There is no place more discouraging to life than the Sonora Desert in mid-summer, at the peak of day. The relentless sun blazes like an oven, baking any living creature that dares to come out from below ground. It is a dry heat consuming every drop of water in its path. To those ignorant of the desert, this alien, inhospitable landscape appears to be devoid of life. Rocks, hard-baked sand, near leafless trees, and towering Saguaro armies standing guard over a host of diverse cactus brothers all armored in long sharp thorns. First time visitors often rub their eyes in response and wonder if they’ve been somehow, transported to another planet, unawares. It takes patience and a willingness to endure to discover the abundance of life hidden and nurtured in the Sonora Desert; but for those who faithfully wait, the desert reveals in radiance a beauty that rivals all earthly beauty. It is a kaleidoscope land of rainbow colors that shifts with every hour of the day; within a cycle of seasons that pass from hell in the summer into winter paradise. This special desert performs a continual dance with the heavens reflecting its joyful colors. Even in hellish summer, this joyous celebration continues, in magnificent sunrises and sunsets that transforms the land in colorful reflections as bright as the sky. In all times and in all seasons the desert faithfully glorifies the sun.
Full-time Sonorans are a rare breed. Millions flock to the Sonora in winter and quickly flee northward at the first hint of summer heat. Only the faithfully dedicated remain and endure the discouragement of summer and patiently, await the return of the longer temperate season. Taking their cue from the native plant and wildlife, they hunker down and pull inward for necessary sustenance. Surviving the desert requires adaptation and the kind of nurturing that comes from within. Life-giving water stored in a place where the hungry sun can’t reach is vital for all who hope to emerge from the summer furnace to enjoy future seasons of growth and abundant life. It is the Saguaros who have adapted best. With vast stores of water within them they tower reaching for the sky fearlessly, standing guard in all seasons. The summer heat seems not to affect them as they patiently wait for the flowered crowns that adorn them in late winter and early spring. It is the Saguaro who set the example for all living things in the sometimes, harsh Sonora Desert.
As a believer in Christ Jesus living in a time inhospitable to faith, I also, look to the example of the Saguaro; those faithful guardians of my beloved Sonora Desert. I hear the discouraged cries of my brothers and sisters and I hope to encourage them also, with this message from the Saguaro. Dear ones, be assured that the Paradise season is on the way. In Jesus, we have all we need to endure the blistering heat that is beginning to beat down. Our sustenance is that fount of Living Water that through faith flows deep inside, safe from the thirsty heat. Like the Saguaro, those who belong to Jesus have our roots hidden in the cleft of the rock. With roots reaching deep into an underground stream that is unknown and unreachable to the relentless burning, we receive all we need to endure. Refuse the discouragement offered by the world and instead, reach toward Heaven and with joy look forward to receiving your flowered crown! No matter how hostile to our faith the world may become, no one can take away the joy we have in Jesus or evaporate His promise of future Paradise! Like the Sonora Desert, let us daily celebrate by reflecting and glorifying the Son in our daily lives. His righteousness is the only source of true joy in life-discouraging times.