My breath caught. I stopped and stared at the dead cholla cactus. Nestled close to those wicked spines was a small mammillaria, possibly the mammillaria grahamii. A mammillaria “in the wild,” something I’d never seen before. I couldn’t wait to take pictures and show my family.
Over the next few weeks I kept watch for more mammillaria and soon learned to spot them with more ease. They were usually nestled under a larger cactus and since they aren’t big I had trouble seeing them. But as I practiced, I became more adept, even spotting them under different plants and a few out in the open.
I didn’t get to see them often because I had to walk a long distance to get to the area where they grew. Then one day, as I trekked down a road I had traversed many times, there under a bush was a little mammillaria, one I had walked past many times and never noticed. A couple of weeks later, I spotted one very close to my house. Who knew it was there? Why hadn’t I noticed them before?
I began to ponder this phenomenon, “seeing” the cactus when I hadn’t before. What did it mean that I walked right by them many times without noticing when they are a plant I love? And why was I seeing them now? As I pondered, I realized there were correlations with this mammillaria lesson and my “seeing” Jesus, especially during such a busy time of year.
I’d like to share these in an anagram of the word, HOPE.
H—Hunger: After I spotted that first mammillaria, I had a hunger or a strong desire to see more. I couldn’t wait to look and often thought of them. There is so much busyness during the Christmas season, so much to do. I want to have a hunger, a strong desire, to see Jesus instead of forgetting to watch when I have so much to do. I must be willing to have Him at the forefront of my mind all the time.
O—Open: Be open to seeing. When I first began to search for the mammillaria, I thought they would only be found under the cholla cactus. Then I noticed them under bushes and other cacti, but I still thought they would be in a sheltered area. Next, I noticed a few that were out in the open. Last, my husband pointed out one that was nestled in a rock completely unprotected. Sometimes, I put Jesus in a box by expecting Him to be in certain places and not others. I must learn to be open to finding Him in unusual places. If I want to see Him, I need to be open to seeing Him where He’s at, not just where I expect Him to be.
P—Practice: I had to work at seeing those tiny little cacti. When I found this little mammillaria “forest” I was beyond excited. The tallest one is only about two inches high. They are so tiny and difficult to spot. It took practice. Likewise, seeing Jesus takes work. Not only do I have to hunger for Him, I have to practice looking for Him. He can be seen anywhere at any time, but I have to work to train my eyes to see.
E—Expect: I began to expect to see those cactus on every walk and I wasn’t disappointed. Each time I would spot a new one in a different place. This Christmas I want to expect to see Jesus. Whether I’m opening gifts, cooking a big dinner, holding my breath around the inebriated relative, or relaxing on the couch after a long day, I want to see Jesus in the midst of all the busyness and joy. He probably won’t be the one in the middle of the room wearing the reindeer antlers and the flashing necklace of Christmas lights, but He will be there.
My hope for you this Christmas is that you truly “see” Jesus. The hope you have in Him will bless you this Christmas season and for years to come. Merry Christmas and have a blessed day.