In the Atacama Desert, three plant species can give us a tutorial on blooming in drought.
Llareta, an evergreen perennial, cannot grow in shade. It only grows about 1.5 cm per year, but lives to be about 3,000 years old. The plant’s leaves grow into a dense mat close to the ground, where the heat is the most intense, reducing the heat and conserving water.
Our faith cannot flourish under the shade of sin. Our natural bent is to blame the externals for the desert conditions, but sin is at the root everytime. Is it bitterness? Selfishness? Pride? Root it out and destroy it. We must flourish under the full Light of the Son.
Thyme thrives in both heat and cold. It acclimates. Because of this, it has culinary, medicinal, and ornamental uses in many of the harshest settings on the globe.
How often do I demand of the Lord that He make my setting match my expectations and goals? Instead of doing the Lord’s will, as Jesus did, I want the Lord to match up with my will. You know, the desires of my heart! Sin again.
Another pitfall is to never even consider something the Lord is asking us to do because it falls outside of our self-defined realm of possibility. We must acclimate! We must thrive in either the cold or the heat. We must fully obey the will of the Lord in all things, submitting to His leadership and direction. Our uses will be limitless in the work He is doing.
Finally, salt grass thrives in the Atacama Desert. Its hardiness allows it to grow even where the corrosive salt from the ocean hovers. The salty “camanchaca” sea fog comes to rest on the Atacama Desert; however, salt grass gets rid of excess salts by secreting it onto its surfaces.
The Kawaiisu Indians were able to scrape so much salt from the leaves of the salt grass that they made salt blocks. Horses and cattle can graze on the salt grass when little other food can be found for them in the harsh environment.
Jesus commanded His followers to be “in” the world, but not “of” the world. It’s a corrosive environment. But, when I have discarded sin and am paying close attention to obeying the will of the Lord, I am ready to make use of the salt! In fact, I become “the salt of the earth,” helping others survive this inhospitable climate by sharing the love of Christ with them.
In order to flourish and bloom in dry times, we must eliminate the shade of sin, acclimate to the will of the Lord, and take the corrosive, salty atmosphere of the world and transform it through the lens of the Gospel.
Jesus spent a lot of time in desert places, and in each case, He was communing with the Father. We can do the same.