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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Green (10/22/09)

TITLE: How Green Was My Desert
By Brenda Shipman


How Green Was My Desert

“Hell Hole”. That was the nickname for Yuma, Arizona, my hometown. It’s a dusty old place, hot--record temperature 124 degrees, and dry--annual rainfall two inches. Yuma’s nearby sand dunes have been the subject of a few movies (3:10 to Yuma, of course), and also the film location for “Flight of the Phoenix” with Jimmy Stewart. There is dirt or sand everywhere you look. Basically, it’s a very TAN town, surrounded by an even tanner desert. Much of the green that is there hides from the untrained eye, and a lot of people just plain hate living there. But it was my “growin’ up place”, and I pretty much loved it as a kid.

Throughout my childhood in Yuma, I developed a love affair with the color green, and I suspect it happened because I was simply “green hungry”. After you live in the desert for so many years, you start to notice, and love, every small sign of vegetation: cantaloupe growing in the fields; a few acres of orange groves here and there; a couple palm trees dotting the landscape; and my favorite--lovely bougainvillea vines with their hot pink blossoms popping up occasionally in yards. These glimpses of green thrilled my heart, brought me joy, and reminded me of my beautiful and artistic creator God.

But most of the green you find in Yuma did not spring up naturally; it had to be planted by someone. And the same is true in our walks with God.

At some point in time, each of us may find ourselves in the middle of a spiritual desert - lost, thirsty, parched and eventually desperate for any sign of life and help. We need encouragement, hope, renewal--a stream in our desert. We need green; and when we’ve finally had our fill of tan, God miraculously leads us to a small garden in the desert, a garden He Himself has planted. Or it may even be just a blade of grass. Still…it’s green, and that is good, especially when you’re surrounded by so much tan!

It may be a thoughtful e-mail from a friend, a hug from one of your kids, a scripture verse that speaks directly to your heart, or a lovely flower you see on a walk. Whatever form it takes, it is a tiny glimpse of God’s glory and can flood our hearts with hope. These are our “green moments”, when God is whispering His comfort and urging us to stay on the path, even if means trudging through a dry rock-strewn wilderness. We can say with the Psalmist, “He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:3

Dwelling in a desert for most of my life also prepared me to be content wherever else I lived, because frankly, every other place seemed like a paradise! The desert times can teach us contentment and thankfulness for each experience God brings our way. So often in His Word He says, “Remember…“. He tells us to remember those deserts and how faithful He was to provide comfort in all of those “waste places” scattered throughout our lives.

“Indeed, the Lord will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord.” Isaiah 51:3

For me, it took massive doses of tan in order to treasure green all the more. It also has taken massive doses of heartache in the midst of difficult spiritual deserts to get me desperately seeking the Comforter in my journey toward heaven. God is capable of drawing life from even the most desolate times in our lives.

Life here on earth truly can often seem like my hometown’s nickname, a veritable “Hell Hole”. C.S. Lewis said we are living in the "shadowlands"…but we are headed toward a country that is lush with newness of life, and I would imagine, an awful lot of green.

May we each allow the Master Gardener to run streams through our deserts and miraculously grow green in the parched soil of our lives. And may we have the eyes to see it, love it, and praise God for it.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Arlene Showalter10/29/09
ahhhh...this brought back some memories for me. I was raised in San Diego and passed through Yuma numerous times on our way to Phoenix. I never cared much for the desert, but my mom LOVED it. We camped in those tan hills, hiked in the tan dirt, etc, etc.Endless tan serves well to help one appreciate green!!
Dan Blankenship 10/30/09
Yes, we do live in the shadowlands and if Yuma can be loved, just imagine what we'll think of Heaven!!!

May God bless!

Dan Blankenship

Charla Diehl 10/30/09
You did a beautiful job with this entry which read like a page from a devotional book.
Marie Fink11/01/09
This works as a devotion and is very encouraging. I love the metaphors and opposites, "a stream in our desert," "garden in the desert," "flood our hearts with hope,". The quotes and scripture fit perfectly for the piece.