geezeronthequad: Pomping Without Becoming Pompous…
Hear the music? It’s time to celebrate and cap the experiences and circumstances of college with a little pomping. It’s time for taking pictures until we can’t see straight and ordering the biggest steak, best cheesecake, most loaded gourmet pizza in town or that one acre salad bar. Shoot, order them all. But do some other things. First, take some time to think (You can do this during the graduation speech if it’s not that great.). Think about the person living inside our skin when we dragged our stuff up four floors of our freshman dorm. Wow, what a long time ago and yet yesterday. A different person grew inside our skin one new friendship, one new thought, many exams and paper deadlines, many late night bull sessions and heart to hearts and a string of new roommates at a time. Could we have ever guessed at the things that cook and swirl around inside us now when we last danced to this tune at the end of high school? About as certainly as Snickers will come out with a horseradish bar.
Think about some of the people who helped along the way. Especially take time to talk with them and thank them. Years from now, we’ll wish we’d done this. By doing this, we will do good both to them and ourselves. Start with our academic advisor. Being an English major, mine was Bruce Macbeth. How cool is that? Don’t leave out favorite profs and leaders of various activities we got involved in. A couple of faculty secrets – they care more about students than we might think. And they thought a lot of their students were asleep. Our coming will both shock them and reinforce some deep things that made them want to teach.
Think about where we might be going. Some are off to grad school. Sometimes we don’t know what else to do and campuses are cool places to hang out. For some, it’s the next Kingdom step. Either way, be careful. I’ve told grad students that grad school can be like monasticism only without God. While our friends move on into jobs and/or starting families, we withdraw from the flow of normal activity and concern with other like-minded people to focus on one common field for years. Almost every time I speak, there’s a potluck dinner. Food is important, grad students (especially underpaid TA’s) being notorious snatchers of bagels and/or donuts left over from various meetings and faculty functions. But most Christian grad groups gather around food to reestablish human contact. Not only are there islands along the way, God is there.
Think about going…out there! Maybe a new job, starting a family, going into a ministry or living at home (sorry, but it happens – even in the Lord.) but we plunge in among the unwashed masses (not being strangers to our own unwashed moments). It’s scary taking the next big step. The last one probably came leaving high school four years or so ago. We were pretty sure we were ready even though many of us were more nervous than we let on. How about now? Remember two things. This is only the latest big step. There will be more; God engineers them. Anybody seriously meaning business with God quickly find themselves drawn into His plans and spiritually sucking air to keep up. Noah – build what so who can ride in it when what comes? (Gen 6:11-21) Abraham (Gen 12:1-5) going out clueless, not even having an answer for his wife. Moses confronting the leader of one of the mightiest world powers to demand freedom for his people from slavery (Exodus 3). Isaiah publicly going naked (Isaiah 20:2,3) for three years (No worries. This is not an ongoing ministry. Be concerned if anyone we know is actively praying about this.)
Some of these big steps come built right into life stages and transitions. Some ambush us. A friend came out of college and went on staff with a campus ministry. After a few years, it got lean and they struggled. All they wanted to do was bring young men closer to Jesus Christ. He just became a major as an army chaplain after a few tours in combat overseas. He’s still a force in the lives of young men. We might have majored in a science or education but then we started working at the campus radio station or staff at the campus paper. And “the bug” bit us. And God was prodding the “bug”. Each time we take one of these big steps for God’s Kingdom, we’ll feel like everything in our faith up till then rolls back to Square One. It’s like a spiritual version of a Verizon commercial, only instead of “Can you hear me now?”, it’s like God saying, “Can you trust me now?” And we can – but only those who take the step find that out. Stephen Mackereth just penned his final column for “Unapologetics” in the Harvard Crimson, capping it with, “…it is always time to move on. God is always ahead of us.”
But after we flip the tassel, then what? I suggest a few things no matter what that next step looks like. First, don’t forget where we came from. One campus ministry I hit regularly invites recent grads back to talk about what it’s like out there. Most of those sessions get packed out. Maybe we won’t live close to the campus that hatched us. But we will likely be around schools were Christians already plow the campus for Jesus Christ. Get in touch with the leadership and ask if they mind if we just show up regularly. Most will be eager. Many will want us to speak but even if they don’t, students will begin to want to talk with us. Want to stay radical after graduation? If a nearby campus has no Christian groups, pray about starting one. Any number of fine campus ministries (some listed in the links at right) will be glad to jump in and help.
Second, I borrow from Stephen Mackereth when he says, “…I wonder where we learn wisdom.” I prayed during a benediction at a state university that God would deepen and ripen the education celebrated at that grad ceremony into wisdom – because education and wisdom do not always show up in the same person. His answer is a good place to start; get to know some “saints”. These live inside the skins of Christians older than us who have weathered the storms of the years (decades?) that yawn out in front of us. I say with complete prejudice that this is why we should look for a multi-generational church. At our place, I would introduce you to a widow named Ruth (not her name). I have never known anyone who takes such a long time to go from the first word of a sentence to the period at the end of it. A veteran of a hard life that still bristles with no easy answers, she quietly loves the snot out of anything near her that moves and breathes. People slide quietly away from church sometimes without anyone seeing. Ruth sees – and phones and writes. I listen when she asks if I know about so-and-so – because she does. She would make cupcakes for Mussolini. She could spit wash Hannibal Lechter on the cheek and he would thank her. With a drawl and a smile, she regularly knocks the evil one’s rump up into his throat. We need a few friends like this; they’re pit bulls in prayer and bake a mean batch of cookies.
Third, buy the book in the picture. I know people gave us books when we finished high school but how many of them got read? I mean really? This one stands as good medicine for our next step off campus. This stuff isn’t clichés, it’s good meat for the soul, wisdom for the road and a corking good read. Get it here for 20% if you mention you saw it at geezeronthequad. The author and compiler might even include an autograph.
If something in here raises a question or if we have a spiritual question of any kind, feel free to send it along. I have a few rules. Any question, about anything, anytime. It must be a real question about something we care about and not just “Stump the Band”. No names required. I reserve the right to ask clarifying questions in order to give a more respectful reply to your question. After all this we’re good to go at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If we think that anything here might encourage a college student or someone who loves them, then share, subscribe, Twitter and all that social media stuff. If we already subscribe, then maybe we need to join something on Facebook called Geezer 1. It’s the Facebook clubhouse for geezeronthequad.com. It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, artists, writers, musicians, composers, business people, booksellers, broadcasters, theologians, pastors, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs, a few campus rats and a Goth who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place. They’re a sharp bunch and you will only make us better. Take a look here and see what you think and click 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 time at geezeronthequad.com.