Lessons from a palm tree

Lately I have been immersed in palm trees. This is usual for me. I live in the northeastern part of the United States and there is snow in my backyard right now. The thermometer on my back porch reads 19 degrees and when I open my back door to let my dogs out to do their business, I shiver as the wind blows back on me. Inside my house, however, there seem to be palm trees everywhere.

This morning I opened my devotional and there was a marker that said “Even a palm tree bends.” It was a note to myself as to one of the last thoughts I had when I left my time with Jesus yesterday morning in this place. It was a reminder to go back to the palm tree. “Go back to it!” I exclaim to myself, “I haven’t left it!”

For the past 16 hours with an 8-hour break for sleep, I had been designing a custom Happy Hanukkah card for a customer. I have an Etsy card shop and a woman on the West Coast wanted to know if I could design a tropical Happy Hanukkah card and have it arrive before Hanukkah ends on Wednesday, December 20. Well, with a lot of back and forth drafting I came up with this and she was very happy.

The main tropical item is a palm tree sporting Star of David decorations. The tree is located along a tropical beach path where a couple walks hand in hand toward a cluster of palm trees in the far background.  When I see such scenes in real life, I can only imagine what those trees have weathered. They thrive in areas bombarded by hurricanes where they are seared by flood waters and whipped by raging winds. They bend but they do not break. Their secret? Deep roots and singleness of purpose.

This is the deal: Palm trees are monocots as opposed to other trees, such as paloverdes or oaks, which are dicots. Kim Stone, a horticulturist at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior, describes a monocot. “Monocots have embryos that sprout straight up in a single shoot, instead of up and out with branches, as dicots do.”

A palm tree’s goal is height and depth. It doesn’t waste its energy on making branches, therefore it does not have branches to catch the wind. With the same voracity it focuses on shooting up, it also shoots down. Its roots remain woody and dig deep; each root retains its width as they burrow down. This is unlike the dicots whose roots thin in diameter as they grow downward.

Wow! Think about how much better we could weather the storms of life if we kept our focus on God and were intentional about digging deep into His Word so we could grow up in Him. He invites us every day to go forth with Him. (Note all the “let us” phrases below.) The key to our success: If we get up early to the vineyards… “there [He] will give [us His] love.”

11Come, my beloved, let us go forth to the field; let us lodge in the villages. 12Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine has budded, whether the grape blossoms are open, and the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love. (Song of Solomon 7:11-12)




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