Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Phototropism - Lessons from Sunflowers

Sunflowers make me feel good. Their oversized faces seem to dare laugingly and say, "Oh, go ahead - smile with me!"
The sunflower (photo compliments of follows the light during it's blooming season - something called phototropism. From morning till night, that big, happy face turns with the daily walk of the sun, soaking up its nourishment, staying in the path of its rays. No wonder it has so many uses - oil for cooking, fodder for livestock, snacks for my golf bag, seeds for my cardinals, and bouquets for my table.

Maybe sunflowers are so productive because they stay in close contact with their source of nourishment, never turning their back on the sun - the source that provides the energy to be changed into so many useful products. Plants do not have a choice in how they respond to light. They simply grow toward the light. Their genetic makeup responds in accordance to their purpose in creation. A year ago I wrote about the changing colors of the leaves in the fall. We watched them and admired them, never pausing to think too much about the process, realizing that the leaves changing colors, or the sunflowers turning to the light, are in total obedience to their creator. They just do what they were intended to do.

Yesterday, a workman in my home was struggling to fix a broken floor sander. As it became evening he continued to work on repairing it, telling me that he simply prayed all through the day, waiting for God to guide and help him. I told him that I had been trying to do the same thing. A few minutes later his help showed up and replaced the broken machine. He smiled at me and said, "See, prayer works." I thought how much his example is like the sunflower. He was smiling even though his machine was broken. He kept at his job. Oh, he continued to work to fix it and call for help, but in the meantime he prayed. And in the praying while he worked, I imagined it to be a little like looking for God's light, following his promises, trusting in His faithfulness, resting in His assurances.

I wish my obedience was as simple as the sunflower - smooth and effortless,the turning of my face to God's light each day. Somedays are easier than others. God's light, once it has shown brightly, draws me back and each time is a little easier - because that is where I can find fulfillment and see purpose in my life. That is where I can accept the sorrowful times and celebrate on the sunflower days. It is where I find meaning and hope. It is where I feel energized and complete. It is where I meet with God himself and it is heaven on earth - much like the sunflower, saying "smile with me".

And so next week, I will step out in obedience and offer a seminar entitled "When God Comes Near - Waiting in the Miracle of His Presence". It will be held Sunday, October 11th, in the Hospitality Suite of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Atlanta from 5-7p.m. To register, call 404-240-8228. I will talk about God's Love, God's Provision, and God's Purpose as I share my story of faith during a time when even sunflowers could not make me smile. But that time is past and I am trying to be useful as I move forward. If you are in the Atlanta area, it would be an honor to have you join me.