Sunday, August 21, 2011

arizona, desert disasters and cucumber porcupines

This morning I was thinking about a trip I took one time to Phoenix Arizona by myself.   For those of you who have never been to Arizona or at least the Phoenix area, it is a vast expanse of desert, surrounded by mountains and smack in the middle is a city.  I really have never seen anything like it.  It is absolutely one of the most beautiful, and friendly places I have ever come across.  While I was there, I had some time to myself and decided to take a walk in the desert.  It really wasn't the smartest thing to do actually, but because I rarely think ahead, I took off for a place to park the car and headed out into the sand and cactus.   The desert is a very peaceful place and quite beautiful.  Tiny lizards scurry from cactus to cactus dancing gently on the spines without worry of being impaled.  Only the occasional overhead jet or a voice far in the distance was the only sound.  However,  I really should have not taken my cue from the the silly little lizards on the danger from cactus spines.  As I was walking, I noticed these groups of small ground cactus with individual balls coming off them.  They each had spines on them and they resembled a cucumber crossed with a porcupine also known as a Jumping Chola.  I noticed some of these cucumber porcupine had fallen off some of the plants and so in my head I thought "self, you should pick up these things with spikes and take them home to your family".  Well, see, that is where the two halves of my brain fail to connect.  The first thought should have been for me to keep my hands to myself, and the other thought should have been, why would anyone want to take a tiny porcupine home to her family?  Neither of those thoughts even flashed across my brain. Not even for a second.   Nope.  Instead I reached down to pick up the prickly cucumber and as I did it launched itself at my hand.   The thing had literally come to life.    In an instant it had attached itself to my thumb, sticking it's spikes into the flesh and bone.  Without thinking I flicked my hand as hard as I could, shaking the attacker onto my exposed thigh.  So now, I have thorns and spikes coming from my thumb and also protruding from my thigh.  The pain was intense and knowing I was alone in the desert, I began hobbling back to the car.  Along the way I passed to older men who I am convinced saw my plight and began snickering as soon as I had passed, probably mumbling something like "dumb yankee girl, didn't her mama ever tell her to keep her hands to herself?"   After getting back to my nephew's apartment, I began the arduous task of pulling spikes, built like fishhooks, out of my leg and thumb.   It was one of the most painful things I've ever had happen.  The worst part was that I was still pulling out spikes 6 months later after they had festered and worked themselves to the surface.  Nothing like holding on to vacation memories. 
When I tried to relate it to life, I began to think of how much like my walk with the Lord is like that.   So many times I just take off into the desert by myself without any thought of the dangers and then spend months trying to fix the mess I got myself into.   If I had listened to the holy spirit and not headed off into the unknown without protection or a "guide", I could have saved a lot of heartache.  God's plan for us is for good and not disaster, to give us a future and a hope.   Jeremiah 29:11   God's plan isn't to let us get stuck with thorns in a desert, his best plan isn't to let us keep picking festering thorns out of our thumbs and thigh for 6 months.  His best plan is for us to follow Him.  Let Him guide us.  We just have to be willing to stop and listen. 

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