“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.” (Isa 35:1-2 NIV)
Have you ever lived in a desert, surrounded by hills of unending sand, with heat that makes you sweat the minute you step outdoor of you air-conditioned home?
We lived for a time in the Sonoran Desert, in Southern Arizona. It was a place where you could literally cook eggs on the sidewalk! But I discovered something vitally important while living there. Even amidst the aridity of the desert, mindboggling splendors can be found. Flowers, for example, are abundant at certain times of the year, even in this arid climate. The cacti bloom in the spring, the Ocotillo plants bloom whenever it rains, and even when the plants aren’t blooming, the desert itself creates its own kind of flower: The Desert Rose, also known as the Gypsum Rose.
These are formed in areas where shallow puddles of mineral-rich water have evaporated, which doesn’t take too long in such sweltering heat! Each rose in unique, some growing in a distinct pattern, and others growing haphazardly. But most of them do, indeed, look like roses!
Some of these roses can be found on the surface of the desert, as the winds eat away the sand. Others are buried at a depth of 20-120 cm (1-4 feet), and people must dig to find them. Some form in as little as ten years, while others take centuries to form, and some are small, while others grow up to eleven meters (433 inches) in length! Now that’s one BIG rose!
If we take the time to search for it, we will discover that the desert blooms in rather unexpected ways! The same is true when we face the aridity of life. Everything we do seems to go wrong. We may be looking for a job without success, friends seem to evaporate, and neighbours are talking behind our backs. We either can let ourselves become discouraged, thus allowing the aridity access to us, or we can start looking for the unexpected.
God is our Father, after all, and we know, deep down into our hearts, that He will never abandon us. It’s during such times that we discover that there is much more to life than getting our own way. God has a plan for us that is much bigger than any plan we may have come up with for ourselves!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer 29:11 NIV)
May we remember that even amidst total barrenness, desert roses bloom. In the same way, God’s plans will also bloom for us!
Be careful though. These roses can easily be stepped on before we even realize they exist!