geezeronthequad: Some Were There For Us Before We Were There.
When I speak on campus, the exit procedure is always the same. On the way to my car, I always find a bench where I sit for a while (even and especially in winter). I pray for the group I just spoke to, the students and their pursuit of the Lord and His calling, the staffers and their families, all the Christian ministries on campus and the advancing of the Kingdom of God in that place. And finally giving gratitude to God for the honor of speaking His truth in that place with the hope that they will quickly forget me while remembering Christ. While I do this, invariably, isolated students walk past. Some glance at me; they often take me for faculty. A few speak. If this old guy is faculty, they might have him for a class sometime so it couldn’t hurt to be friendly now. Some glance sizing me up. It’s night in a creepy world; my white beard gives them confidence they could probably beat me up if I tried something. They’re right. Some cruise past with head down as if I’m not even there.
College students are often tribes of bubble people, lonely even in their groups. In a Facebook and smart phone world, we interact without connecting, let alone bonding. Young adults delay marriage for many reasons including fear brought on by our increasing inability to build meaningful friendships.We’ll hang onto bad relationships to avoid having no one. The binge drinking and hookup scenes as well as the ongoing tragedies of student suicides stand as loud symptoms of many things including a vicious loneliness that eats away at everything good and beautiful. Letting someone inside our bubble means taking a big risk. We describe people who pass the test and earn our trust by saying, “They were there for me.”
Humans are hardwired for relationship; following Jesus doesn’t work without them. I recently got a new phone when my flipper died. The people at the phone store gawked at it like the monkeys finding the monolith in 2001 Space Odyssey. I now have a new one, not a smart phone. There’s a lot in that thing I don’t recognize or use. It’s the same with our Christian faith. God packs so much into knowing and loving Jesus Christ beyond what we even know let alone think of on a daily basis. One of these includes Him giving us the desire and power to slip into other people’s bubbles.
Last post went to the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. Let’s go to the Cumberland Highlands in Tennessee. Early on one hike, we hit a spot on the trail where a bear had freshly dug up a bees’ nest after the honey. The bear was gone; the bees were not gone and in a surly mood. We quickly edged around them. About a mile further on, we smelled smoke from the trail ahead and soon saw a couple of guys walking toward us. Working for the national park, they’d just dug up, sprayed and burned out a large yellow jacket nest just ahead of us. They said, “We haven’t seen so many wasp and yellow jacket nests or rattlesnakes in years.” These guys and others on trails all over the park had our backs; they were there for us.
The Christians around us live as part of something called “a great cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews 12:1. They laugh and cry with us, eat cold pizza at two in the morning with us, don’t run away screaming when we share our off-the-wall ideas, kick our tail when needed, lift us in prayer and honor us with their company and time (both of which they could have spent on somebody else). They’re more than plugs to fill our loneliness; they’re gifts from God. But the cloud is much bigger than that.
That Bible of ours – writings by a score of people, known and unknown, woven together by the Holy Spirit, preserved at great risk and danger, with beauty and meticulous care. Without a central defining body of truth, Christianity wouldn’t exist. The writers, copyists, translators, printers, smugglers – they were there for us. In the early fourth century, Athanasius took on all comers who tried to bend the truth of the nature of the Trinity into a shape of their own liking. This bishop in Alexandria in Egypt was ousted from his church five times because of politics but his people loved him. The next time we’re caught up in a great praise or prayer time, remember Athanasius’ courage to keep clear the nature of the Holy Spirit. Fuzzy or wrong thinking about the Spirit quenches Him. Seventeen centuries ago, he was there for us.
So while some of our Christian friends may occasionally dig out some wasps or stomp on some snakes on our behalf, Jesus pours the cream of His truth, love, holiness, power and beauty, as distilled through the lives of Christians through centuries and around us on campus, into us. He has one thing in mind – to make us like Himself. He left heaven to be there for us. He went to the cross for our sin to be there for us. Now that He lives in us, we’re here to be there for others – just like He was. Jesus had this way of seamlessly penetrating people’s bubbles. He slid past their defenses through the debris field of their mess ups and into the graveyard of their dead hopes. To be there for someone is a great honor. It’s not our job to stockpile and hoard people like this to ourselves stuffing them inside our bubble. It’s finding our Jesus sweet spot in someone else’s bubble. When that happens, make popcorn. It’s probably been a long time since anyone else has been there. We might be the first.
Have we visited the geezeronthequad Christmas shop? It’s full of great things done by you the readers of this blog including our Facebook clubhouse at Geezer 1. How about a new Hebrew word study dictionary for Grandma? Byron Borger has it. How about something to cover the cheesy poster on your roommate’s wall (or your own cheesy poster for that matter)? Bonnie Liefer and Mark Altrogge wait for your order. Music? How about some praise and worship with guts, spirit and heart? Or electronic? Browse through and pick up something for yourself as well.
If you think this might encourage a college student or someone who loves them, then share, subscribe, Twitter and all the social media stuff. If you already subscribe, you might want to be part of Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for this blog. They’re a sharp bunch and you would only make us better. Take a look and send us a Facebook request to join.
Please return your seat to the upright position and give your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next post at geezeronthequad.com