April 17, 2021

Accomplished and Mature

Psalm 1

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season. . . .

—  Psalm 1:3

When students graduate from high school in British Columbia, they receive a Dogwood Diploma, named after the province’s official flowering tree. Many of the local people also refer to graduating as “getting your Dogwood.” When I first moved to B.C., I wondered, “Are students really getting a tree when they graduate?” It turns out that the diploma is referred to as a dogwood because those trees are in full bloom in the springtime when students graduate. So in this area, the dogwood tree has become a type of metaphor for accomplishment and maturity.

The book of Psalms begins with a picture of accomplishment and maturity in the life of someone who seeks to live faithfully for God. And in this case, the person is compared to being a tree, not just receiving one!

The tree at the beginning of Psalms is an echo of the tree of life that we saw in the garden of Eden. Picture a strong tree with deep roots, well watered and full of healthy fruit and leaves that don’t wither. This tree is pleasing to look at, and its fruit gives sustaining, delightful food. It provides shade and a home for birds and other creatures; it purifies the air and stabilizes the streambanks.

This image in Psalm 1 helps us to learn the way of wise living. If we walk in step with the Lord, we become the mature followers God created us all to be. When we voice our praises and sorrows, and when we draw attention to God’s beautiful creation and his way to full life forever, we are like a tree planted by streams of water.

Lord, guide us to become everything you intend us to be. Make us fully alive and mature in Christ. Amen.

About the author — Julia Prins Vanderveen

Julia Prins Vanderveen works and lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her husband, Trevor, and their three sons. Julia has served as a copastor with Trevor at a church in Vancouver. She is a campus pastor and a humanities teacher at the Vancouver Christian School.

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