I was recently reading in my devotions from this passage of Scripture: “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing.” I loved what Our Daily Bread said in reference to this: “Palms are symbols of towering beauty and cedars of unbending strength. These are the characteristics of those who have been ‘planted in the house of the Lord.’ Their roots go down into the soil of God’s unquenchable love … rooted and grounded in Christ, drinking in His love and faithfulness.”
Palm trees are an interesting analogy, considering what they endure and how they are designed. Palm trees grow in tropical climates, along sea shores. They grow in these areas because they are designed to resist/endure fierce tropical storms, such as hurricanes. The flexibility of their trunks allow them to bend with fierce winds without snapping and braking off. Their root systems are unique in that they don’t swell and thus push up sidewalks. Their roots are also quite extensive and cover the area below ground that the plant covers above ground.
Palm trees were designed to endure difficulties. Their lives are not immune from challenges. They are prepared for them. It’s so easy to desire the peaceful, joyful life. Sounds nice! We all want the comfortable home, well-behaved children, beautiful body, healthy body, well-running vehicles, nice yards, pleasant neighbors, nice job with a good paycheck, supportive friends, gourmet meals, fashionable clothes, intelligent children, etc… We want it all!
Plants that endure few hardships develop shallow root systems. When a drought hits, they are unprepared and shrivel. When a storm hits, without the roots or flexibility of a palm tree, they snap and crash.
We can seek peace and joy in our homes. We can try to create as pleasant of an environment as possible, and this is all good. Yet, we also need to be prepared to endure trials. They will come at some point. How deep are our roots? From where do we draw our strength? Do we draw it from something deeper than ourselves? From something deeper than mere circumstances or pleasing environments?
I love the analogy that my roots are to be pulling my nourishment from God’s grace and love! I am not going to do this perfectly, but my goal/my desire/my “roots” should be headed or growing in that direction.
The characteristic of flexibility is also quite interesting. I need to be flexible in dealing with my children, giving in areas where I can minister to their hearts/their needs. It’s easy to just say “No” to their desires. Sometimes, I have to when their desires are wrong or dangerous. The times when I can say “Yes” though, do I?
Today, I had that opportunity (in a small way). I really don’t like messes, but I remembered how gracious my mom was and how much I enjoyed messy activities such as transforming the living room into a tent. As I watched my children struggle to make a tent, I offered to make them a better one. I grabbed a stack of sheets, rubber-bands, and pulled a bunch of chairs. I then showed them how to make a tent with little sheet dividers for walls. I allowed them to make beds, “sofas”, and put a little table in their tent house. I chose to overlook the mess and to appreciate the enjoyment my children would receive. I heard lots of “thank you’s” and that this was their best tent ever. I even finished our school today in the tent by doing all of our read-aloud in the tent. And, I gave them snacks to eat in their tent — even though it would mean crumbs on my rug and blankets.
I am able to demonstrate flexibility in simple areas when I am “rooted” in love — when I recall all that God has done for me! I think I should plant a whole hedge of palm trees to remind me of these important lessons.