I really love sunflowers! One of my childhood memories involves my father planting a field of sunflowers. That year, I must have been around 12 years old, it rained, and it rained good! You see, I’m from an area of Texas that literally hinged on 3 words all my life, IF IT RAINS. There were green blades of grass, the little “buttercup” flowers came up with green leaves, the Mesquite was even green! Daddy knew the birds would fly and we’d have a good hunting season, he also knew I loved flowers, so he killed two birds with one stone and planted an entire field of sunflowers. I loved riding out with daddy in his truck to see them grow, we’d go as often as possible and I loved how the “head” of the sunflower would “wake-up” in the mornings and follow the sun and then “bow it’s sleepy head” in the evening. Many evenings those sunflowers would shelter a deer family. It was a wonderful time, filled with life and joy all around. When the sunflowers were fully grown I remember standing under them and feeling as though I was actually “Alice” in wonderland. I’ve tried several times to grow sunflowers here in Florida and I have yet to be successful.
This year we decided to have our towering pine tree removed. It was such a beautiful tree, I really enjoyed it the three years we had it but, it was located in a bad spot and with the hurricanes here, we were asking for trouble; so, I reluctantly agreed, it was time to cut it down. I encouraged myself by making plans to save for a new tree, perhaps a fruit tree like, lemon, lime, or tangerine and tried not to be sad about the pine. With winter approaching, I didn’t want to buy anything right away, I felt a good rest would do the lawn some good so, I tabled a tree purchase for now.
Fall is may favorite time of the year but, it does get busy so quickly, I often feel I could loose my head if it weren’t attached. One day, I was looking out of our dinning window and I noticed something growing near the area our pine stump had been ground down. I went outside for a closer look and I thought, perhaps, just maybe, it was a sunflower. (I’m not exactly a botanist okay.) Allowing the plant to grow proved that it was indeed a sunflower after all. I couldn’t believe it, I finally had my very own sunflower and I didn’t even know how it had gotten there!
All this time, I had tried to follow the instructions given to me on the packages of seeds I’d bought and I waited until March to plant my sunflowers. A precious friend of mine now passed on told me that squirrels were more than likely eating the seeds I buried year after year. Hazel, living well up to 89, had been a very experienced gardener over the years and I enjoyed her hydrangeas and gardenias every year. I knew she was a gardening authority worth trusting so I had nearly resolved to just give up and then this wonderful sunflower popped up just after my first Thanksgiving since she had passed.
I’m sure that the equipment used to cut our tree down had a sunflower seed on it. The tree was removed in the middle of September and we have had an unusually warm winter with a few odd cold days thrown in. Even the Walton Outdoors website (www.waltonoutdoors.com) says that sunflowers should be planted no later than the end of August for a fall crop so, I was very happily surprised to see this beauty.
What can we learn from this bold sunflower that choose to bless me this fall? Well, I believe we can learn several things from nature if we will listen and pay attention. After all, hasn’t God told us to observe his creation when he said, “go to the ant thou sluggard Prov. 6:6” and “be instant in season and out of season 2 Tim. 4:2.”
One of the first things we can see from this little sunflower is, the ground was prepared. The sunflower would have had a difficult time growing directly under the old pine tree. The needles would have blocked the sunshine and the roots of the pine were well established ensuring the pine would easily sip away the water and nutrients. When we had the stump ground up the roots of the pine no longer drank all the water. The fine mulching left behind aided the sunflower seed during germination and the direct sun warmed the seed and called it to grow. Is there a giant pine tree in the fertile field of your heart preventing the seeds God’s planting in your heart from sprouting? Luke 6:41b “but perceivest not the beam that is thine own eye?” Perhaps you even like your pine tree but, God’s been trying to show you, it’s just time to have it removed, it’s in a dangerous place in your life and it’s just time to cut it down with the Word of God and grind the pulp for a new seed God is ready for you to have. Perhaps this seed is something you’ve been trying to do for awhile and you just keep failing because this towering pine sips all your energy, and sheds pine needles down on you. The pine tree doesn’t even have to be a “sin” but rather it could simply just be a “great waster Prov. 18:9.” Once this pine tree has fallen and the stump is ground, not only will God have a clearing for His seed to go, you will have a clear view straight to the Son of God, His love will warm your heart as you begin the next phase of your life.
Next we can see the flower respond to the sun in it’s newly prepared place. The seed needs to be nurtured out of it’s shell so to speak and the sun and earth help it to germinate, first the root, and then the stem begins to pop up. When we begin a new phase in our lives, the Lord bathes us in beams from His Son as we read in the word, he waters the seeds he has planted as well. Slowly, we begin to develop a special strength for this new phase as the Lord himself nurtures our heart and soul. As we yield our lives to the Holy Spirit, our seed becomes a baby plant unfurling itself before the Lord as he coaxes us out of our tight shell and into His light.
Now, the sunflower is fully grown and it’s bright petals reflect the glory of the Lord himself who gave the little flower not only it’s life, but it’s full color to beam outward for others to gaze upon as well. This tiny seed black seed only about a half a centimeter in size or so is now bright yellow and well over a foot tall. The black of the seed can represent ashes and the new bright yellow plant can represent beauty; sunflowers are beautiful. Jesus also takes our ashes and gives us beauty in return. Although bringing in our ashes can be a painful time, we have hope in the promise Jesus has given, to give us beauty in their place, once we have handed Him our ashes. (Isiah 61:3) The roots are strong and sturdy, supporting the plant in the wind, rain, and cold; the plant follows the sun with it’s “head” and points to those looking on, “look up there, there is the sun.” We too root in the word of God so that we are not blown around by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14), and reflect the direction of the Son on our faces as we follow his will.
Finally, the sunflower didn’t argue about where it was planted, it just received the spot it was given. Nor did the sunflower dispute the well known fact that it’s “too late” to plant this year’s sunflowers. This sunflower was planted in the “last hour” (Matthew 20:12) of 2017 and since the Lord knew it would be a warmer winter, the sunflower bloomed beautifully! Although there may have been a better time in the farmer’s almanac for a sunflower or even a better place, nothing can take away the fact that THIS sunflower was a blessing for me to gaze upon while sitting in my dinning room. Often it is easy to read about Esther the queen and think, what a time to live in! Or perhaps you’d like to meet Mary the mother of Jesus and ask her what it was like to be his mother? (I’m sure it wasn’t an easy task!) Don’t get stuck wondering why you are in “this place” or why you are in “this season.” Your time is now, God is here now just like he was before, he still asks you to bloom NOW despite the conditions you are in and show the world, the direction of the Son. There are so many barren fields; dry, cold, empty just waiting for you to plant your flower there and point the way to the Son. Don’t let the devil discourage you by telling you it is just not the season for flowers; you’re not too old or too late, you’re here to please the Lord and point others to Him, so just Bloom Baby Bloom!
Isaiah 61:11 For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
Until next time,
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