Thursday, October 13, 2011


Psalm 92:12 “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree.”

My daughter is a student at Hope College, a Christian liberal arts college not too far from where we live. She is the baby of our family so every time we experience something with her we are keenly aware that this is our last time not just with this child, but with all of our children. I think that makes us pay somewhat more attention. I know that is true for me.

Two years ago when she started at Hope, we did what every good parent does. We brought her to school, helped her move in, helped her arrange her room and her stuff, and then went to all the parent orientation activities. We didn’t expect anything new. We had already been through this at two different colleges with our two sons. What do parents really need to know about all this after all?

But surprisingly, I did hear something new. In chapel.

The chaplain at Hope, Trygve Johnson, preached a sermon on Psalm 1, a psalm whose theme reverberates throughout the Psalter and is reflected in the quote from Psalm 92 above.

He told us about the “soil of Hope.” Soil that is rich in its Christian heritage. He talked about Hope College as a place where our children could sink their roots deep and soak up the nutrients necessary to nourish their faith. He said that every day he prays with Psalm 1, “Lord, make me like a tree.”

Funny prayer, isn’t it?

Make me like a tree.

But Psalm 1 says that the righteous person is “like a tree, planted by a river, that bears its fruit in season” whose “leaves do not wither.” The tree in Psalm 1 is a picture of the flourishing God intends for his people.

And then Dr. Trygve Johnson told this place full of many first-time Hope College parents that he not only prays that prayer for himself, he prays it for the students of Hope College.

That was my “ah-hah” moment. That would be my prayer for my precious daughter. “Lord, make her like a tree.” Shape her into that righteous person who flourishes like a tree. Make her like that tree. And I decided to pray that prayer for myself as well.

She just began her junior year. We are half-way done with this journey of college. Her freshman year I wondered if she would ever flourish. Last year, I saw glimmers of hope. This year, I am beginning to see fruit. But I won’t stop praying – ever.

Lord, make her (and me, and my boys, and my husband, and all these students….) like a tree.

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