Resisting God is tiring as well as dangerous. For 18 months or more I had felt increasingly sure that God wanted me to go and study at a theological college, but this thought frightened and appalled me. I was scared that I wouldn't be able to cope with the academic studies, would struggle with the spiritual disciplines, and end up drowning in debt. So I resisted.
I felt so unsettled that I left my job drawing maps for the Ordnance Survey and took a job at a supermarket. Eventually, I realised that if I was going to continue to regard myself as a follower of Jesus, I'd have to do some following. But my prejudice and ignorance about theological colleges meant that the prospect of enrolling at one was about as appealing to me as contracting mumps or having a green heart tattooed on my left buttock!
Having sent off for, and received information from various colleges, I applied for the one I considered might be the 'least worst' option. At my interview I was deliberately abrasive and negative when asked to describe how I thought I'd cope with the studies. I expressed my doubts and fears and left the tutors in no doubt that I thought I'd be likely to drop out early on. Hence my surprise when they accepted me. I was even more surprised when the County Council approved my application for a full grant. But the biggest surprise of all was waiting for me at the college.
Having been there for about a fortnight, I realised that I was actually enjoying the lectures, while meeting and making new friends with students from a wide range of denominational backgrounds was stimulating and fun. The daily rhythm of chapel services, prayer and reading was building and stretching my faith The essays still seemed daunting, but I started to relax into what God had obviously wanted me to do. I stopped resisting. That said, I knew I'd never make a Hebrew or Greek scholar – in fact the only college prize I won in three years was for,Best contribution to the social life at the college!
I'd been prejudiced and ignorant about what Bible/theological colleges were really about. If I had continued to rebel against God's call I would have missed out on a life changing three years of fun, friendship and faith stretching that were pivotal to what God subsequently called me into.
Whatever age or stage of life you may be in, I encourage you to read the special supplement on training in this issue. Ignorance isn't bliss and maybe you might have some prejudices about what goes on in a theological college, I used to. I hope reading what college staff and students have to say about the quality and range of training options available today, will give you a broader understanding and a deeper appreciation of what a precious resource these places of learning and growth are.