As we drove over the sandy brown sierras in Baja California, about the only thing surviving was the cacti. Not accustomed to desert landscape, their funny shaped arms and grey-green, linked bodies often resembled human forms in an otherwise lonely landscape. These cardón cacti stretched across the entire vista.
What could possibly allow them to survive in this hot, dusty place that sometimes doesn’t rain for eleven years?
Wrinkles; well, folds really. The vertical ribs underneath the cactus are similar to an accordion which allows it to store an unbelievable amount of water to survive the dry desert conditions. Amazingly, these stately specimens can be 300 years old.
And reading this in a Baja botany book, made me fall in love with this unfriendly plant.
We all need to adapt some way to cope with our surroundings. And this clever plant not only allows for expansion and contraction of its gray-green waxy skin, it has also become the world's largest variety. Some of the oldest specimens have been reported weighing 25 tons, at a height of 70 feet tall at maturity. That’s not just surviving, that’s thriving!
Do I adapt the same, I wonder? When I get stuck in a long (TSA) line or just breeze through, is my attitude the same? On years when there will be few home for Christmas do I find ways to enjoy it the same as when everyone will be home and the house will be filled with loved ones? The key, I believe, must be on the inside.
The interior framework of Pachycereus pringlei is something really special, I learned.To support its massive weight, it has lightweight, hardwood vertical roots that are amazingly strong and stiffen the ribs. We encountered this internal framework one night when we found a dried head of cactus and put it on our fire. Once the outside gave way, the expansion chambers literally blew up – a little at a time – leaving us in a fire shower like we’d never seen around a campfire.
We laughed and jumped and put out all the embers. And as I sat pondering this phenomenon, the Lord gently reminded me that faith is the ribwork of my life; that the lean years and flush years only swell the outside a little, but built in – where none can see – are chambers for His Holy Spirit to fill.
If I choose to focus more on the outside events, I may easily blow up too.
However, if I let the wrinkles of life – inside and out – merely expand as needed, and focus my real energy on the slow and steady growth that God is doing inside me, then perhaps like the Baja cardón so thoroughly adapted to its environment that it has become the biggest cactus species, my faith will not just survive, it will thrive.
And this is my hope for you, too; let your faith be built from the inside out so that come what may you will be an adaptable, expandable, amazing, (hopefully not too funny looking) planting of the Lord.