Can a Theological College Be Born in a Day?
a Quick, Painless Labour and then..
Rev. Hector Morrison
Highland Theological College
Some fifteen years ago at the beginning of 1994, the small group of Christian ministers and businessmen who had been prayerfully considering the setting up of a theological college as part of the proposed University of the Highlands and Islands were issued a challenge by Dr Robert Chalmers, the then Principal of Moray College of Further Education in Elgin. His challenge was that we take the window of opportunity being offered and actually begin the theological college in August of that year. To a man, our immediate response was 'That's not possible!' However, as we took the matter to the Lord both individually and corporately, the message that kept coming back to us from the Lord and his word was 'No! It's not impossible!'
The particular scripture that was burned into my own heart and mind by the living Spirit of God, and that gave me the confidence to leave behind the regular salary that went with life as a Church of Scotland minister, was from Isaiah 66:7-8: 'Before she goes into labour she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment.' This seemed to fit so well with the seeming impossibility and yet immediacy of the 'new thing' we were being called into back in 1994: 'Can a theological college be born in a day?' Yes, if it's God's idea and God's time. And so it proved to be with the Highland Theological College.
As we persevered with the work through its many early challenges and difficulties, there were many occasions when the following verse from Isaiah (v 9) became my stay and the only thing that I had to fall back on: 'Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?' says the Lord. 'Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?' says your God.' The answer expected to these rhetorical questions is 'No! God does not abort his work, his "babies."' He sees them all through not only to birth, but also to maturity in Christ.
Through the intervening years, with all their joys and trials, we have seen the truth of these words being outworked, as - in the midst of much exhausting labour on our part - we have often had to stand back and just witness God doing what again and again seemed so impossible. And it is this action of God that is so important, as it has been from the very beginning of creation. All of what we have witnessed of the Lord in action has strengthened our belief that He will continue what he is about in and through HTC until that work is complete.
So, now, even though the Lord has called our founding Director and first Principal, the Rev Professor Andrew T. B. McGowan, back into the preaching and pastoral ministry, we await, with great expectancy, the fulfilment of the following verses again from Isaiah (10ff): 'Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her. For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance...' These verses seem to speak of days of renewal, refreshing and abundance in the future, and we in HTC certainly long earnestly for such times of spiritual renewal in Scotland and beyond. Whether we see it in our generation or not is not the most important matter, but that the Lord will do this in His time and for His glory. But, how amazing and exciting to be involved in this great adventure with God!
I would encourage you to pray much for HTC in these coming weeks that the Lord might place over us the leader of His choosing to bring us into the next important stage of His purpose and work for the college.
The Highland Theological College is inviting applications for the post of Principal - closing date 27/02/09. Click here for futher details.