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Send Josheb-Basshebeth Some Brownies…

January 26, 2018

You gotta love biblical names. What were some biblical parents thinking? Isaiah named one of his sons Maharshalalhashbaz. Yes, it describes a partial fulfillment of prophecy but really! A list of names like this jams II Samuel 23:8-39; a list even Dr. Suess couldn’t spit out. Give it a try. And outside this passage, nobody ever heard of these people (with one exception in verse 39). So why did the Holy Spirit think it important to include them here? Quite simply, these guys had David’s back and he would have been nothing without them. Hidden in this tongue twisting list of names lies the nugget of a story. David and his army were in campaign against the Philistines. He made an offhand comment about how great it would be to have a taste of water from the well of his old hometown Bethlehem. He wasn’t dying of thirst; it was an exaggerated comment we make when we say we’re starving or dying of thirst (and we’re not). But three of them penetrate some heavy Philistine defenses to bring back a slurp or two for David. Man, did he freak when he found out what they’d done. You did what!!!  They’d laid it on the line for him and it wasn’t a one shot deal. Over thirty more walked with David through times good and bad. Without them, he winds up a dart board for Saul’s spears.

For a lot of us, graduation (or at least the hope of it) comes up fast. But the semester is still young. Remember the Josheb-Basshebeth’s while you can. Nobody pomps their way through the circumstances leading to a degree alone. Some mighty men and women have had our back. Most of the world will never know of or remember them. Will we? Over the next few months, we still have time to say something, write a note, share a bagel or do something that tells one of our mighty men (or women), “I couldn’t have gotten here without you.”  Scripture says that one the first signs that spiritual death is eating on our cracker is ingratitude (Romans 1:21) Don’t let ourselves get numb to real impact, a real redemption footprint we can leave behind. Here are some places to start.

Family   You knew this. Some of us will be the first in the family to graduate from college. We will walk the stage on the shoulders of the prayers of great hearts who walk with us in spirit. The depth of character and wisdom, the monuments they were and are, never saw the inside of a classroom or maybe never could finish. Others in our families worked extra jobs or did without so their student could have. Some made it possible for us to finish debt free; kiss their hand. When the music starts and the line we’re in begins to move, walk proudly – and gratefully.

Roommates and friends  Aren’t they same thing? After almost four years, we know this isn’t always true. Either way, some of these people will stick with us through the years. We’ve lived a lot of life together, seen each other through the good and bad, the goofy and the serious, the exciting and the mundane. Real friends show up in person even if they’re on Facebook. We’re rich to have two or three. Don’t let these months slip away without saying important words face to face and celebrating.

Faculty   Before I get to the profs we had, let’s go “retro”. What about school teachers before college? Teachers concentrate on the students at hand so it’s easy to lose track of so many who went before.  The stories filtering back aren’t always pretty. If we didn’t cross this ‘T’ of gratitude in high school (and we probably didn’t), we can catch up here. A college prof or two had more than a finger in the pie as we grew into the people we are over the last four years or so. Profs deserve a break!  While many students work hard, the average professor also remembers the coffee downing zombie apprentices in many classes looking for the easy ‘C’, three credits and out the door. Sometimes profs touch our lives in things outside the classroom – the head of the campus radio station, the jazz band director, a community services director. Did a Christian on the faculty step up to be a sponsor for our Christian group? Going public with their faith carries some risk. They did it because they remember their own student days and the campus group that meant a lot to them. They love students. Staff like dorm heads or the bookstore manager. How about the university president who has a job almost nobody wants keeping the lid on our school long enough for us to get a pretty good education?

Campus ministry staff   We’re graduating and moving on into careers and ministry like shredded wheat management or meeting the needs of extra-terrestrials whose transport is in the body shop and they can’t navigate American currency. But that campus ministry staff person is staying and will be there for that next group of freshmen who will be as insecure as we were four years ago. They listened to our crazy ideas and the ruminations of our hearts that never seemed to come to a head until after midnight. They would help us struggle through doubts without treating us like heretics who should be run slowly through a cheese grater. And they did this gladly while living on sometimes sixty percent of a salary other pledged to give but sometimes just hasn’t shown up. Aren’t we glad they were there?

Locals    Many students don’t get to know anybody in the community during their time on campus. I remember the townspeople in local churches who embraced all of us Jesus Freaks, loving us through our “fruitcake” phases of early faith and giving us solid examples of what mature Christian living, marriages and family looked like. A local woman, a retired missionary, ran a small bookstore from the card tables on her sun porch. She was Yoda and Gandalf rolled into one for us. Before I left campus in the spring, I would take her a long-stemmed red rose. It was one of the smartest things I did in four years of college. 

Some who we think are above needing encouragement   I cannot imagine my life without God’s using books to play into my life. I’ll tell you a dirty little secret. Many of the best known writers, speakers, musicians, etc. quietly wonder if it’s not more than a mouthful of ashes – the books, concerts, etc. They come into sunset seasons of life wondering if it made any difference at all. And our social media world only allows for the shallowest bursts of immediate feedback. Am I suggesting sending brownies to John Piper or moose jerky to Eugene Petersen? How about getting out the Crayolas to draw a picture that N.T. Wright can put on the fridge with a magnet? Maybe the five points of Calvinism on a hand made of popsicle sticks for Tim Keller? It’s simpler than that. At the right moment, nothing absolutely drips with the power of God as a handwritten note. Take the hint. Just sayin’.

If you think this might encourage college students or someone who loves them, then share, subscribe, Twitter and all that social media stuff. If this rings your bell, you might want to consider Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for We’re a funky mix and I mean that in the best possible way. Adding your funk (And you do have some because Jesus put it in you.) to the pile would only make us better. I also am open to any questions you have about the Christian faith and living it. Just shoot it to me at No names required but I do reserve the right to ask clarifying questions to dignify your question with a decent answer.


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