On Faith and Sunflowers
Back in the spring I went to a scrapbooking day with my mother-in-law, and everyone in attendance received a small plastic pot with a packet of seeds and other goodies as our take-home gift. I was really excited because my packet contained sunflower seeds AND I just LOVE sunflowers. They aren’t quite my favorite flower (which is a tie between a rose and hibiscus), but they are pretty darn close. I love that they are warm and friendly flowers, and their unique appearance causes my overactive imagination to run wild. One day when Seth and I were dating five years ago, we were driving to go on a hike and stumbled on a beautiful field of sunflowers. It was like nothing we had ever seen, so we, like countless others, pulled over to the side of the road and just stood admiring the beauty. Here’s a picture that I snapped that day!
We have actually tried to get back to that place several times in the years since because it was so beautiful, but we haven’t been able to find it! It must be in Narnia or something. So, needless to say, I was quite excited to get that sunflower seed packet because I wanted to recreate a small version of the beauty that we had seen. I excitedly showed Seth when I got home from the scrapbooking day, and he agreed that we should plant them as soon as the weather turned warm enough to start planting. When the time came, we prepared our garden and planted the seeds exactly according to the instructions. I saw these birds watching from a distance, but I shrugged it off. This isn’t an Edgar Allen Poe poem, I thought. They aren’t watching us plant our little garden.
But, of all the ridiculous things, they WERE! And as soon as we went inside, they descended on our garden like it was Macy’s at Christmastime! Oops. My dreams of a beautiful sunflower garden were nevermore.
Seth recovered one seed from the packet that we had missed when we were planting, and so we brought it inside and planted it in the little pot, hoping for the best. We carefully tended it and put it on our kitchen windowsill. A couple weeks passed and, just as Seth said it was time to get rid of the seed, a tiny green shoot appeared. It grew and grew and grew each week. Once it was big enough to stand on its own and survive the forces of nature, we moved it outside and planted it in our garden. And then, just last Friday, it bloomed beautifully and vivaciously and well over six feet tall.
Although, taken from the vantage point of my petite, five feet-tall self, anything looks giant. Isn’t it glorious though? It stands alone, tall and proud, guarding the side of our house. Seth and I came back from our morning walk and stood admiring it, and I thought about how much this sunflower represents hope.
We all begin with beautiful dreams and aspirations, things that we want to accomplish, goals we want to achieve…and then, somewhere along the way, we lose heart. The attacks come from without, the attacks come from within, and then–just as we are ready to quit–hope springs forth from that barren soil and blooms into a beautiful flower. Therein lies the mystery of flowers and the miracle of our faith:
It was there the whole time.
Even when we lose sight of it. Even when we lose heart. Even when it’s fragile. At the very moment when all hope seems lost and we are ready to put a period on the sentence of whatever you are going through, God is still working and orchestrating things behind the scenes. And perhaps, the most important part of our story is yet to come.
Now the One who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness. -2 Corinthians 9:10 (HCSB)