GraduationLast night I had my graduation from college. Here's a little testimony thing I gave, the primary purpose of which was to embarass my wife Su.
Well, I never dreamed I would be standing up here today receiving a 1st Class Honours degree in Theology. Some people may remember that I also graduated last year, receiving the Diploma… maybe I just like graduations. So yes, I nearly left last year. It’s not that I nearly dropped out, because that would imply that I signed up to do a three year degree in the first place, whereas I actually only signed up to do 1 year! Four years ago I was a very bored software engineer, working at a troubled company called Marconi. I got the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy, and after a lot of thought decided that what I would like to do more than anything is to go and spend a year studying the bible. So I asked God and I asked my wife Su and to my delight and surprise they both said yes. I guess I was looking at it as a kind of year out, an opportunity to do something I’d always wanted to do, and a chance to reflect and think about the future. I enjoyed the 1st year immensely, and when it was finished I felt like I’d had a really tasty starter in a good restaurant. I was hungry for more.
Dr. Massey started to encourage me to consider doing the second year. Now, Dr. Massey is very cunning. He started saying things like ‘we feel it would be shame for someone of your calibre not to continue your studies’, stroking my ego. Now I wanted to do the second year, like I said I was hungry for more, but it felt a bit indulgent. Two years full time study, while my poor wife went out to work to earn the pennies, it didn’t seem fair. And besides, we couldn’t afford it. Well, we prayed about it and talked about it, and once again, to my amazement, Su agreed to supporting me for another year. God’s provision was amazing, Dr. Massey put me forward for a bursary from the Evangelical Alliance (the Jerusalem Trust, one of the Sainsbury Family’s charitable trusts) and we got the full amount we applied for (which makes me feel a bit better about doing our shopping at Sainsbury’s). Through various other ways, including the generosity of my parents, God supplied all our needs. I loved the second year. We started to get into some real meaty stuff. I got a chance to read lots of fat books, which I love, and I especially enjoyed Pauline theology, which probably makes me some kind of masochist. I really began to see how theology and biblical studies fit together. Our class discussions were fun, and helped to clarify what I believe, and what I definitely don’t believe.
Well, I thought that would definitely be it, hence the graduation last year. Once again, various people, students and lecturers began to sow seeds in my mind. ‘What do you mean your dropping out?’, they said. Dr. Massey gave me a word in chapel about not leaving foundations unfinished. Tell that to my wife, I thought. I felt one year had been a privilege, two years was a real bonus, a third year would be pushing it. We agonised over the decision all summer. I kept thinking I should really get a proper job. Once again, Su, bless her, agreed to let me go ahead and finish off the degree. Again, on paper we couldn’t afford it, but God has been so good in providing for us. The third year was more of a challenge, the concepts were more difficult, some of the theories a bit more bizarre, the names of the scholars more German. Enjoyment would be a strange word for it, but I learned a lot and it has all been worth it and I’m just so pleased to be here tonight.
I would like to thank God for giving me this chance to pursue my passions, and teaching me to trust Him and that there is always more to know of Him. I’d like to thank my parents for their love, encouragement and generous support. Thankyou to all the staff at the college, and my fellow students, it really has been a case of iron sharpening iron. And last but not least I’d like to thank my amazing wife Su. Su may well be the ‘wife of noble character’ of Proverbs 31. She has been incredible, not only going out to work each day to provide for both of us, but also doing most of the housework while my head has been stuck in the books. She has given me constant encouragement, picking me up when I’ve been down, coping with my anxiety and insecurity, kicking my up the backside when I’ve needed it and always believing me. She has shown me new meanings of the words patience, kindness and love. I think she’s the best wife ever. She deserves an award.
The future? My dream would be to be a part-time Vineyard pastor in somewhere like Vancouver, teaching New Testament at Regents college and going snowboarding at the weekend. I suspect God may have other plans, we’ll see.