|Sunflower in my backyard :)|
I had been studying the sunflower and really wanted to share in my blog what I had learned. Unfortunately, the depression was inhibiting my ability to write. Instead of sitting in front of my computer, there I was--laying in bed--feeling quite defeated. The truth is that I was in a position of defeat. I had prayed, but my prayer was symbolic of a newborn Christian prayer. It went something like, "Oh God, please take this depression away!" Why do I say this was a newborn Christian response? Let me explain... Newborns can not do much for themselves. They rely on their caregivers to do everything for them--feeding, changing their diapers, cleaning up their messes, etc. However, as a child grows, they begin to model what their caregivers teach them. Soon, they are able to feed themselves, go to the bathroom independently, and clean up after themselves quite well. Wouldn't it be the same for Christians? Wouldn't it make sense for God to spoon feed us everything we need when we are young believers, but to train us to take independent steps forward toward Him as we grow stronger in our faith? I began to realize that my crying out to God to take the depression away was much like a baby that cries out when they have wet themselves and are in need of a diaper changing...a very humbling revelation, may I add. While the kind of prayer I prayed works very well when we are nonbelievers, or infant Christians, I believe God eventually grows us up to a place where our prayers and actions become more mature than when we first began to learn how to walk with God. Perhaps I should have prayed for God to help me stand and grow through the situation. This response would have been much more mature than laying in bed, simply asking for Him to make the problem disappear. It would require a different stance...much like a "sunflower stance."
Let's look at the sunflower's response to the sun: While all flowers need sunlight to grow, not every flower follows the sun. Only heliotrophic flowers move their plant parts toward the sun throughout the day, taking in as much light as they can. This daily motion of plants was first described by Leonardo da Vinci, and is now more often called phototropism. Sunflowers are heliotrophic, which is why people report seeing a change in the growing young flower's orientation from east to west during the day. How does this happen? Well, sunflowers produce a plant hormone called auxin, or indoleacetic acid. The auxin serves as a growth regulator. At night the auxin can be found throughout the plant. However, in the morning it migrates to the shaded west side of the sunflower, which causes the stem to stretch gradually to the east. In the afternoon and as the sun is moving, the auxin moves. This causes the stem to stretch toward the west, making it appear as though the sunflower is "following the sun." As the sun sets, the sunflower resets itself back to facing the east. When a sunflower is mature and the stem becomes woody, it stops moving with the sun. This is why most blooming sunflowers can be seen only facing their sunny faces eastward. Isn't it interesting that the sunflower always goes back to facing toward the east? Didn't Jesus appear to the wise men after they followed a star which first rose in the east? "...Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child." (Matthew 2:9, The Message) I'm also reminded of the song, (East to West) by (Casting Crowns) (2007). If you get a chance, spend some time listening to the lyrics of that song. You are sure to be encouraged!
"Keep your face to the sunshine
and you will not see the shadows." ~Helen Keller