This past weekend was the first weekend all spring that I’ve had the opportunity to get out in the backyard and clean up after the winter chill. One of my projects was cleaning up around our dock. In doing so, I noticed a rather large stick in the water just beyond the edge of the dock. When I reached down to pull it out, I was surprised to see that this submerged stick was blooming with green leaves.
Last fall, I trimmed many of the bushes growing by the lake, and had thrown most of the clippings into a pile to be burned. Those clippings quickly withered as they sat in the sun, far away from the roots of the plant from which they came. But this particular stick fell into the water and stayed there all winter. When the weather began to warm, the dormant stick came to life, even though it had been submerged for months. But the rest of the sticks that came from the very same bush made excellent kindling when they were away from their source of life-giving water.
All plants are like that. If you take away their life-source, they quickly wither and die. That’s the problem with palms as well. The scriptures tell us that Jesus entry in Jerusalem for the last week of his life was marked by a celebration. Celebrants covered the road with their cloaks, Jesus rode into town on a donkey (Jesus never rode anywhere), the happy throng even cut palm fronds from the trees and waved them before our Lord. There were glorious shouts of “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” If they had known about confetti, they would have even used that. There’s just one problem. Parties end. Cloaks are put back on. Praises silence. And green, vibrant palm fronds quickly become dry, brittle kindling. That’s the problem with palms.
Fast forward a week. That happy Palm Sunday throng became a violent Good Friday mob. “Hosanna” was replaced with “crucify him.” Waving palm fronds became waving fists. And our King was crowned with scorn and shame. And undoubtedly those same green palm fronds were withered, brown, and ready for the fire.
This calls for a serious question. What are you doing to stay connected with your source of life? What’s keeping you from becoming a dry, brittle remnant of what you once were? Are you connected to “living water”? One of Jesus’ last teachings before his crucifixion spoke to this point directly. In John 15, Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.”
Turns out that it is not only the problem with palms – it’s also the problem with you and me. If we do not stay connected to our source of vitality, we’re really not suited for anything other than the burn pile. But if we will stay connected to our source of life, then we can look forward to much fruit and a victorious walk with our Lord.
Are you connected to the vine? We’ll know by your fruit!