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God Gave me Flowers

God Gave me Flowers

My past is a trail highlighted by the places where flowers grew. I can track my life in flowers and foliage. I can’t tell you who was with me during many childhood events, or even what we did, but I can tell you the colors of the flowers and the kind of plants that grew nearby.

I’ve always been drawn to flowers. My first wanderings, at the age of four, were in search of flowers. Out of the yard, into the nearby graveyard, and across the lawn to bouquets conveniently placed for my little fingers and sniffing nose to find. (Yes, that journey got me into trouble.) I have no memory of the gravestones but I still remember the flowers. When I was five or six I experienced the wonder of God in a beautiful encounter with an iris. (You can read the story of this first powerful connection to beauty in the post, ‘Beautiful Journey’.)

It’s only recently I’ve come to see how my path has been dusted by beauty, scents, and the colors of flowers. I denied them room in my life for many years as I sought a professional career. I was a woman in management in a man’s world—yes, it was a struggle back in those days. In one instance, I was actually told to my face I would never get the job because I wasn’t a man. I met the challenges and won some battles, but the cost was high. What it really took from me was the beauty of flowers. I began to choose black or gray suits and filled my world with dark, muted colors to diminish any femininity that might come leaking out and undermine my goals. But I’ve come to realize flowers are a part of the identity God formed in me. I was created to respond to flowers and when I don’t there is something sadly missing. The color of life becomes gray.

Flowers speak to me of many things. They artistically express beauty, color, form, and shape. I see the essence of God in the glory of a flower. They also speak to me of hope. Flowers are the evidence a plant is going to produce fruit. The sign there is something more to come. Flowers remind me of transition. A flower is only one stage in the life of a plant. A lovely one, but not the end as there will be fruit and more seeds produced. Last winter, God dropped three words into my heart for the coming year: transition, fruit, and harvest. As I contemplate a delicate bloom I see the promise in a single flower and have hope.

One day not so long ago, I realized I had permission to enjoy flowers. That loving them did not diminish my strength. The power of beauty superseded my perception of fragility. Just because it looked fragile didn’t mean it was—not in ways that matter. I saw that simply because a flower was delicate didn’t mean it couldn’t stand up to storms or burst its way through rocks to bloom on frozen mountain tops. Like love is stronger than death.

Flowers also speak to me of God’s love of variety. Thousands of flowers all over the earth express beauty in very different ways. Loving flowers is a celebration of the unique and beautiful. How can I answer the question, “What is the best flower?” or “Which flower is the most beautiful?” Should I even ask that question when each flower has its own lovely essence? Flowers teach me to focus so I can see variations and subtle color shifts, different shapes, forms and textures that are all just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed when I take the time to look.

I always come back to the idea that beauty has the power to change the world. We are designed to respond to what’s beautiful in nature, in people, and in relationships. We are created to resonate to music, art, poetry, and stories. Sometimes it takes discipline for me to accept the gift of flowers from God. I have to pay attention when I’m in a hurry or busy or I will miss all the flowers He’s put in my path to remind me of His love and beauty. If we slow down and focus we’ll see what God’s put in front of us to remind us of His powerful beauty and love. As Grandma always said, “Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.”

The Power of Beauty  |  Naeem Fazal  |  Video

Sunflower Mystery

Sunflower Mystery

The sunflower is a mystery to me. When young, the flowers follow the sun through the day from east to west. Every day. Oh, yes, science has described this behavior…given it a name and categorized the actions, as Robert Farrar Capon says, but even so, it is a plant. And it is following the sun… I still watch in wonder.

The sunflower is a mystery, just as every single thing in the universe is.

God, even more, is a mystery. A conundrum. A puzzle. And seeking His face is a journey into a strange place. Very Strange. Where I give, in order to have enough. Where I fight with weapons of love. Where I forgive and bless my enemies. Where I seek to be like a child in order to move mountains. Where loving Jesus in worship and praise summons the presence of the almighty God. Where giving Him all gets me everything…the desires of my heart. Where letting my dreams die brings joy unspeakable and rich life that never dies. This mysterious God loves me. Thinks only good thoughts of me. Plans to give me a future and a hope.

I so seldom ask what is on His heart when I pray. Somehow believing He is as bound up with my challenges as I am. And in a way that’s true, but I am also learning He has a deeper truth for addressing the things that trouble me. Asking what is on His heart changes the fabric of my life. He responds to my invitation. To my query. And I find His reality is a place rich and deep and wide, filled with joy and peace and love. And when I ask the right questions, the mystery begins to unfold, little by little, in a delightful and satisfying way.

We are so impressed by scientific clank that we feel we ought not to say that the sunflower turns because it knows where the sun is. It is almost second nature to us to prefer explanations . . . with a large vocabulary. We are much more comfortable when we are assured that the sunflower turns because it is heliotropic. The trouble with that kind of talk is that it tempts us to think that we know what the sunflower is up to. But we don’t. The sunflower is a mystery, just as every single thing in the universe is.

Robert Farrar Capon