When I came to the Seminary one of the things I was really looking forward to was the learning, the academic learning that is (I collect qualifications like other people collect shoes). The internet throws up some very clever people and some deep theological thinkers and writers and so I couldn’t wait to get here and start learning about the people and the theories I had vaguely read about…
I am three weeks in and am yet to study any of those people – my academic engagement has been a little disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, some classes are engaging and Hebrew is proving that learning a language later in life is not easy at all, but all those famous theologians I was dying to read are not on my current reading list – cue drop lip and inner foot stamp. Three years in a stationary academic haze.
Pah! ‘I’m leaving’ I told myself in a dramatic pride-induced temper tantrum… I can learn more on my own … (Good Lord have mercy!) Thank heavens for people who speak sense and who call me out of myself and into the imagination of God, so I took a time out to be imaginative and to let the Spirit speak into this situation.
Why am I here if not to become the cleverest girl in all the land? Why, indeed!
It seems the answer goes something like this, being the cleverest girl in all the land is not actually a gospel imperative. Being the most loving person in all the land, being the most whole person, now those are things which are closer to the heart of God.
Studying God and what other people say about God will not in any way help me to know God any better or any deeper, they will not help me share God. Engaging with the people in my classes, worshipping in languages different to my own, ministering in a context that is foreign to me, offering help to those who struggle academically, living my life in a faithful, trusting way … those are things which will help me to grow, those are the things that will help me to see just how big and mysterious and all encompassing God REALLY is.
My training here (and indeed in life) is about more than my mind, my training here is about tolerance, open-heartedness, patience, trust, gentleness, humility and self-control … my training here is about life itself.
‘I came that you may life’ said Jesus, ‘not academic prowess’.
Would you look at that!?! It seems I am learning already …