I have a confession to make. People ask me how my book title, Among the Crepe Myrtles, relates to the story. It doesn’t. Well, let me clarify, at least it didn’t until I made it fit. I was reading the Minor Prophets when I came across the phrase “among the myrtle trees” in Zechariah 1:8. I can’t explain why, but I knew at that moment my book title would be “Among the Crepe Myrtles.” I’d tried out several other titles, but none gripped me like that phrase. So, to be accurate, I did research about crepe (or crape) myrtles growing in Texas. Bingo. It was very rewarding to weave the title into the story. Since then, I have done more research on the crepe myrtle. To my pleasant surprise, my research revealed information that fit much of what my characters in the story struggled with and also what God was trying to do for them.
You may know the crepe myrtle as a shrub. You may know it as a tree. Indeed, it is both, and even to a girl whose green thumb is non-existent, the myrtle tree is quite interesting. (My neighbor has one planted next to the fence between our yards. I admire it as though it were mine. Truthfully, I am glad the tree does not belong to me, for it would have ceased to exist. That exact thing happened to my bonsai crepe myrtle.) The myrtle tree made its way into more than one story in Greek mythology. Perhaps the most noted is that of Adonis and Aphrodite. In many cultures, the myrtle represents beauty, love, paradise, and immortality. To the Jews, it can represent sweetness, divine generosity, peace, God’s promises, and recovery.
I find that the characterisitcs of the myrtle tree offer us some symbolic lessons.
- These trees and shrubs have the ability to grow in stony soil. Even in circumstances that seem unfavorable, the myrtle is designed to grow, thrive, and do what it was created to do. When believers allow God to do His work in us, we have joy and peace. He restores what the circumstances of life may have made bare. See Isaiah 55:12-13
- The myrtle tree is an evergreen designed to continually keep growing, always offering life. Colossians 2:6-7 tells says “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as your were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
- The myrtle tree is adaptable to grow in the wilderness, a setting that is not ideal. See Isaiah 41:19. Everyone of us can think of a time where we felt life left us in a harsh situation. A wilderness may not offer thriving fountains and beautiful florals, but it is not void of all life .
- Myrtle tress produce an aromatic beautiful blossom. 2 Corinthians 2:15 reminds believers that we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ to those around us.
- In Zechariah 1, this tree is seen as an emblem of peace. In this chapter, God is asking His people to return to Him from practicing immoral, ungodly practices. As a result, peace is promised. This same offer exists to us today. God promises inward peace that passes our understanding to those who have a growing relationship with Him.
- The Hebrew name for Esther, Hadassah, means myrtle. Esther is symbol of righteousness in an evil world. Esther allowed God to place her in a situation that she did not ask for and use her to represent Him.
I never cease to be amazed at the treasures found in the Bible and in Creation. I am grateful to God for His Word.
(Acknowledgment to Carolyn Roth Ministries: God as a Gardener and to flowerinfo.org)