While on my walk the other day I was captivated by how many flowering cacti plants I saw on the hillsides. The blossoms are so delicate, but be careful if you attempt to touch them! Their defense mechanisms will become a permanent memory when you unintentionally encounter them.
Not a plant I observed growing up in the Midwest, they thrive in extremely dry environments, such as deserts; they’re plentiful in areas that endure drought, hence, we have them here in Colorado in abundance, despite the daily doses of rain we’ve been getting lately. The blossoms of pink and orange and yellow consumed my picture taking the other day while braving the heat for a four mile walk.
What point paraded through my pondering that day? Those prickly spines (which, per Wikipedia are highly modified leaves which help prevent water loss) can inflict some major, long-lasting pain! I experienced it myself that afternoon.
My mind swiftly saw those spines as a prickly hedge of protection around the delicate prize parading itself on top; those beautiful blossoms. And like a game of connect-the-dots, my mind darted next to my children and all of you who are dear to my heart, around whom I pray a hedge of protection.
Though it makes me cringe to quote Satan, in the story of Job, he’s quick to point out the hedge of protection our Lord had secured around Job. (I’ll be very quick to admit that I pray God never feels it necessary to point me out to Satan as He did Job.) Satan responds to God by saying, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has?” Job 1:9-10 NIV
Perhaps we’re not quick to recognize God’s hedge of protection, because we focus on the “bad things that happen” in our lives. It reminds me of an old story, whose author escapes me, but I’ll share here (note: by sharing this story I do not imply that it’s biblically sound):
“Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion’s guest room. Instead the angels were given a small space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it.
When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, “Things aren’t always as they seem.”
The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had, the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night’s rest
When the sun came up the next morning, the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field.
The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel, “How could you have let this happen? The first man had everything, yet you helped him. The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let the cow die!”
“Things aren’t always what they seem,” the older angel replied. “When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn’t find it. Then last night as we slept in the farmer’s bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave him the cow instead. Things aren’t always as they seem.”
Divine protection is fiercer than the spines on the cactus, it’s more tangible than your face, and it’s unmovable and already knows what to protect us from and what to let through to nourish us. The divine protection of which I speak is the very Spirit of God Himself; we are the apple of His eye, the delicate blossoms that adorn His creation.
Perhaps ask God to show you a few things He’s protected you from while you fought your way through a battle. Maybe even find the boldness to ask Him for some revelation about the struggle you’re facing right now.
Father, thank You for such powerful protection from the enemy; and from myself. Amen.
|(All three cactus photos are my own.)|