There are less than 3 million people who call Kansas home. If you’re among this number, you may know the sunflower was designated as the official state flower in 1903. This long-stemmed flower with petals of golden yellow is classified as a turnsole plant, a word of French origin and one that means to “turn towards the sun.”
The sunflower, like all plants, is not self-sufficient—it depends upon the sun for essential nourishment.
Health conscious individuals are learning what botanists have known for many years: In proper amounts, there are some benefits associated with exposure to the sun. There’s ample research that’s easily available, and it indicates the sun’s rays are beneficial both physically and mentally.
While the sun is important to you physically and mentally, the Son is even more vital to your needs spiritually: “The one who believes in the Son has eternal life. The one who rejects the Son will not see life, but God’s wrath remains on him (John 3:36).”
Cultivate the habit of rising in the morning, facing the Son, and following Him throughout the day. When you practice this routine you develop a God-focused regimen of strength that recognizes that it’s, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord (Zechariah 4:6).”
So, when you rise in the morning, why not give the Son a chance to shine on you?
There are many symbols and legends that give accounts of people moving from death to life. The mythological phoenix was a bird that would rise from the ashes to new life. Another account is the biblical story (Numbers 17) of Aaron’s rod. This was a dead piece of wood that budded to new life.
The death to life cycle is what we witness each Spring as the cold hard days of winter are vanquished by the warmth of the sun and flowers begin to dot the greening landscapes. Hope, once again, is reborn.
In a few months people will return to their gardens. The soil will be cultivated and seeds planted in eager anticipation of a succulent harvest.
A part of this process is the need to weed. Tiny seeds will feed on the fertile soil, take root, and and become a nuisance.
The need to weed should also be at the top of a person’s daily agenda. The fertile ground of the mind can be a garden spot of beauty or one that is beastly in nature. It can blossom into the beauty of forgiveness or be parched with the dryness of bitterness.
The SMOOCH project addresses this need with their global documentary and online forgiveness initiative. This project profiles individuals who have found the humanity in the very persons they thought they could never forgive. Their team of filmmakers and photographers hold Forgiveness Shoots around the world that focus on both the offender and the offended. These heart-touching stories culminate in the forgiver and the forgiven giving one another a kiss on the cheek.
Jesus made a turn-the-other-cheek comment that should be enough to keep you thinking: Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously (Matthew 5:39).