christian faith and practice, he said, but, more, God really needs faithful people in those fields.
When I walked up to him I didn’t think he would say that my new faith demanded the flat rejection of worldly wisdom, but I suppose I expected to hear a note of caution about reading dangerous books, or something along those lines. But no. His encouragement was straightforward and unreserved.
Perhaps I would have ended up on this same path anyway — it’s hard for me to imagine, now, a radically different one — but I really do think that was a key moment for my young self, and I have always been grateful to Ravi for his words. Many years later, when Ravi’s daughter Naomi was my student at Wheaton and my son’s regular babysitter, I thought that a lovely closing of the circle.
It seems that Ravi’s race is nearly run now. I pray for him a peaceful and even joyous crossing of the finish line. Well done, good and faithful servant.