“This is what the Lord says: ‘The people who survive the sword will find favor in the wilderness…”
Growing up my Grandmother displayed an array of flowers and plants throughout her house and yard. I have always felt so pulled toward the little flower boxes, to gaze upon their beauty and ask just what type each respective colored bloom was. Her flowers reminded me so of love. Just these colorful sprees of life, beckoning all to come and rest for a while. They added such flair and design to an otherwise bare porch.
Inside her house to this day sits an interestingly shaped cactus plant. Yep, you heard me. Beauty outside. Cactus inside. In her kitchen no less! How could one plant all of these gorgeous creations to enjoy the sunlight and star gazes only to destroy the whole thing with a hideous looking cactus plant right smack in the heart of the house?
Now, this cactus plant is not your ordinary desert dweller. It honestly looks like a bunch of fingers, pointing straight at you as if identifying you as the culprit. Every time I catch a glimpse of it, I am worried police are coming to bring me in for a crime. The thing should be burned. My Grandma loves it. “Beautiful in its own way…”
“Grandma,” I’ve said on many occasions, “it is a cactus and it has bitten me more than once. Not counting all the other grandchildren it has attacked in its years! You do remember the Summer House incident of ‘93, don‘t you?”
She just laughs and comments on how the poor plant should be pruned. I’ve never understood it. That is until this New York girl found herself in Texas. In the middle of a glassed-in cactus exhibit. These things get big and some of them well…I will admit it here…it could have been the chocolate talking since I was actually participating at a chocolate festival that day but…some of those cacti were actually…ahem…beautiful. I took pictures and everything! Tall. Strong. Sure of themselves. Sure that what lives inside of them is enough to keep them going…these cacti knew who they were!
Wouldn’t you know the Lord spoke to me through cactus plants? Cactus are built to survive and their lives are not all light rainstorms and rainbows. They have hard lives: dirt, heat, cold nights, barrenness. Cacti somehow find favor in the desert.
Not much unlike us, the faithful followers of Christ. I don’t know if you have just found yourself in the desert or if you have been desert walking for years. All I know is that I have been into a few deserts myself with the Lord and well, I am starting to look more and more like a cactus everyday! The Lord wants us to be able to survive - on Him alone- and so He takes us by our hands sometimes and leads us into the desert!
Moses knew what that was like, Deuteronomy 2:1 says,” Then we turned back and set out toward the wilderness along the route to the Red Sea as the Lord had directed me. For a long time we made our way around the hill country of Seir. “
For a long time Israel trekked through barren lands and sand stormed living because they were directed to do so. Do you relate? When you look around your life right now are you in the heart of the wilderness? If so, Jesus has two great truths for you today.
One is found in Deuteronomy 2:2. “Then the Lord said to [Moses], ‘You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north.’”
Dear one, eventually the Lord will call you out of your desert surroundings. If you are faithful to him even in your mirage-inducing settings you will see the second joy offered to us desert dwellers. Jeremiah 31:2 speaks to us! “This is what the Lord says: ‘The people who survive the sword will find favor in the wilderness…”
Amidst desolate lands and parched mouths…you will find his favor if you remain faithful. Impossible? I think not…the cactus pulls it off. A rugged beauty. Sure, not the look we had always envisioned for ourselves but the look of a survivor.
Listen closely to His word, “Those who survive the sword will find favor in the wilderness…” Our hikes are battles we can be sure. The question is not if the trek is hard. We know it is. The question is will we give up and trade in our reward of favor to simply be a flower adorning a porch for the summer months? Or will we trade in our expectations and find favor in the wilderness, standing tall as cacti; taken care of and glorifying-ly alive?