Friday, April 30, 2004


Through many dangers, toils and snares...we have already come.
T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far...and Grace will lead us home.

The barn swallows are back on our front porch. It's something we can count on, but not necessarily revel in, sort of like my annual appointment with the urologist. Last year I knocked down the swallow's nest - after they had left for the season - thinking I'd at least make it more difficult for them to set up housekeeping, or perhaps they might choose a spot not directly above our front entryway. No such luck. They have rebuilt, smack dab in the middle of the entrance to our front porch. I know this because they don't have indoor plumbing.

Still I admire these birds. They are small, but they are feisty. Oftentimes I'll see them chasing larger birds away, occasionally they dive-bomb me and squawk when I leave or come home.

Sometimes they tolerate me...but watch my every move.

I believe God shows us in nature that we need an element of defiance in our lives.

For example, there is perhaps no more pernicious plant life in South Texas than the prickly pear cactus, although some might argue the mountain cedar or juniper gives it a run for its money. The prickly pear is almost impossible to eradicate.

I used to walk in a park where groundskeepers had cleared the cacti out of the way by tossing it to the side of the pathway they created. Everywhere it landed it grew, including up in trees. That's persistence.

Our church property is covered in spots with prickly pear. I've had my own battles with it, stories for another day or perhaps someone else's blog, yet I also have marveled at the wonder of this creation of God. The cactus defies heat, cold, drought, uprooting and, take my word for it, flames.

Still, every year around this time, it also defies your expectations.

This hardened, unremitting beast of a plant also produces the beauty of the cactus rose.

So I will study the swallows and observe the prickly pear.

There are lessons to learn from both.

Amy and I have been tried and tested and I know there is likely more to come.

Yet, we will dig deep, stand tall, and we will fight back.

For this is the defiant nature of God, so blessedly bestowed within us too.

The testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. - James 1:3-4