Monday, June 2, 2008

thriving in dry places

We were very impressed with the cactus plants we saw in Arizona a few weeks ago.  The largest are called Saguaro.  They can grow to heights of 20-30 feet and live to be 200 years old.  The Saguaro is the state flower of Arizona!  I had a personal run-in with one of the smaller cactus bushes.  On a hike with my daughter, Bethany, I barely brushed against a cactus and a section attached to my shorts.  When I brushed it off with a stone, it flew down into my foot.  We took about 20 minutes removing cactus spines painfully one at a time and gained a healthy respect for this plant with its highly effective defense system.   The cactus plants look very unusual so they can thrive in an unusually dry environment.  They store water from infrequent rains in the thick stem (like a trunk).  The stem is like a big sponge and has a waxy outer coat to prevent water loss.  When infrequent rains come, the shallow root structure helps to collect moisture from the ground surface.  The Saguaro can absorb about 800 gallons of water from infrequent, but intense, rains.  Instead of making cholorophyll in leaves, which lose water, it makes it in its thick stem.
The Saguaro cactus was made to thrive and live long in a very dry and very hot environment.  Sometimes we, too, live in difficult times.  We may feel tested by extreme trials and pain and we may need to draw on the spiritual "water" within.  Like the Saguaro, we need to absorb the living waters that the Lord provides through His word and His presence, so that we can thrive in the desert heat of difficulty.  We even need to form spines to keep unwanted thoughts and attitudes from attacking our stems and robbing our strength.
Psalm 68:7-10 God, when you took the lead with your people,
      when you marched out into the wild,
   Earth shook, sky broke out in a sweat;
      God was on the march.
   Even Sinai trembled at the sight of God on the move,
      at the sight of Israel's God.
   You pour out rain in buckets, O God;
      thorn and cactus become an oasis
   For your people to camp in and enjoy.
      You set them up in business;
      they went from rags to riches.
Rob Smith

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