On our recent trip to visit my brother and his wife in Arizona, I saw so many spiritual lessons in the beauty of the “high desert” landscapes. One morning before the heat of the sun drove me indoors to seek shade, I quietly walked around their yard, drinking in a scene of splendor that few individuals have learned to appreciate. My brother had filled their bird feeders and the yard was a hive of activity of a variety of beautiful birds, including a mother quail with a newborn brood of tiny chicks and a rabbit family. I stood as still as I could, until I blended into the big Cactus plants, close to where the birds were feasting, without disturbing them.
To my left towered the magnificent craggy mountain range that stood like a sentry protecting the valley below; the early morning sun touched its jagged peaks with splashes of gold.
In front of me, lay the very peaceful scene of an assortment of wild birds and rabbits, relishing the feast that had been provided for them by Henry.
Beside me, stood a massive desert Cactus that obviously had weather many a storm and death defying heat.
My attention turned to the cactus. Its thick large succulent body was covered with sharp 4 inch thorns which would inflict serious pain if one brushed against them. Yet among these thorny outgrowths flowered the most beautiful yellow blooms. Once the time of blooming was passed a prickly fruit would grow that the birds could feast on.
I was familiar with these same Cactus plants, as we had them growing on our Mission Station in Africa and when the fruit was ripe we would very carefully pluck them off, making sure none of the thorns touched out hands and mother would peal the outer layer and make the most delicious jam from the fruity pulp inside.
As I stood there a spiritual lesson began to grow in my heart.
I was reminded of the following scripture that seemed an apply illustration of this Cactus plant’s function in life.
Matthew 5:16 (NKJV) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
In the world we live in, we are going to have all kinds of problems, frustrations and difficulties. They come to us as “thorny trials and times of testing”. These times are part of our journey in life. So knowing this, what do we do?
We must remain steadfast and persevere. In other words, the answer is never give up! No matter what’s going on in our lives, the victory is in refusing to quit. Those thorns on the cactus are very necessary protection for beautiful blooms and fruit to mature.
Bear in mind that in the heat of our thorny struggles, the Lord is doing His greatest work within us.
He uses these circumstances to strengthen our faith and trust in Him.
Our Lord is not in our lives for good times only, but for the difficult times as well.
He will lead us through anything if we’ll just hang in there and follow Him.
This means being diligent in prayer, relentless in our resolve, unwavering in faith, and determined to stand firmly on God’s Word and His promises to us.
So many times we can be sidetracked by how slowly things seem to be going. In fact, the enemy loves to point that out! But remember, that’s when God may be doing some of His greatest work in us.
The Lord’s work in us is preparation for the work He wants to do through us.
You may ask….what is the point of these times of suffering?
The answer is that our lives will become like the beautiful flowers on the Cactus plant that in turn bears fruit to feed the hungry souls that God sends our way!
Do not fear the thorny path you are walking but rest in the knowledge that God will help you if you remain steadfast and true to His calling.
I close this Nugget with this challenge; let us stand on:
Galatians 6:9: “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (NLT).