Grace Bible College… it sounds like such an idyllic place for a born-again Christian to get a higher education. When I tell you that it’s located in Wyoming, Michigan you’re going to ask ‘which state?’.
Wyoming is a suburb of Grand Rapids (the college started out in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but God told them to move to Wyoming, Michigan so I could attend there at some point in time). There were about 120 students attending when I started there; I think that included full-time and part-time students (and quite possibly a few who picked up an application and never returned it). You could at least put a name to every face you saw before the first semester was half over.
I was still searching for what I wanted to do with my life so I figured my best place to find where God wanted me was at a Bible college. My youngest sister, Lora, had just graduated from high school; she decided to attend the same institution at the same time. I lost track of how many people would ask us if we were twins after they found out that we were siblings. We would usually tell them that we were identical twins born over four and a half years apart. There were quite a few people who would respond with, ‘Wow! That is so neat.’ (I remember thinking ‘God, You are definitely going to get the glory for anything accomplished by anybody from this group’).
Lora and I had the sharpest tongues of anybody on campus, we were so good with put downs that people would just see if they could one up us. Lora still is amazed that they just kept coming back for more. I remember thinking that this wasn’t something I really wanted to try to continue to develop (I mean, we’re supposed to build each other up in Christ. Right?).
GBC was big enough to offer sports. Lora played volleyball and basketball (somebody suggested that the volleyball team must have been using the verse about ‘the last being first’ for their motivation because they didn’t win any matches). I would have played basketball if we had had the three point shot available to us back then (but, alas, I was ahead of my time).
Soccer was my sport (at least that’s the one I played). With the ball being mostly on the ground… height wasn’t much of an issue, and somewhere between high school and GBC I learn how to run (I was now one of the fastest players… go figure). We had a lot of talent my first year, but not much chemistry. The second year almost didn’t happen, I recruited some guys to play that didn’t think they wanted to at first just so we had enough people for a team. I was chosen as one of the captains in my Junior year (it’s not as impressive when you discover that we didn’t have any Seniors on the team).
We had a few talented transfer students (mostly missionary kids who grew up playing the sport from childhood). After the first few games we started to gel into a pretty good team, we won our conference and became the first GBC team in any sport to qualify for a national competition. We got blown out there, but we were there fair and square, and nobody can take that away from us.
My grades were decent my first two years, I graduated with honors (barely) with my Associate of Arts Degree. But, my life took a decidedly drastic turn on Valentine’s Day 1986 (yeah, you can see where this is going already). The cheerleaders were raising money by selling roses: white ones for friendship; pink ones meant ‘I like you’; red ones meant ‘I love you’. I sent a pink one to a certain red-head named Barb (we had talked a bit, were in a few classes together… but hadn’t been serious at all up to this point). This was my romantic attempt to get her attention to let her know that I saw something in her that I found appealing. I guess it worked… two days after Christmas of that year she got her Mrs. degree… a semester before she got her Bachelor’s degree.
In the mean time I was still searching for what I was supposed to do with my life. I took some preaching classes only to discover that I had an EXTREMELY monotone delivery at that time. The counseling courses didn’t lead me to believe that I should pursue that route. Ditto with a teaching career. Music was never even on my radar screen. God occasionally talks to me… this time it was a whisper… near the end of my Junior year I felt Him say; “I’m not ready to use you at this time. But, I know your heart… just keep obeying me and I’ll let you know when I’m going to use you.”
I had previously followed through with a challenge that was laid down to us students at one of the chapel services. I wrote God a letter that went something like this: I hereby give you total control of my life. I am leaving this rest of this letter blank for You to fill in as You see fit. Use me anyway You want to…
Early into the summer break one of the other soccer players ‘accidentally’ knocked on our apartment door. He was looking for somebody else that he thought lived in that apartment. When I answered he told me about a job he had just started, the company was led by one of the GBC board members. They were still looking for another driver to deliver roofing and siding supplies… thus began the next leg of my journey through this life as Wade Webster.
I guess that goes to show that just because Jesus says that the only people who will enter Heaven will come in by ‘the straight and narrow way’… don’t expect your life to go straight in any direction for very long when you give Him total control of your life.
I’ll see you later. Wade