A tree named Joshua

(Photo by Petre Nazar)

Many of you know that I am a recent immigrant to a strange and curious land called “California”. I live in what the natives refer to as the high desert. This desert is “high” because it lies at the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains. It is home to many unique and diverse plants and animals. I have found one of the most interesting of these to be the Joshua tree.

As my intrigue led me to research these trees, I found they aren’t really trees at all. The Joshua tree is a very large yucca plant. In fact, it is the largest Yucca species in the world.

Early Mormon settlers to the area named them after the Old Testament prophet Joshua. It is said that the plant’s limbs reminded them of Joshua’s outstretched arms as he plead with God to lead the Israelites out of the wilderness. Similarly, the Joshua trees and their limbs led these early pioneers through the desert.

It has been suggested that Joshua trees have existed for more than 2.5 million years. They regularly live between 150 and 500 years but have been known to live as long as 1000 years.

They have an extensive root system. A common plant can have hundreds of roots. These roots can grow several inches wide and up to 10 to 30 feet deep. These deep roots empower them to stand tall and strong in spite of the harsh desert conditions. Year after year, they stand undaunted and unmoved by the extreme heat, freezing cold and fierce winds.

After learning more about these Joshua trees, I am even more intrigued by them. Now when I see them, I remember to look continually to God for direction in the wildernesses of this life. I am reminded that if my faith is strong and deeply rooted like the Joshua tree, I will be able to stand strong and tall no matter how harsh the conditions of this world.

I am grateful for the Joshua Tree and its example. I am grateful for its reminder that no matter how chaotic and turbulent, no matter how barren and desolate the wilderness, I can continue to stand faithful, undaunted and unmoved.

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