God’s promises are like Cactus

Before I married my husband, I knew little about plants. I have a black thumb and the only thing I am good at is drowning my plants. I couldn’t keep anything alive but then I met my husband who is a plant connoisseur. He loves rare and difficult-to-maintain plant life. His ‘bachelor pad’ came equipped with a room just for plants. Picture a professor in an old movie trimming his priceless roses with pruning spears while talking about a complex topic, yup that’s him.

I became guilty of plant love by association. I’m still not great at maintaining plant life, but I enjoy watching him work. One thing we love to do together is plant seeds. It’s a simple task (that I can’t mess up) but it’s exciting to dream about what will sprout in a few months or in the case of cactus… a few years.

Cacti are interesting little fellas. A little pack of seeds can grow cactus that are several feet tall, if you’re patient. But I am not patient.

Cacti take years to develop, and there are a million and one chances for it to die. You can plant fifty seeds and only end up with one healthy one, which then you must wait years for it to grow.

This little pot here is from a batch I and my husband planted two years ago. You can barely see them, but they are as old as a toddler. Despite the long wait, they haven’t grown much, which can be discouraging. But if we look at it from a scientific angle, cacti, once they reach a certain maturity, can survive in the harsh climate of the barren desert. Rain may only come once a year or even less if there is a drought. But it is the slow-growing, long-suffering nature of the cactus that makes it strong.

God’s promises are like a cactus in a way. I could have stood next to this clay pot staring and wondering when I would see that first dot of the soft green flesh sprouting spikes. It would have been like watching paint dry.

Baby cactus do better if you leave them alone. But when it comes to God’s promises, I want to keep checking in and make sure God’s doing exactly what I want. Sometimes He moves so slowly that I wonder if He is even working on my request. Does He even care? He doesn’t seem to be in a big hurry.

But like the cactus He works slowly and deliberately. Weeks, months, and years pass by and I want to pull my hair out in frustration, but God is working on my life in His timing. He will not rush something beautiful. He is going to take His time and cultivate the best for me because I am His child and He loves me. My only job is to be still and wait.

I don’t like that ‘be still’ part and I like the waiting part even less. But if I’m constantly disturbing the soil and poking at the seeds asking “Hello? Are you doing anything yet?” I’m not helping at all. I’m making it worse, much like Abraham did when he grew impatient for God’s promised child. With God’s promises, I need to listen and work when it’s planting time, but during growing time, I need to drop the shovel and back away.

This cactus has been in my husband’s care for twenty-plus years. It is almost two feet tall. If you went to the store and tried to buy one this size, you would have to shell out a lot of cash, but because my husband was patent and understood the plant’s needs, he helped it thrive.

When I look at these plants and think of Abraham, I wonder would his promise have come sooner if he hadn’t tried to make it happen himself? Would his life have been more peaceful without the baggage of mistakes?

When it comes to God’s will and His promises, it may seem like He has forgotten us. Life moves at a glacier pace when you’re waiting. If we can be patient and allow God to nurture us, He can grow something amazing in our lives. All we must do is step back and let Him tend to His plants.


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