Monday, March 30, 2015

Beauty in the Desert

It is late March and the view from the veranda at our “home away from home” is so very different from what we would be looking at if we were in the U.P. right now. (SNOW!)  There is a beautiful vista that encompasses mountain peaks, scrubby bushes, cacti of many shapes and sizes, brilliant sunshine, blue sky, hawks riding the air currents and winding dusty roads.  When we first arrived here, I told our hosts I felt like I was in an alternate universe!

What a blessing to be able to leave behind a spring snowstorm; gratitude fills my heart that my husband and I can reconnect with precious family members.  Our hosts’ generosity is over the top as they provide great meals and excursions to points of interest.  And then there is the swimming pool right out the back door.

Earlier this week we hiked around the hills, over the rocks, down the dusty road and through the “wash”.  Everywhere I looked it was mostly brown and pale green but here and there, color shouted at us!  The spring flowers are beginning to explode in vibrant spots of color amid the cactus thorns - we even came across a couple of small pools of water.  I am so taken with how dry and arid it is here, at least at this time of year. 

And yet, there is “life” everywhere…. the “critters”.  Bats (swooping around us last night, my least favorite of God’s creatures), deer, snakes, jack rabbits, wild pigs, lizards and tarantula spiders, all residents of the desert landscape.  So far we have actually seen only the deer, bats and a jack rabbit.  I’m ok with not actually experiencing the others!

As I take in my surroundings and experience this unique land, I can’t help but be reminded about how life is a lot like this terrain.  There have been those times my life seemed dry…arid…thorny…. colorless, as in “blah” beige.  Sometimes life has been full of rocks that had to be maneuvered, climbed over or navigated around.  Refreshment (like the scant bit of water we saw on our walk) was rare and minimal.

Maybe today you are in one of those seasons: someone you love is facing serious illness; your husband lost his job; loss has you in a valley of grief.  Maybe your prayer life feels as arid as the desert and attending church feels more like a habit than a joyful weekly event.  Perhaps you sit down to do Bible study and it’s a challenge to apply those eternal truths to the day in, day out rhythm of your life.

Then one day, you look up and God’s love hits you between the eyes….springs out of nowhere like the amazing cactus flowers.  You look up, scan the horizon and see the greatness and sovereignty of God, just like the view from the deck of our vacation home.  Like the critters that bring life to the desert, your “critters” may come in the form of the people God brought to you, at just the right time, to minister to your heart.  Maybe it’s a meal prepared for you, a sweet note in the mail or a phone call from someone unexpected.  Maybe a passage of scripture you have read a million times suddenly reaches into the dark areas of your heart. 

Here in Arizona there are awesome sunsets
and signs everywhere of God’s incredible love and provision.  I love how the saguaro cacti seem to just reach their arms to the heavens; the Bible says “even the rocks cry out” (paraphrase of Luke 19:40)….perhaps those cacti are reaching for heaven!

How is God showing Himself to you today?  Easter is soon upon us.  No matter what is happening in your life today.. if circumstances are difficult and you are in a “desert”, the resurrection of Jesus is all you, or any of us need.  Jesus was/is/will forever be the flower of hope that pushes through the cacti thorns of life.  What a great time of year to celebrate the Son!

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