The Palm Tree and Rahab
What we can learn about growth.
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Palm trees grow interestingly. Unlike trees, the stem of a palm tree does not grow thicker; nor does it develop branches. Instead, the palm grows vertically only, producing leaves from the top, or crown. During its entire life, which can last several centuries, the leaves at the bottom of the crown die, while new sprouts develop in the highest part of the palm to replace those that died. By releasing the dry leaves from the bottom while new leaves grow from the top, the palm grows.
The palm tree also drops dead leaves even before new leaves have grown. Anyone who has had a palm tree in their yard knows that this represents a problem for the owner since the palm tree is constantly discarding dead leaves and the patio has to be constantly cleaned. But the important thing about this is that, while the palm tree is constantly “dying”, it is also constantly growing.
What the Palm Tree Can Teach Us
It is important to learn the lesson of the palm tree in our spiritual life. We cannot grow if we do not let go of what is dead, or close to death. When something no longer bears fruit, keeping it will only drain our energy and prevent our growth. We must let go of everything we have outgrown, with the expectation that God will give us something new and better.
However, we need faith to do so; since, like the palm tree, we must let go of the old stuff even before we have received something new. We usually want to wait until we have something new in our hands so that we can let go of the old stuff. But it doesn’t work that way with God, because then it wouldn’t be faith.
Also, we can’t grab something new if our hands are busy with old things. On the other hand, it is unusual for a plant to grow while it’s being trimmed. During trimming, the plant must focus on its roots to endure the process; then it can focus on growing.
Someone Who Learned the Lesson
An example of this in the Word is Rahab; yes, the prostitute. She did not belong to the people of God; however, when she heard about Israel and their God she believed in him. The stories of how God had helped the Israelites conquer other cities had reached Jericho, and they were all afraid because the Israelites were heading toward Jericho. But Rahab made a decision.
When the spies arrived, she hid them and helped them escape, making them promise that when they attacked the city they would not harm her or her family, but would receive her among their people. Rahab let go of everything that was about to die. Her city, her house, and even her identity; she left them behind because she believed in a God she had never met, but whom she trusted would restore everything she had lost, giving her a new life.
When the battle began, Rahab clung to her family and her faith (her roots), until the spies came for her and her family and took them to the Israeli camp. Rahab dwelt among the people and came to marry Salmon, one of the princes of Judah. From her marriage, Boaz was born, who later married Ruth the Moabite and became the father of Obed, the grandfather of King David.
Rahab even received a new identity; from a prostitute from a pagan city, she became part of the genealogy of Jesus and is even mentioned as a Heroine of faith in Hebrews 11. All because she believed and was willing to let go of her past.
What About Us?
God can give you a new life if you are willing to let go of the old. Just like the palm tree grows without limits, it simply constantly discards what does not bear fruit with the expectation of growth.
If you can believe God enough to let go of everything old, even when you still don’t see what He will give you, you will always grow. Make room for new things to come and keep growing, because you don’t know to which new heights the lord will take you.
“The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.”- Psalm 92:12 (NKJV)