Made for This
At 2:30 p.m., our group found its way to the parking lot and found our Jeeps lined up and waiting. Five of us piled into an old blue Jeep, and we bumped our way down a trail scarcely marked by more than a thin, brown metal marker labeled with a few white numbers. Our guide has lived in the area for years, and it was fascinating to listen as she pointed out different plants and shared how they are able to survive in such a harsh climate. After a bit of driving, our caravan pulled to a stop, and we were encouraged to gather around while Jack (one of our guides) began to explain, in more detail, some of the wonders of the desert we had seen throughout our drive so far.
He picked up a piece of one cactus with a pair of metal kitchen tongs, and with his fingers, gently tugged at the sheath around one of the needles. He then passed the sheath around for each of us to see, and explained that the thin, flexible shield had ultraviolet properties that protected the needle, the cactus' main source of water absorption, from the sun. How amazing! Around each of the thousands of tiny needles on one cactus plant is a protective barrier that allows the cactus to thrive in a desert that only gets water a few times a year. Jack finished his talk, and we piled back into our vehicles to continue our drive.
As we drove and chatted, our driver shared something else miraculous about another type of cactus, the Saguaro, that was plentifully sprinkled throughout the landscape. She pulled out a rather interesting hollow bulb, about the size of my fist, and explained to us that when a bird decides to nest in the cactus, the cactus develops this protective barrier around the opening that the bird has made for its nest. This barrier serves to protect the cactus' water supply from the bacteria that the bird introduces to the plant. If the bacteria from the bird is introduced to the water supply, the plant will die. Water is that important in the desert; it isn't as if the cactus can just get more if the water supply is tainted. I was continuously blown away by the detail that God placed into each plant in order help it thrive in an environment hostile to most of the plants I was familiar with. I returned from our drive with a deeper appreciation for God's creativity and purpose, even in the tiniest of details.
It seems that lately I've encountered more and more people that express great concern for our world and current events. I've heard things like, "I feel so bad for you, having to raise your children in a world like this!", and "How are they going to make it as a Christian? Doesn't it scare you when you think about their future?" I admit, I've had the same questions. It's difficult to scroll through my news feed or turn on the evening news for more than a few minutes without seeing something that saddens or, sometimes, even scares me.
What if, though, just as God created the cactus to thrive in the desert, so He created my children to thrive in a sin-soaked world? Ephesians 2:10 clearly indicates that "...we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do". God created me with a specific purpose, so it logically follows that He has a plan for my children, as well. He didn't haphazardly select the year in which we would be born, or the number of our days, and current events don't surprise Him any more than a cactus thriving in the desert does.
God chose me, and created me, for right now, just as He created and chose my children for their future. They will have opportunities to live their faith in a way that I never will, and that excites me. I can claim with confidence that we are made for this, instead of choosing to look to the future in fear. Just as God created the cactus with the ability to survive in the desert, so He equips us and future generations to live for Him in the darkness.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the tangible reminders You place in ordinary days that remind me of Your purpose and plan. Help me to look to the future in faith instead of fear, and to remember that the darkness of this sin-filled world can never overcome the light that You give. I don't want to shrink back in fear; give me confidence to step forward in faith, knowing that You have the ultimate victory. Set my children apart for something special, and may they light their world on fire for You. Use me, and use them, to point others to Jesus. Amen.