Aaron had been wanting us to plant some sunflowers for quite some time. This year I finally bought some sunflower seeds…..giant sunflowers, no less…..and while I was off to Houston to see Andrea in June, Gary and Aaron planted the sunflower seeds. They rim our garden on two sides and have grown, and grown, and grown some more. It’s been fun to watch them as they have progressed from little seedlings to what they are now. They are indeed giant sunflowers, living up to their name as we hoped they would.
One day, though, Gary announced that he would need to move two of the sunflowers. That’s because those two thriving plants were in the way of the sprinkler head that Gary had installed in that front part of the garden. I was tempted to say that we should just throw them away. We had enough sunflowers and wouldn’t even miss those two, I thought. But something stopped me from making that suggestion. I also admire Gary’s care of our plants and animals, sunflowers included; so I just watched one day as he carefully dug two new holes, gently took those two intruding sunflowers, and placed them in their new locations.
It didn’t take long, though, to see that this move had taken a severe toll on both the sunflower plants. They were no longer standing straight and tall, but instead had drooped dramatically. “They won’t make it,” I thought one day as I went to the garden to pick some produce. “The change and the move was too much for them. We really should have just thrown them out.” You can see how pathetic they looked.
I could have pulled them up right then and tossed them in one of our trash cans outside. But again, something stopped me……and I’m so glad it did.
I’m glad because in only six days from when I took those pictures of our very sad sunflowers, I again went out to the garden and was amazed at what I saw! Look at this!
Both sunflowers had grown! They had not only grown, but they were each producing the beginnings of a sunflower BLOOM!!
Sure, they still looked a little worse for wear. They still carried some scars from being transplanted. Some of their large leaves were still wilted, and many of the damaged leaves had died, shriveling and brown. But if I looked up above the evidences of their past stress, I could see life……new leaves, new growth, and definitely a sunflower bloom.
A couple days later the bloom on the sunflower at the end of the front row, the one that had looked the most hopeless to me, had opened even more. Other sunflowers in that front row were now blooming as well, but this one had beat them to it and was holding its own among the taller, less damaged plants. My miracle sunflower!
Have you ever felt like life was going along just fine? You enjoyed where you were…..what you were doing…..who was surrounding you? But one day things changed. Maybe it was over a matter of time, long or short, or maybe it was sudden. But you found yourself transplanted, in a sense, from what you loved…..from what was comfortable…..even perhaps from people that you enjoyed being around.
When life changes like that and we are put into the unfamiliar or the unwelcome or the uncomfortable places, then it’s natural to shrivel up as we react to the shock of such changes. We don’t have the strength on most days, we think, to continue on like others around us seem to do so easily. Don’t they see our pain? Don’t they feel our sorrow? And even if they do, they really don’t……totally.
But the real issue is our own adjustment to our new normal, trusting the One Who transplanted us in the first place. Why did God think it was OK to yank us out of our growing place and put us somewhere else……somewhere that we never asked to be? Yes, we said we trust the Lord and we trust His plan and all that, but we never dreamed that His plan would be so difficult.
Those sagging sunflowers had two things that I had not counted on nearly enough. Roots under the soil, and sunshine up above. The roots took hold, and the sunshine gave strength and growth, despite the trauma of being uprooted and replanted. Those sunflowers had elements fighting for them that enabled them to eventually perk up and once again grow like they were meant to grow!
Moses looked at the children of Israel in the desert after they had just crossed the Red Sea. They didn’t like being slaves, but this freedom business wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, either. They had just seen God open the waters of the sea so they could cross over. Moses then reminded them of a valuable, life changing truth.
“The Lord will fight for you, while you keep silent.” (Exodus 14:14)
Oh, how many times I have doubted God and His plan in my life! Or if I haven’t exactly doubted, I have deep down wondered about why I am where I am. I liked where I was before. I liked how things were going. But this business of having God yank me out of my place I loved……even the place He had at one time PUT me……is not all it’s cracked up to be in all the sweet devotional books I have read. It’s just hard sometimes…..and exhausting.
I have felt like my two sunflower plants sometimes. Shocked……tired…..unhappy…..positively wilted.
But what God told Israel……what He tells me……what He tells you……is still true, every single day.
He will fight for me. There’s something to be said for being rooted in Him, and for feeling the warmth of His Word in my heart even while I’m trying to adjust to this new place.
And God doesn’t need me to do anything while He’s fighting. Just keep silent. “Be still and know that I am God,” David said in Psalm 46.
My keeping silent is sometimes the hardest part of all. I want to complain…..to question…..and most assuredly to suggest to Him a better plan. A better place in the garden. A better will for my life.
But He just wants me to zip my lips and watch Him take care of every issue and every concern and every worry and every frustrating moment and every sadness. I think that about covers it.
And God will cover it, too. He will fight for me while I am silent, watching and waiting for Him to take care of the battle.
Then one day I’ll notice something. A bloom. And some new leaves. I still might feel some scars and see some not-so-pretty leaves, but I will see that I AM growing. I AM still alive after all the stress. Not because I am so strong, but because God is so able.
He did the fighting for me while I just did the lip zipping and the trusting. I may never understand the reasons for all the upheaval, but I don’t need to understand.
I just need to obey, and then to enjoy the new life that God gives me. New blooms…..new chances to thrive again……new experiences.
An opportunity every day to look past the stress and into the face of the One Who is fighting for me with everything He has……and that’s more than enough.