This year, more than any other, I have noticed the big, bright blooms of sunflowers popping up in many yards and gardens. Interestingly, the National Garden Bureau has designated 2021 to be the “Year of the Sunflower.” This particular beauty I recently photographed was absolutely magnetizing as it stood tall, directly facing the sun, and basking in the glory of its Maker.
The sunflower’s scientific name is Helianthus annuus which comes from the Greek words helios meaning “sun” and anthos meaning “flower.” They are heliotropic which means they turn to follow the movement of the sun from east to west and then turn back in the evening to face east so they are ready for the morning sun.
When the flower begins the day by facing east, it heats up more quickly, attracting pollinating insects like bees who prefer warm flowers. The role of pollination is for a plant to be able to produce good seeds and full-bodied fruit. The fruit of the sunflower is the seeds contained in the center. Each sunflower head can hold as many as 1000 to 2000 seeds! They are ready for harvest once the sunflower has died.
It has now been over four decades since I celebrated my first spiritual birthday on this very memorable day, July 18th – the day I believed in Jesus Christ as my personal Savior to cleanse me from all of my sin. Through the years, I have found that being a follower of Christ is very much like the sunflower…
Faith grows best in full sun. That “sun” is Jesus, the Light of the world.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
Just as the sunflower consistently follows after the movement of the sun, we must also follow after Christ by living in a way that pleases and glorifies Him. We learn how to do this by intentionally studying God’s Word. The more we seek Him, turning our heart toward Him rather than in the direction of the world that has turned away from Him, the more we grow in our faith.
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17
Sunflowers need to be watered thoroughly to encourage deep rooting. Once they start to root, they begin to grow vigorously. They can easily shoot up six feet in just three months with some varieties growing over 16 feet! Likewise, our roots will grow deeper when we are regularly watered with the knowledge and wisdom of God’s Word.
Even more than knowledge and wisdom, it is experiencing Jesus’ love for us that will grow our faith exponentially. Like the bees attracted to the warmth of the sun, we can’t help but be drawn to His love!
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17b-19
The healthier the soil, the larger the sunflower’s bloom. As we meditate upon all that God wants to teach us through the nourishment of His Word and then apply it directly to our lives, the larger our bloom as we become a greater reflection of His light reaching more and more people stuck in darkness.
When we spend time being pollinated by the Word, the Holy Spirit (our Helper) enables us to produce the fruit of the Spirit which includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
We may never realize our own harvest of those who come to know Jesus as a result of the fruit of the Spirit shining through us until after we die and enter into our eternal Home in heaven. All we are called to do is to continue facing toward the “sun,” following Jesus with our whole heart. As His radiant glory is beautifully reflected in us, He will provide the abundant harvest.
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