As most of my readers are aware, I moved from Indiana to Florida three years ago. One of my favorite things about Florida besides the beaches are the palm trees. I had no idea before I moved here that there were so many different varieties. Only about 12 palm trees are native to Florida, but there are at least 40 or so different types thriving here.
Here are some of my favorites:
The Florida Royal Palm (Roystonea regia).
I love how tall these trees get and as a Kansas girl raised on the wide open prairies (with fewer trees than anywhere else I’ve lived) I never take these majestic giants for granted.
The Japanese Sago Palm (cycas revoluta) (obviously not native to Florida):
The adorable little tree above is shown at its full height. I think these are lovely in a front yard walkway. People in my neighborhood take landscaping very, very seriously. And then, there’s us.
I love this little Pygmy Date Palm tree. They make Christmas lights so pretty:
My ultimate favorite, though, is the stand-out fan palm shown here:
Look how awesome palm trees look at Christmas. Here’s a pic of my neighbor’s Christmas light display:
Floridians in my neighborhood get downright competitive when it comes to Christmas lights! I love the way this neighbor put them on the palm leaves, don’t you?
Okay, now that I’ve given you the backstory of my love for palm trees, let me get to the point.
God is amazing. I honestly can’t fathom why he cares so much and even pays attention to the hairs on our head. And this past Palm Sunday, He even took the time to orchestrate my research for my novel coinciding with Palm Sunday, which, if you’re not familiar with the Christian tradition, is the Sunday Christians recognize Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem before Passover.
On Palm Sunday, we remember how people shouted “Hosanna!” and how Jesus rode triumphantly into the city of Jerusalem on a donkey as kings were known to do. People lauded Him as king and placed palm branches on the ground for the donkey to travel over. This was the custom when welcoming a king. The people shouted, “Hosanna!” meaning, “savior” or “save” in Hebrew and the Greeks interpret it to mean a salutation of celebration. Either way, it appears that the people were excited to welcome their savior. They thought that finally, Messiah had come to free them from Roman tyranny.
They laid down their palms and their coats. This sign of submission elevated Jesus as king in their hearts. It fulfilled the prophecy written in Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O my people! Shout with joy! For look—your King is coming! He is the Righteous One, the Victor! Yet he is lowly, riding on a donkey’s colt!” (TLB).
I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe in divine appointments. And on this Palm Sunday on my way home from church, I was fretting over where God was going to move us. You see, our landlord is selling our house and we have to be out in July. So at this crossroads, we must make some hard decisions.
Florida’s housing market has risen 62% since we moved here (Source: https://www.freddiemac.com/research/indices/house-price-index). Florida is ranked #31 in home affordability in the nation. In my own neighborhood, houses sell the same day they go up for sale. And now, our landlord wants in on that market. I can’t blame him. It would be foolish not to take advantage of the millions of people clamoring for homes and paying high asking prices. Who wouldn’t want to earn 62% on an investment?
Because our twins with autism, now age 27, still reside with us, we can’t get by with a two-bedroom apartment. So, we are faced with what to do next. Do we stay and hope for the best? Or do we move? And why, oh why, doesn’t God make it obvious? I mean, would it be so hard to send a skywriter?
No. Nothing is too hard for God. But I also know that He wants me to have faith. And this will build my faith and make me stronger. You’d think I’d have massive spiritual muscles by now with as many faith-building experiences as I’ve lived through. But, apparently, even in my old age, I have more workouts ahead of me.
I’m disappointed at the prospect of leaving Florida. But here’s what happened to me on Sunday.
Each day when I arrive home I park my little car under a palm tree in our driveway. I love palm trees. I love being around them. I love walking out my door and seeing them. I love living among them. I love living in Florida. There are a lot of things I truly dislike about the Sunshine State, but the weather is just so lovely, and there’s always something to do and see and enjoy, and I can swim year-round.
I love our church. I love singing in our band at church. I love my friends here. There are so many things I love. But sometimes, God will use circumstances to move us along. And I am too aware that if I’m holding on to something too hard, my hands aren’t open to receive what God has next for me.
And so, as I stepped out of my car on Palm Sunday, I looked up at the branches of that palm tree, and I told Jesus I would lay down those palm branches I love so very much for Him. Not that I’m doing HIM in any favors, mind you. I need to lay down my dreams and hopes of how to spend my later years in life and accept what He has for me. I truly do want to be in the center of His will.
I need to lay down my dreams and hopes of how to spend my later years in life and accept what He has for me.
It may mean giving up seeing palm trees everyday. And that’s okay if it’s what HE wants and not the result of the enemy stealing from me and my family. Besides, why should I have the audacity to think I would have a better idea than God about what to do next? What if God is moving us to protect us? How often do we think about that? He sees what’s coming down the pike. I don’t.
According to Wikipedia the palm branch is a symbol of victory, triumph, peace and eternal life, originating in the ancient Near East and the Mediterranean world. Maybe that’s why my soul is drawn to them. I don’t know. The only thing I really do know is this: You can trust God. I can trust God. He has promised to take care of me. I will lay down anything to serve Him. I want Him to know that.
Is there something you’re having a difficult time letting go of? If you hang on too tight, your hand won’t be open to receive what our Master has. Let it go. Laying our dreams down is a form of worship. We are submitting to Him as king. This isn’t all there is. I’m certain that our everlasting life with Him will give us more desires of our heart than we can begin to imagine.
I can hardly wait to see the palm trees.