Last week, we spent a few days in the "country." For residents of Dallas, that's not saying much. But since we basically live in a concrete box, I am always pretty amazed every time we come into contact with, say, real grass. And trees. And I've written before about how the Texas, er, topography, doesn't really do it for me-- but-- I am growing to appreciate it. I'm growing to see more of God's personality and presence in things that before would have seemed, just, brown.
On a walk, we passed something unusual: a cactus growing out of a rock. It struck me because it was a living plant that was surviving-- and thriving-- in a hard place. And while a few years ago, a cactus would have seemed to me boring and generally unattractive, I now find them beautiful in a way. They are strong; they endure; and they grow in hard places.
I'm not currently in a hard place in life. Our time in Texas has for the most part been more like a bed of roses. But much of my life has been more like the rock: hard, dry, extreme. Survival often seemed like a one-in-a-million chance. And looking back, I can see how God not only provided all that I needed to be sustained in the midst of my circumstances, but adorned my life with a cactus-kind of beauty. It may not have always looked like I wanted, it may not have always felt good or fit my definition of beautiful, but it was reflective of His provision and His grace in its own unique way. And that made it beautiful.
I'm not currently in a hard place in life, but I know people who are. As I saw the cactus, I thought of them. I thought of my mother who has persevered for over a decade now as a widowed mother of six. I thought of my friend whose first year of life in the desert-- across the ocean and far from all she's ever known-- is coming to a close. I thought of countless others whose lives have mirrored this cactus' story, who have not only survived in hard places, but thrived. I thanked God for the beauty He has put on display through them, and for the reminder that everything reflective of His grace and sufficiency-- whether soft or hard, brightly colored or faded by the intense rays of the sun-- is beautiful.