Sunshine and Sunflowers: Three Lessons from My First Attempt at Gardening

I got out of my car and went into the backyard to do my daily check on my new sunflowers. Even though I’d just spent six hours at day camp, I immediately dropped my things on the grass and started pulling up weeds. The stress of the day melted away as I reveled in the outdoor work.

Suddenly, it didn’t matter that our camp room had flooded that morning, forcing our entire group to carry wet belongings up four flights of stairs to the sweltering attic. It didn’t matter that it was over ninety degrees and we hadn’t had air conditioning. It didn’t matter that I was short-staffed that week. All the craziness faded into the blissful pleasure of a bright, sunny summer afternoon. ..

The tangy smell of the marigolds I’d planted around the edges of the flower bed.

The soothing warmth of the sun on my back.

The peace of my surroundings after the hyper chatter of a sold-out day camp.

Even the giant, squishy earthworm that sent me scrambling for a blanket to sit on.  Ok, maybe not that, but I wanted you to get the whole picture.

This little garden had become my new happy place.

Except for forced weeding at the behest of my mother, I’d never participated in any type of gardening. But I inadvertently ended up with three sad little sunflower plants and decided that this could be my new summer adventure. A tame adventure to be sure, but I’m always open to trying new things.

Those sad little sunflower plants didn’t last long, but I had provided them with friends in the shape of GIANT sunflower seeds (go big, right?). To everyone’s surprise, the seedlings did great! They spent the next four months grooooowing, until they towered over our heads. I loved my GIANT sunflowers.

I’ve always admired sunflowers. They’re big, bright, and unfailingly cheerful.  I also feel like we can learn a lot from them. Gardening provides you with time to think and ponder, and I spent a great deal of time dwelling on the lessons I, as a single Christian woman, could learn from sunflowers.

  1. Follow the Son

Young sunflowers trace the path of the sun with their faces. I looked it up and learned that this is called heliotropism (do you feel smarter now?). It actually has to do with how the stem develops. What a great visual for Christians!

As single women, we don’t have to look anxiously around us and play the comparison game. We don’t have to fret or worry about the unique challenges of our single lives. Instead, we can keep our eyes fixed firmly upward on Jesus Christ- the only Son truly worth looking at. God promises to meet our needs and not withhold any good thing from us. And we can confidently follow Him in our daily lives

2. Anticipate the Son

Not only should we keep our eyes on Jesus and the truth of His word, sunflowers can also teach us to anticipate Him. I read that sunflowers flip around to face east again at night. Even though it’s dark, they are anticipating the dawn. They can’t see or feel it, but they know the sun is going to come again and they stand ready for it. 

I love that.

To anticipate means to “prepare to take action because of your expectations.” It’s easy to feel discouraged about life situations we may not want, but we don’t have to get burdened down by them. Instead, we can prepare ourselves by diving into the truth of God’s Word.  We can ready ourselves to take action because we expect, we know, that God is working in our lives and we need to be ready to serve Him. Our singleness is just as great a gift as marriage is, and we can stand in expectation, knowing that He will accomplish great things through us.

3. Point others to the Son

Finally, sunflowers can teach us of the importance of pointing people to Christ. As I look at my sunflowers, stretching up toward the sky, I can’t help but think of heaven. It’s almost like the flowers are shouting and saying, “Look, look at what’s up there!”

I want my life to do the same thing. My deep wish is that my words and actions will cause others to look toward heaven and think about the wonders that wait there and the Son of God that loves them more than anything. I pray that my life would shine just as brightly, and bring others just as much joy, as the giant flowers that grew in my experimental garden last summer.

My sunflowers grew to be over nine feet tall!

This week, I thank God for the blessing of sunflowers and the lessons we can learn from them. Together, let’s celebrate every SINGLE blessing!

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