They arrived today.
With their baskets of bedding and their neat stacks of notebooks and their brand new jeans. They came to our campus with their snarled up stomachs and their wide wet eyes and all of their hopes and dreams.
They arrived with their siblings and parents and friends, who filled up their fridges and helped settle their stuff. Who gave lingering hugs and some last words of advice and finally waved goodbye.
I watched them come. For the eighteenth time. And I am always moved by the sight of them. Moved with gratitude at what God has done. Moved with excitement over what He will do. Moved with a certain measure of awe.
On the sidewalk I greeted a few of them today with a handshake, a smile, and “you are welcome here.”
On Monday morning I will meet many more. I will show them a syllabus and learn their names and begin my specific task of helping them read, think, and write.
But knowing what I know—that these next four years will be full of all manner of things—I feel compelled tonight, before I turn out this light, to offer a simple prayer…
Walk with them. Reveal Yourself—in ways old and new. Please be near.
Fuel their passions. Strengthen their resolve. Fill their hearts with peace and love.
When loneliness comes, be their Friend.
When fear overwhelms, be their Rock.
When the path seems hidden, be their Light.
When they are broken, heal their hurts.
When they doubt their calling, be their ever Burning Bush.
When they doubt You, show up big.
May they fall in love with learning.
May they discover new gifts.
May they steward well their money, their talents, their time.
May they discern Your truth and cling to it. Tight.
I pray for a church home where they can find community and be fed.
I pray for a mentor who will challenge them and cheer them on.
I pray for some life-long, life-giving friends.
Build into their being tenacity and resilience,
Patience and compassion,
Boldness and gentleness,
And a deep dependence on You.
When they trip and fall, or when they run headlong in the wrong way, be their Father. Pursue them relentlessly. Pierce their soul. Lift them up. Dust them off. And bring them back.
You are God.
They are Yours. Not ours.
We commit to serving You and them, to the best of our ability and by Your grace alone.
We lay this year on the altar. Do with it as You will.
Freshman, what are you praying for this year?
Parents, what do you pray for your freshmen?