Death Valley is home to some of the most beautiful wildflower displays. The lifespan of the wildflowers that are found in Death Valley are very short lived, and only bloom when enough rain has fallen. The valley remains dormant for much of the year, and experiences periods of bloom throughout the spring and early summer. There are some years when there are not many wildflowers that bloom, and other years where the wildflowers seem to take over Death Valley, and bring many different forms of life to the valley to feed and pollinate the wildflowers, before they go vacant. It takes just the right amount of rain through the entire season, to yield the abundance of the wildflowers.
Why am I telling you about the flowers that bloom in the Death Valley? Because I think that this is a beautiful illustration of how our lives can be at times.
I work in a field, that is very difficult to work in. I work with families, parents, and children, in some of the worst circumstances of their lives. A family member may have abused them. Or a parent has relapsed with their drug addiction. Or a child was abandoned by their parents, left to fend for themselves. Or a mother has put her children in a dangerous situation by choosing to remain in a relationship where there have been reports of violence happening in the home between the children. As an outsider looking in, people question why our system attempts to provide services to parents and help them work on getting clean, leaving the partner whom has been abusing them, or providing counseling to both the parent and the child to strengthen the relationship in the hopes that the abuse and neglect will stop.
There are many days where I look at the lives of the families that I serve, and the situation appears to be hopeless. How could a parent every turn their life around? They’ve lived like this for so many years, isn’t it a little too late? If they cared enough about their children, then why are they so concerned about getting their life together now, after their children are no longer with them? To be honest, sometimes, I don’t know where to start, and I feel so ill-equipped to handle the emotions and situations that come across my desk.
But then I think about the desert. And how lifeless it can appear when you are looking out at the expanse. Is there a sign of life when you are looking out at the desert that looks like this?
That photo looks pretty depressing, right? There is no hope, no sign of life anywhere. I think that’s maybe how the Israelites felt at the end of the Old Testament. I found it quite interesting in the sermon in church on Sunday that Vicar Haack preached, that the very last word of the Old Testament was curse. And that’s what they were dealing with, a curse. That curse, is sin, and it’s a curse that is still alive and well and at work in all of our lives.
How could anyone, ever, turn their life around? We are all living in the curse of sin, and there is nothing that we can do about this curse on our own. However, fortunately, God had an answer for this curse. And the answer arrives very early on in the New Testament.
Looking at the parents and families and children that I work with on a daily basis. They are dealing with this same curse that I am, it just presents itself and looks different in their life. The sins that they struggle with may look different than the ones that I deal with, but at the end of the day, they are still sins, and they, and myself, all face the same consequence for this curse of sin, which is death.
BUT…because God so Loved the world, that he sent Jesus to be the answer to our curse, we are able to have life. When the rain falls in Death Valley, it goes from looking like the above picture, to this picture here:
WOW! That photo and the beauty that is displayed is absolutely amazing!
SO…I remember this when I am working with the families and children and parents that I do. God sent his son for all, and there is hope for everyone. It’s because of this, that I have chosen to work in the field that I do. Because I truly believe that everyone, EVERYONE, deserves a second chance (or third, or twenty chances!) As long as we get to take another breath, we have another chance to turn our life around, and we are not defined by the sum total of all the things that we have done in our lives! There is hope for us all! Even those that seem to have the least hope, or the driest, deadest desert. All it takes is a little rain to create some beautiful!
I hope that you will remember these photos the next time that you either you personally feel as though you have no hope, or that those that are coming into your life, for whatever reason, have no hope. Remember that they are just like you are, cursed by sin, and that the opportunity for grace and hope are the same that they are for you, and you share that with them!
Taking this message to the hopeless and those in the desert,