Lithops is a genus of succulent plants in the ice plant family, Aizoaceae. Members of the genus are native to southern Africa. The name is derived from the Ancient Greek words λίθος (lithos), meaning “stone,” and ὄψ (ops), meaning “face,” referring to the stone-like appearance of the plants. They avoid being eaten by blending in with surrounding rocks and are often known as pebble plants or living stones.
I had read about these plants last year, struck by their appearance and ability to bloom. Their rock like resemblence camouflaging their very existence. I was mesmerized. I read articles about them and I tried ordering some seeds. They arrived in a small packet, miniscule. I hesitated to plant them and then I misplaced them.
This week I was at Lowe’s wandering the garden center, immersed in the blooms and smells, imagining the Garden of Eden in all its splendor, when I spied trays of succulents. I maneuvered my cart over to them to examine more closely. Sitting splendidly among the variety were several lithops looking specimens. Gleefully, I purchased two. On the tag, Split Rock. It so happens there are two closely related succulents within the same family but with differing genus. They are also called Mimicry plants because they look like the stones in the area where they live, fooling animals and other predators from chewing into them.
Because of their name, the little plants make me think of the verse comparing us to living stones:
1 Peter 2:4-6
J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
4-6 To change the metaphor, you come to him, as living stones to the immensely valuable living stone (which men rejected but God chose), to be built up into a spiritual House of God, in which you, like holy priests, can offer those spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. There is a passage to this effect in scripture, and it runs like this: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on him will by no means be put to shame’.
Living stones, us, plants.
The latter seemingly lifeless at first glance. But within, the Lithops is creating energy through photosynthesis. The incredible process by which a plant absorbs sunlight and in sequences of chemical reactions grows and lives, off gassing the vital element oxygen. Until one day, a delicate flower emerges from within its stone castle, unfurling to the light.
I ponder this.
And I wonder….is this not a metaphor for the work of His Holy Spirit in my life? Him, absorbed by me at my new birth. Him inculcating my body, my mind, my spirit, my soul with a series of conflagrations resulting in sparks of new birth and life that will benefit myself and those around me.
Is this not what His word teaches? Is this not what I have experienced as He convicts and moves in my thoughts and actions, teaching me right from wrong?
No, He has said time and again, walk this way…not that way. Love your enemy. Forgive seventy times seven. Mercy triumphs over judgement. Obedience is better than sacrifice.
I have seen it, I have lived it.
Blossoms from within my own stone castle as I yield to His way.