For a few years now, we have planted sunflowers in a long, narrow bed along the driveway. When we first bought our house there were cedar trees planted there, but I really dislike mowing around any type of pine tree, so to the burn pile they went. I can’t really remember anything else in that place other than the cedar trees and sunflowers.
Every spring, as soon as the ground is ready, we plant our sunflowers. We are not real particular about what kinds we get, but we try for several different types. We plant them according to height so that the shortest ones are closest to the street and the tallest ones are farther away as they go up the driveway. We always try to get some of the huge sunflowers and have even gotten some to grow over twelve feet tall. Somewhere there are pictures of three little children hiding among the stalks as the heads of the flowers stretched far above.
Sunflowers of course get their name from the simple fact that they follow the sun. If you were to stand at our kitchen sink and look out the window you would see the sunflower bed. In all the years that I have been watching the sunflowers grow, I have learned a thing or two about them. One of the things I have learned is that they follow the sun even when it is cloudy or rainy. No matter where the sun is they know it. Something else I have observed is even when the plants are very small, before the flower head has formed, the top of the plant begins to follow the sun. Every spring and summer I am in awe of these wonderful plants.
Now, fall is closing quickly. Almost all of the blooms have faded and petals have dropped. The largest of the sunflowers have heads that are so large they can no longer follow the sun because the shear weight of the seeds can not be supported by the stalk. These mammoth flowers hang silently while just a few feet away their smaller cousins hold their seed heads upright as autumn breezes rustle the dying leaves.
The funny thing is . . . now the fun starts. Everyday now we can look out at various times and discover species of birds that we haven’t seen all summer coming to visit our sunflowers. Nuthatches, wrens, chickadees, cardinals, and goldfinches on their annual migratory flight stop in at our patch beside the driveway for their own little bed and breakfast. The squirrels climb the giant sunflowers and hang upside down while trying to get seeds to store for the winter. Ornery blue-jays fly in to drive the squirrels away while chipmunks stand on their hind legs and pull the plants down so they can stuff their little cheeks full in winter preparation. This morning I watched a whole flock of sparrows flit from head to head, eating here, singing over there. They would stop every once in a while and take a quick dust bath under the sunflowers stalks. And then . . . it hit me.
I am reminded every year when I watch the sunflowers as they grow and follow the sun, how they are a perfect example of how I should be. Their heads always on the sun, even when they can’t see it, show me how often I take my eyes off of the Son I should be watching. When my stormy days come, too often I try and part the clouds by myself. I lose my focus, but the sunflowers don’t. I become a me-flower instead of a Son-follower. But today something else became apparent to me. Those little sparrows haven’t been here. They weren’t here in May watching as we tilled the ground and planted the seed. They didn’t nest right next to the flower bed waiting for the day when the seed would be edible. Nowhere is there a calendar where they have today’s date circled scheduling lunch for them from our sunflower bed. And yet, there they are. All along God knew when the sunflowers would die and no longer be able to follow the sun, and all along He knew the very day and time to bring the birds to eat from the sunflowers so they wouldn’t starve.
It had come full circle for me. I need to be like the sunflowers and stay focused on my Creator. He will take care of the rest just like He took care of the sparrows this morning. It is so much easier said then done, but all creation sings His praise and I believe if we stop and listen long enough to the song it sings we will be directed to the Maker. Even in these trying days I need to let go, keep my eyes on Him, and rest in the comfort of knowing that He who keeps the sparrows will keep me and my family. Matthew 6:25-34