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Listen while you read: "Lo He Comes With Clouds Descending"1 (Lyrics)
My sister, who is in the process of moving, has given me a lovely set of dinnerware china. For years, I have been fond of its elegant design, featuring hand-painted rose blossoms with a twisted briarwood and leaf pattern around the scalloped edges. Then recently, I learned that the name of this beautiful collection is called "Desert Rose". Almost immediately, those two words caught my attention, and I did some research.
I was surprised to discover that desert roses are not really roses at all. In arid regions, powdered gypsum is dissolved in rain or groundwater, and then crystallizes inside sand dunes. The mineral formations then make their way to the surface. The new gypsum crystals look like the petals of a rose. These new formations are sometimes referred to as "rose rocks" — a wonderful illustration of God's power over the forces of nature.
Then, I began to ponder the spiritual significance of the earthly life of the Messiah, who has also been described as a rose and who spent time in the desert after His baptism:
Song of Solomon 2:1-2a – I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys. Like a lily among thorns … (NIV)
Mark 1:9-13 – At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased." At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. (NIV)
At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus is like a lily among thorns, being tested by God. Many times in this life, we may feel like a delicate flower in a dry and thirsty land. Yet, the same Spirit who led Jesus into the desert has promised to lead us to springs of living water, which only the Lord can provide. During times of testing and dryness, let us turn to Him for strength; then Jesus, our Desert Rose, will become for us the rock of our salvation. We can expect to be shaped by God's grace into His perfect design.
Psalm 95:1 – Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. (NIV)
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, refashion our lives and conform us to the image of Your Son, who is the beautiful Rose of Sharon and the lily among thorns. Strengthen us by the power of Your Holy Spirit, and lead us to the springs of water welling up into eternal life. In Jesus' holy name, we pray. Amen.
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