Another excerpt from Leona’s book-in-progress, FINISHING IT UP—with a FLOURISH, the Sequel to her published book LIVING IT UP—Meditations for “Seasoned Saints”
YES, WE HAVE NO BANANAS!
A papaya tree has only three fruit bearing years and then dies. You have to save some seeds from the luscious, sweet fruit at the end of the third year if you expect to continue enjoying that fruit. Then you must chop down the old tree even if it still looks healthy. If not, it will become a tall, awkward tree without any fruit and virtually good for nothing.
Banana trees are worse. They produce only one bunch of bananas in their lifetime, all in one year! After that you better chop them down to make space for new trees. The next time you eat a banana, I hope you appreciate it because the tree used all its strength to produce one bunch of green fruit and then became barren!
The human span of life is not as fixed as the lifetime of trees. Suppose the average life span today is 85 years. In that time how many days or years do we produce spiritual fruit? Some people are like banana trees and have only one bunch of fruit to their credit. Others are fruitful for the Lord for only a few short years, perhaps in their youth or prime middle age. By the time they become elderly, they can’t imagine that God still expects fruit bearing from them. They think they are off the hook and can just coast toward the sunset of life.
On the contrary, God does have expectations for the righteous in Christ that extend to the very limits of life. “The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, he will grow like a cedar in
What’s so special about the palm tree? In the land of the Bible, date palms were the main variety of palm trees. We can learn many spiritual lessons from its characteristics. Long life? Yes! The tree begins to bear good fruit during the eighth year and is mature at 30 years.
God expects fruit even from the very young either in age or spiritual experience. Fruit bearing is His desire for all of us throughout our lifetime.
The palm tree continues to grow about one foot a year for the first 50 years, after which the rate begins to decrease—but new fronds (branches) still develop.
Even after our physical growth levels off, God has planned for us to be renewed every day spiritually. Although our natural body eventually begins to go down hill, our spirit can be robust and healthy continuing to reach out to new horizons.
Incredibly, date palms bear fruit annually for well over 100 years!
That’s God’s normal plan for His children too!
There is no “‘retirement” in God’s Kingdom; there is only “re-firement.” We are called to progress “from glory to glory” and “from strength to strength.” To the chronologically mature Christians, God promises that His mercies and care and strength continue to be “new every morning.” Because of God’s perpetual refreshing, their spiritual youthfulness can keep on going, and going, and going—like the “Energizer Bunny” in the battery commercials. God said He fully expects their fruit bearing to continue prolifically and “flourish like the palm tree.”
God declared through prophets that His Spirit will be poured out in the last days on all mankind (all flesh) and “your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions, and even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days” (Joel 2:28-31). Wonderful news! The Spirit is coming upon the old and also upon the young! Youth will not be a limitation to witnessing or serving the Lord, nor will old age.
Nor is the gospel just for the young. Because of the outpouring of God’s Spirit in these last days, we should expect that many elderly will be swept into the Kingdom in their last days, because their earthly time is already shorter. Each person is precious in God’s sight. Our value to Him doesn’t diminish with age. Moreover, we should expect that there will be a great impartation of power from the elderly to the youth, and that the elderly, in turn, will be energized spiritually by what God is doing among the young. We should expect and encourage cross-generational ministries in our churches. Godly patriarchs and matriarchs will pass on blessings to their families. The oil will trickle from the head down to all as God restores the elderly to their rightful place as family heads in His house.
Many Christians quote Psalm 90 (A Psalm of Moses) verse 10 as the expected normal boundary for our life span: “...threescore years and ten, if by reason of strength fourscore years....” A note on that Psalm in the Amplified Bible places that verse in context and should correct our thinking and personal expectation:
“Moses is interceding with God to remove the curse which made it necessary for every Israelite over twenty years of age (when they rebelled against God at Kadesh-barnea) to die before reaching the Promised Land. (Numbers. 14:26-35)
Moses says most of them are dying at seventy years. This number has often been mistaken as a set span of life for all mankind. It was not intended to refer to any one except those Israelites under the curse during that particular forty years. Seventy years never has been the average span of life for humanity. When Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes reached 130 years (Gen. 47:9), he complained that he had not attained to the years of his immediate ancestors. In fact, Moses lived to be 120, Aaron 123, Miriam several years older, and Joshua 110; while in the Millennium a person dying at 100 will still be a child (Isaiah. 65:20).”
In Psalm 91:16 David was speaking for God when he declared, “With long life will I satisfy him, and show him My salvation.” Let the chronologically mature saints continue to love God and serve Him and live for Him by passing on His witness and words and faithfulness and spiritual heritage to the generations that follow—until they are satisfied to let God call them Home. Surely we should not cut ourselves short by anticipating an arbitrary fourscore life span that was not meant to apply to born again, Spirit-filled men and women of God!
If wineskins become old and brittle, hardened and inflexible, they can still be refreshed, softened, and renewed with oil—symbolizing the oil of the Holy Spirit anointing us. Then they will be fit to hold the New Wine of the Spirit being poured out these latter days.
Let’s learn more about the date palm in
We should be honored and also humbled that God chose the palm tree to symbolize us who are righteous in Christ. We are an emblem unto the Lord.
Aside from its artistic and symbolic characteristics, the date palm has many practical uses, among them for food, roofing for houses, and even providing raw material for making rope and weaving articles.
So the Lord has chosen each of us to fill unique positions in the Body of Christ. Yes, we are beautiful to the Lord, but in the sight of men we should not be simply decorations without any usefulness in the service of the
God knows each of us by name and calls us to our individual tasks to glorify Him.
Date palms are found in groves as well as lone specimens.
Sometimes in God’s plan there are lonely times, and we are called to go through periods of isolation without seeing God’s purpose for our lives. His normal plan for us is “to set the solitary in families,” to be part of a local fellowship of believers who help one another to pray, worship, and be nurtured toward our mature growth.
Plantings were often made by travelers, especially at water holes and wells.
Scriptures teach us to sow the seeds of the gospel and His Word “in season and out of season” wherever we go. He will see to it that the seed sprouts and grows into the harvest that He intends..
Often the planting was not intentional, but the result of the date pit falling into the moist sand of an oasis and taking root.
Jesus taught that we should take care to be good soil to receive His Word so that it might take root and not be snatched away by the Enemy. Nothing in God’s creation that bears fruit does so for its own pleasure. Fruit is meant to share. It contains within it seeds that are meant to reproduce. We should generously welcome others to help themselves from our Fruit of the Spirit. It is, after all, meant for them, not for us.
The dried date is full of nutrition and sugar and was easy to take in its dried form on long desert journeys. It was customary for a caravan to stop and eat at desert watering holes or at an oasis where the pits found the perfect environment for propagation.
When we abide in Christ and He in us, the fruit that develops in us is sweet and nourishing for those we come in contact with. Weary fellow travelers on the long journey of life need to draw from our life in Christ to sustain them during their desert times.
As ancient travelers crisscrossed the deserts of the
Increase is God’s life principle. His expectation for us is to bear not only fruit, but more fruit and much fruit. (John 15:2,8)
Just how flourishing and generous with its fruit is the date palm? Each female tree may bear 200-1,000 dates a season.
The Lord’s expectation for our fruit bearing is in proportion to the opportunities and talents He gives us. To whom much is given, of him shall much be required.
A cluster of dates weighs up to 25 pounds. The annual yield of a single tree may reach 600 pounds. And this continues every year for over 100 years!
Human reproduction is limited to a certain age in the life cycle, with notable exceptions like Abraham and Sarah and Elizabeth. But in God’s plan for spiritual life He expects flourishing fruit bearing all the days of our lives, even unto old age. Advanced chronological age is no excuse.
The above is only part of the chapter on this topic. If you would like a copy of the entire draft chapter, request it in the "Comments" at the end of this post, along with your e-mail address, and Leona will send it to you as an attachment.