"Living in a Cholla"
"Misfortune had made Lily supple instead of hardening her, and a pliable substance is less easy to break than a stiff one."
Would I call the environment I live in a peaceful place where I feel protected?
"It takes patience to appreciate domestic bliss, volatile spirits prefer unhappiness."
"If Thou canst get but thither,
There grows the flower of peace,
The rose that cannot wither,
Thy fortress, and thy ease."
It's called Cylindropuntia Fulgida and if you don't know what this is - - neither did I. I know this plant as Cholla Cactus, a species that is native to the southwestern United States and Northern Mexico.
Growing up on Arizona ranchland, my sister and I called this cactus, "jumping cactus" because if you happened to brush up anywhere near this spiny plant, look out! You were in for quite a painful poke.
The unique thing about Cholla Cactus is that it is almost treelike with multiple little branches coming off a low trunk. The thorny spines which protrude off of these small branches are so dense they often obscure the stems on the plant.
I take time to give you this detailed description because of what I'm about to share with you.
This past week, I was in a parking lot and happened upon a Cholla Cactus someone had planted as a decoration. This was one of the most thorny, dense plants I'd ever seen. As I approached the cactus, it began to move in a wiggling motion. Shaking, as if something were inside the center of the cactus.
Upon closer inspection, sure enough. There buried down deep in the center of the long cactus spines was a nest with a small mother bird sitting on some eggs.
I couldn't believe my eyes because if you had asked me, I would tell you there was no way even one of my fingers, which aren't that large, could fit in between any of the cactus thorns. But somehow, someway, that precious mother bird had a nest in a Cholla.
As I witnessed the scene, which I will tell you utterly transfixed me, I thought, "How appropriate for our lessons on the life of Abigail."
From the beginning of this story in the Bible, it is evident Nabal was not a nice man. In fact, in some Biblical translations he is called "evil." And for certain, he had quite a mouth. Vile and quick-tempered, he readily unleashed any foul thing upon his unsuspecting victims. As the young man who came to Abigail told her, "Nabal railed at David."
The word "railed" specifically means what today, we may call "trash talk." It means to, "condemn or attack in bitter or abusive language." This certainly describes the rantings of Nabal.
Yet even within this harsh setting, in a desert wilderness, just like the little bird who had a safe nest in a prickly Cholla, so when we first meet Abigail, we find she also built a nest of safety within the confines of a Cholla.
Let me be clear. No woman should endure abusive behavior. It is not in God's plan for any of His daughters to be treated in any way but a respectful one. However, even when we as God's girls find ourselves in the middle of a Cholla, surrounded by severe circumstances, we can choose to build a nest of safety that others find protection in, too.
One of the most interesting things about the text today is that the Bible says it was one of Nabal's young workers who came to Abigail for help. This young man, as well as the other workers for Nabal, most likely were on the receiving end of many of his vicious words. Perhaps Abigail herself had been treated to disrespectful rants. But when Nabal went over the top on David, we find it was Abigail whom the workers turned to. Obviously, somewhere along the line someone whispered, "Go to Abigail, she'll know what to do. Go to Abigail, she has built a nest of safety."
We as daughters of God have the blessed opportunity to be nests of protection within a world of Chollas. We may be the ones our family and friends run to because they know that when things are falling apart around them, there's a woman who has made a nest. In spite of the hardship. In spite of the evil man who was her husband, Abigail was a haven for the hurting.
This is what I want to be. That nest that warms and surrounds. The place where others feel safe. And this is exactly where we find Abigail when we meet her. She was a refuge for those who had come to rely on her wisdom and love.
Don't you want to be like Abigail, as well? I know I do. The daughter who could build a nest even in a thorny Cholla.
"Sweet is the hour that brings us home,
Where all will spring to meet us;
Where hands are striving, as we come,
To be the first to greet us."
The Welcome Back
"We thank You, O God for making us Your daughters.
You are there for us when our hearts cry out for
wisdom and our spirits search for comfort.
You weave a web of security from the tangled threads
that invade us when we are vulnerable and have been
stomped on when we are down.
Though winds whistle within and sudden storms
break all around us, gentle is Your peace.
You fill us with peace as You hold us close…
Making a space for us in Your everlasting arms…
You love us within the nest of your protection and care.
Thank You Father!"
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P. S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.