Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

Keep on growing, Friend.

I live in a beautiful place called the Sonoran Desert. The flora and fauna are remarkable in their variety and their resilience. Maybe the most striking desert resident is the Saguaro Cactus. They are plentiful, but each is remarkably unique. It is not unusual to find folks out of their cars taking pictures of the gnarled configurations of these stately giants. I snapped one this morning because he had such a cute little banana-shaped arm on his head 40 feet above ground. These guys grow up to 20 meters high, they live as long as 150 years. The thing that makes them so interesting is always the twists and turns of their branches, or arms, as we often refer to them. That is what causes folks to stop and take pictures.

As Christians, we could learn a few things from the Saguaro:

1. Saguaros only grow from seed, never from pieces broken off. Don’t you wish we could say that about churches? If you want to start a church because you don’t like your old one, or because you got mad at the pastor, or just because you need a place to preach, please don’t. Churches have life when they are planted, not broken off.

2. The saguaro draws up water through its root system during the rainy season and stores it inside. It may expand by several feet in circumference to accommodate the influx. This enables it to survive in the dry times. How many Christians do you know who pay little attention to the things of God until the crisis comes. Then they appear in church with a sob story asking for prayer and assistance. Please, get in the service where the Spirit of God is moving, and the water of the Word is flowing. Do it when you don’t think you need it and let your girth swell with revelation and anointing. Then when the drought comes you have reserves to carry you through.

3. Saguaros take some time to grow, 75 to 100 years before forming the first branch. The purpose of branches is reproduction, not decoration: more fruit equals more seed. The unique configuration that makes them so interesting and draws so much attention comes from their adjustments to the vicissitudes of weather: wind, sun, lightning, flash floods…. They are gnawed on by varmints and lived in by woodpeckers. They adapt and grow past every one of these insults, forming new arms in new directions, twisting to overcome adversity while continuing to grow upward toward the perennially blue Arizona sky. It is our response to the trials of life that makes us both interesting and fruitful. Never be embarrassed by trials. Be embarrassed to quit. Difficulties provide the opportunity for victory scars that make you interesting and believable to those looking for something and somebody real.

Somebody Said: It’s a shallow life that doesn’t give a person a few scars. Garrison Keillor

Scripture Reading: Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. (Rom 5:2-4 NLT)

I love the desert because of the ruggedness of its inhabitants. Every one of them has found a way to exist, and even triumph, in a very difficult environment. They are tough. Lord give us people who have been somewhere and done some stuff; no theories about what ought to work, but accounts of what really did work. We want our church to be planted by the Lord and full of His life, not our energy. I want to be a deep rooted, life-infused, ready for the –tough-times character. Let me be a long haul, keep-on-going, fight-on-through, slightly gnarled kind of guy. A few scars may be inevitable, but then maybe somebody will stop to take a picture. Who knows?



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