Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sunflower Stance: Part Two

Hello, Sunshine!

~ The very word, "Sunflower" comes from the scientific name, Helianthus.  Helios means sun and Anthos means flower.  The French word for Sunflower is tournesol, which literally means to "turn with the sun."  From our previous study, it's easy to see how the sunflower lives up to its name. Its actions speak for itself.  Likewise, look at the word "Christian."  It is derived from the greek word Christ.  Shouldn't our actions exemplify those of our Savior?  I believe that the world should be able to look at a person and tell whether or not he or she is a Christian.  So many times, though, Christians compromise their name by getting caught up in the ways of the world. Their thoughts are often, Well, everyone else is doing it. It's no big deal.  These souls have forgotten who they are, or perhaps they never even quite knew who they were. Jesus spoke to the Father regarding believers before entering the garden in John 17:16.  "They are not of the world (worldly, belonging to the world), [just] as I am not of the world." (Amplified)  Friends, let us remember we are not of this world. Let us always keep at the forefront of our minds who the head of our family is, for we have a mighty heavenly Father.  Let us take the Romans 12:1-2 verses seriously and represent Him well.  "So here's what I want you to do, God helping you:  Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking around life--and place it before God as an offering.  Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him.  Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.  Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out.  Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it.  Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."  (The Message) ~  


Poem to a Sunflower

I see you there in glory shining bright,
Following the sun and its path of light.

Standing tall above all others in the field,
You grow, conquer, and do not yield.

The little birds take great delight
In playing round you, from day to night.

With your petals of yellow and leaves of green
How very easily you are seen.

But there is more to you than first sight,
More than beauty and grander to delight.

Every beautiful aspect that appears,
Gives praise to the Father dear.

He made you a part of creation,
And you praise Him in glorious celebration!

The beauty that within you is expressed,
Gives testimony to his greatness.

Sunflower, how I long to be like you!
Glorifying God in all I do.

Following the Son and His path of light,
To worship Him in His glory shining bright.

I can learn from you, my friend,
With every breath, praise to God, I might send.

With all of His creation telling the story,
Might I, with you, proclaim His glory.

~By Katherine R. Lane (April 19, 1995)~

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sunflower Stance

Sunflower in my backyard :)
~ Yesterday was a bad day. Friends, I have noticed since I started working on this blog I have been stricken twice with a terrible feeling of depression. This is something, with which I would greatly appreciate prayer. I've been fortunate to only have experienced this depleting feeling a few times in my life. Don't get me wrong...I've certainly experienced hardships and feelings of sadness before. I'm just usually able to handle negative situations with a positive outlook. Generally, I am a joyful optimistic person. However, as some of you may know more than I, depression is more than sadness. In fact, it feels so oppressing that there might as well be an elephant sitting on one's chest. It can be overwhelming, accompanied by panic attacks. It is also very debilitating, making it difficult--if not impossible-- to accomplish anything. What brought on this feeling, you may ask. Quite simply, distractions and lies from the devil. I had become distracted by worldly issues--the things I could only see with my physical eyes. I forgot my faith, and soon--like Eve-- came into agreement with the lies that were being thrown at me like darts.

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!

As I pondered the information above, I realized the actions of a sunflower portray a great picture of how we are meant to position ourselves before God. Just as the sunflower grows the best when it can "see" the sun, how much taller spiritually do we stand when we are facing God and His Son? What significance does our life really take on when we set our face like flint on God and are unhindered by distractions? I believe God is looking for a people that are really serious about facing Him. When we are facing God, or setting our minds and hearts on the things He sets His mind and heart on, I think we will be amazed at the beauty our life begins to take on. ~


"Keep your face to the sunshine
and you will not see the shadows."  ~Helen Keller