Today was our last day of classes and Ridley’s Valedictory service. In chapel, there was an opportunity to graduating students to make a few short comments about their time at Ridley. Here’s what I said:
I feel like I came to Ridley not quite knowing where I fit. I mean, we knew we didn’t belong in Melbourne, but we’d left our home soil on purpose! There were questions of vocation – what we’d do and where we’d do it – but I also had questions about myself. About whether God could use me in light of my weaknesses but also in light of my strengths. And I felt insecure about being a woman in ministry.
But three years down the track, I’m grateful to Ridley for the confidence I’ve gained in four areas.
- Confidence in handling the Bible text. I got so much out of studying it in its original languages and wrote recently in the LOG [Ridley’s student newspaper] that the relevance of the Old Testament was the great surprise of theological college for me.
- Confidence in knowing where I belong – doing Early Church History introduced me to long line of Christians on whose shoulders I stand; in History of Evangelicalism it was more personal – I felt like I was being introduced to ‘my people’.
- Confidence to think for myself – In Tim and Lindsay, I found lecturers who encouraged me to have a go at writing something original. I spent most of second year saying to Arthur, “I can’t do this. My brain isn’t big enough!” Of course, he never believed me for a second! The opportunities to write essays like that encouraged me to be shaped by what I was reading in the Bible, not just to toe the party line. But it wasn’t just essays. It was MDG and Missional Leadership, and conversations over the lunch table and Rhys’ thoughtful, ‘yes yes, oh I see mm.’
- Confidence in a God who sustains – all that confidence actually means that I feel I’ve been able to relax. I’ve been able to trust God with the gifts and abilities he’s given me rather than fighting against them or feeling insecure about them. And I’ve been able to see that he’s the one who sustains and grows and loves and forgives me and I can put my confidence in him.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.