Christ, Cactus, and College Football

I promised a football post for The Salty Sirs! Here ya go! Just trust me. This works.

The rest of the world may be unconcerned but there is a prickly situation in Texas, between TCU and Texas Tech.

This summer, the Texas Tech Matador Club pledged $25,000 contracts to 100 TTU football players. To which a TCU Recruiting Coordinator tweeted, “The reality is that the extra 2k is gonna be a concrete ceiling for most players in scarce markets that oversaturated with 85 scholarship players attempting to ‘build their brand’ in a desert…” Welp. That’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Give it a minute. (For you city folks, that’s funny because not only are we the “nothing growing out there” people, but we are also in actuality the “growing all y’alls clothes” people.) #cottonfieldsforever

I don’t know enough about NIL deals or recruiting football players to say too much about that. TCU may be entirely right, though I’m not sure why they are giving an opinion about another school’s recruiting choices, other than to be a “thorn” in one’s side. It seemed to work out okay for Patrick Mahomes, who said as much on Twitter in response. What I do know is that when I went home to Lubbock, a couple weeks ago, for a football game–Tech won the Cactus Bowl. File this away sports fans, the next time you want to burn somebody, don’t compare them to a complex, enduring, marvel of nature.

Not only did the dig serve as motivation, but it also spurred a noticeable boost in the economy and morale of the whole city. Cactus everywhere! On hats, on t-shirts, stamped on faces of babes and babies, flying on tailgate flags in the parking lot, bank windows… As a desert dweller myself, someone should have told the city folks (where I’ve also lived and called home), me and my neighbor may have nothing in common, but if we both dislike you–we are best friends. We are chips and salsa people senor frog, but a chip on the shoulder is just as good and just as easy to be shared by all! #wreckem #pricklypearsonalfoul


Now, who knows how long the good will will last, the on-field determination held that one Saturday and not the next, so we will just have to see. But, I’d bet money we see cactus as a symbol of pride in Lubbock until my children become Red Raiders. Why? Because we know it’s true. If you’ve lived in West Texas, you can’t deny– we do live in the desert wild and their ain’t much out here except lovely people and lots of sky. This IS hard country we are trying to plow, make a living on, and yes, make a name in. Others noticing it, makes us tougher not weaker, prouder not more embarrassed.

How’s that mindset working out here in no man’s land? Well… are you reading this article? Am I writing this article to expand the audience for my book coming out in the fall? Yep. Did I need to be in Austin, Ft Worth, or New York to have this opportunity? Nope. A whole world of insane possibility has been brought to my treeless, dusty, desert doorstep. But it had nothing to do with branding to catch the eye of the public, it had to do with obeying to please the heart of the Father.


Jesus can be trusted. He is not Savior for just the elite or well-positioned. He is the Savior and Friend to the nobodies in the middles of nowheres. Taking weakness, inadequacy, and shame and redeeming it for good and glory? That’s kind of His thing, He was doing that long before there was ever a player on the field, a cactus in the desert, or a thief on a cross. He takes all that the world sees as inferior and scorned and He uses it ON PURPOSE, so that none can boast in it or DENY HIS MIGHTY HAND ON IT.


Anybody can get a drink at the water’s edge. Easy peasy. But can you endure in the heat, keep the faith when no rain falls from the sky and no water springs from the well? I can. Have you learned to store hope in jars… and ration it for yourself and supply it generously for others? I have. And not because I have any great knowledge or skill, but because I have a Great God and I KNOW IT. I got nothing out here in nowhere… EXCEPT a God who supplies every need, a God who is a Way Maker of streams in barren lands and shelters in the wilderness. I have shade but no trees, I am well fed but have no fruit, I have fellowship even when I have no friend and great worth even when I do not win.


He is the fount of every blessing and He does not run dry. That’s pretty important to know and believe in lands that are known for being dry and thirsty. I could go on and on, but I will save it for the book. There are several chapters that touch on this subject, one in particular, Thieving Heathens and the Derelict Disciplemaker. I won’t spoil it but it’s from the Bible and is about Eli a faithful priest at the temple and a crummy dad at home, and his sons… who are so terrible the Lord strikes them dead on the same day. It’s a feel-good story. Or better said, a “do-good” story. At some point our care for the young has to be centered on what is best for them–and not what is easiest for ourselves. I’m sure the recruiter at TCU is lovely and was simply speaking truth, but the best advice to any young person, of any skill level… is PRAY and OBEY. Inquire of the Lord, ask Him for direction, ask for peace so evident you can walk in and towards it. Then follow quickly! In fact, run. Run towards wherever He leads you and when you arrive there, rest in knowing He can provide anything, to anyone, anywhere. It doesn’t matter if it looks like a damned desert to the world, if it looks like obedience to Him. There is no better place to be than in the center of His will.

A few years ago, we were “transplanted,” or returned against our will, to the desert. Upon arrival, I desperately wanted to understand God’s goodness here, and I desperately wanted to know how to survive the rough terrain. I took my cues from nature, I studied and observed the cactus.

Did you know that cactus have extraordinary self-control? They absorb, reserve, and conserve every possible amount of water.

Cacti do not waste their time or energy on fruitless endeavors… if it’s too hot, they delay photosynthesis for the cooler night. They do not fear dormant seasons or the unmet expectations of others. I’ll say that again–we DO NOT FEAR the unmet expectations of others.

Cacti know that even the most painful parts (spines or thorns) are useful and for their good. Spines protect, shade, collect water and act as seed to scatter. Hmmm… pain is helpful? Indeed it is.

Cacti are self-sustaining and don’t need to be fussed over or adored to grow, plus they endure for anywhere from 10-200 years.

Cacti not only survive in harsh environments, they thrive. Imagine that, all the things that make others wilt and wane, these sturdy stiffs manage to want and welcome. If only there was some life application to be found here… like… make it via branding and self-promotion if you must… or just be tougher than the rest.

Lastly, did you know the best way to propagate or multiply a cactus is to cut it off at the strongest part and put the severed part in dry darkness for a season of rest and waiting? As a severed limb, I can attest–this part is painful but necessary. Things happen in the dark, sleeping things wake, dead things come to life, and become ready and anxious to grow again.

Call me a cactus any time. Mock my dry, barren land any time. The stuff that kills lesser things, makes me lovely, makes me bloom even.

I wrote this the day we landed in the wild and have prayed it every day since.

Almighty God, my Waymaker. I need you to make a way for me now. Make my paths straight, make my desire for you alone. In dry seasons, I will thirst for none but You. In weary heat, I know You are my welcomed shade. Give me deep roots and long reaches, that I may last in Your Everlasting. Precious Lord, let me faint not, fail not, wilt not, and want not. Will my heart to thrive for Your Name’s sake alone. Make my bold beautiful, make my fierce fruitful, make lovely all that I lack– that the world would look on my desert and marvel that I dare to bloom. Let them underestimate and overlook me, but see my Jesus in all I say and do.

Shalom Y’all.


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