The Desert Cactus

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
There are about three hundred species of cacti in the American deserts, ranging from the tiny pincushion to the mammoth saguaro. All of these were created to fit into a hot and arid environment where rainfall might come only once a year. If cactus plants were unprotected, desert animals would quickly eat them. However, God has covered them with bristles and spines. Many small birds do find refuge in them, building nests among these bristles and spines where they are safe from predators. This is another way in which God has made special provision for some of His creatures.
Throughout southern Arizona and northern Mexico, the huge saguaros are often seen along the highways. Some of them reach 75 feet, and many live two hundred years or more. The important feature about the saguaro is its ability to store water. Instead of taproots going deep into the soil, God provided it with a network of shallow roots only a foot or so beneath the surface. In the larger plants, these roots may stretch out a hundred feet or more. When it rains on the sandy soil, these roots soak up the water and transport it into the plant. The plant stores the water in its many storage cells, making it look very plump and smooth. During a heavy rain, a ton (2,000 pounds) or more of water will be collected into these cells.
The saguaro has no leaves. This helps preserve its water supply, because leaves not only need moisture for themselves, but also give off water—a process known as transpiration. Looking closely at a saguaro, it looks like a coat of wax has been sprayed on it. This glossy, smooth surface is another means of preserving moisture inside.
The strength of the tall saguaro lies in the ribs that run its full length on the outer surface. These give support against the strong desert winds. The ribs are much stronger than the trunk itself, and native Indians often used them for construction material around their homes.
Many birds drill holes into the sides of the trunk and branches, making nests in the soft, fleshy structure. Normally decay would set in at such points, but the Creator has taken care of that too. A layer of scar tissue immediately begins to cover the wound, and in a short time a smooth, waterproof surface has formed around the opening.
Sometimes Christians refer to this world as being a desert place. We must admit that it is an empty, barren place, unless we have Christ in our lives, for only He can provide "living water" (John 4:1010Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (John 4:10)). The Lord Jesus has said, "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst" (John 4:1414But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:14)). He extends a final invitation at the end of the Bible: "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev. 22:1717And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17)). Have you accepted that invitation?