Thursday, March 24, 2011
Of Missiles, Missionaries, Mesquites and Mustard Seeds
I've lived in west Texas for almost five years now. I have come to love the people tremendously. I've learned to treasure the sunsets and the starry nights that remind me of the grandeur of God's creation and the smallness of my place within it. I've even grown accustomed to the low humidity to the point that the air from I-35 east feels as if it's suffocating me. The one thing I have not come to appreciate are the mesquite trees. That is, until today.
Prior to today, I considered mesquites nothing better than weeds, overgrown shrubs that don't really deserved to be called trees. But this morning I headed out to Paint Rock, Texas, and huddled beneath the twisted branches of these stubborn plants and found something I wasn’t expecting . . . a sanctuary. I eavesdropped as eight men and women listened to my dear brother in the faith, Terry Waller, go over the final instructions of how to dig, and teach others to dig, low-cost water wells for the poor. Details. Technicalities. Tips. And then . . . prayer. A prayer for grace and blessing and courage and ultimately God’s kingdom to come here on earth as it is in heaven. The most sacred of prayers right there in a sanctuary of mesquites.
In a word of catastrophes whose costs run into the billions (not to mention the cost in human lives, as well) and of wars where battleships fire off missiles at the price of a million dollars apiece (not to mention the cost in human lives, as well) it’s difficult to imagine that teaching eight missionaries how to dig $100 water wells is going to make much a difference in this rough and tumble world of ours. And yet there beneath those scraggly trees I couldn’t help but be filled with hope remembering Jesus’ words, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches” (Matthew 13:31-32). Personally, I’ve never seen a mustard tree, but my guess is, it’s got nothing on a mesquite, a tree, that despite the odds can grow in the least likely of places. In that way, it’s as beautiful image of the kingdom of God as any other I’ve ever seen.