Joshua Tree
October 3, 2020, 12:00 PM

On a recent trip out west to see my brother in California a plan was created. The plan included what we would see, where we would go, and how we would avoid people due to covid-19. One of my great plans was instead of going to Death Valley we would go to the southern part of the Mojave Desert. So our desert day included driving on old Route 66. The Mojave Desert is the neighbor of the Joshua Tree National Park. I was so excited to get to see a Joshua Tree. The first day in the desert was hot and no Joshua Tree sightings. The second day in the desert we visited a volcanic crater, and saw a salt river, no Joshua Tree. We had a good time in the desert but I was sad we had not seen a Joshua Tree. Thinking we did not know what we were looking for we looked them up online, studied the pictures,and still could not find one. 

 

Upon leaving the desert on the third day we were driving and would be at my brother’s house in the afternoon so I settled in to work and playing with the kids in the car when I was not driving. As I was completing some church work on my I-pad, I looked up, and screamed.  I scared everyone in the car, they thought we had hit something. I yelled “it’s a Joshua Tree, stop, I need a picture. Is that not the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?” My traveling companions were a little confused, as they saw a tear come down my face because of this tree. They asked, “what is the big deal, it’s a tree?”. The kids answered the question by saying “O, named after so guy in the Bible is that it mom?” 

 

They were half right. Yes the Joshua Tree is named about a person in the Bible. Joshua was Moses’s successor, and he lifted up his arms praying for direction (Joshua 8:18). Now the direction of Joshua was a battle and he did not let his hands down that were holding a spear until all the inhabitants of the enemy were destroyed. Knowing this and knowing that Moses had helpers to keep his hands raised while Joshua lead the battle. At the moment I saw the Joshua tree I did not think about the battle and killings in the biblical text. I was thinking about how desperate, faithful, and prayerful Joshua must have been to be in a battle and choose to raise his hands to God to ask for direction as opposed to fighting his way through with his spear. The thought of hands raised in pleading with the Lord for victory and direction. That is what caused the tear in my eyes. The exhaustion of the pandemic and all the changes that I had been carrying needed to be lifted up to the Lord God Almighty. And through this glorious tree he created I was reminded of my need to do so. I thought when was the last time I gave all the mess, and ugliness, and battles of this day and age to the Lord? May you raise your hands with me as we seek God during these difficult times. Let us not grow weary but seek the Lord to renew our strength in whatever we are facing. “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” (Isaiah 40:31)