Social media is full of quizzes from, What state should you live in? to What’s your Indian warrior name?. Recently, I ran across one asking, What type of flower are you? I didn’t take the quiz but knew right away I’d want to be a rose.
I love roses, especially hybrid tea roses—the type of rose that comes to mind when most of us picture a rose, long stemmed, multi-petaled, rich colored with an enticing smell. Once I had a prolific rose garden with over thirty bushes that I tended regularly. During blooming season I was sure to have vases full of their beauty as their rich fragrance infused our home. But then—I reconsidered my choice.
Other flowers are prettier, more popular, even smell much better, but the flower I hope to be is the sunflower.
Sunflowers are givers.
Roses may tantalize our senses for a time but they quickly fade leaving only a memory. They can also be a source of great pain as anyone who has gotten too close to a rose’s thorns can attest. I may even still have pruning scars. Roses are designed to be adored from a safe distance.
Sunflowers, on the other hand, give their lives in the service of others. Their seeds provide nourishment to both animals and humans, when pressed they give us healthy oil for cooking, and when all seems done their remains can still serve as food for livestock.
As believers, we are called to be givers, not only towards our family and friends, but to the world at large. Contrary to the common attitude it’s all about me, it’s a mind-set of I am second.
I want to reach heaven, completely used up, having held nothing back.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 20:28)
Sunflowers are resilient.
Roses are demanding; somewhat delicate, they require attentive care to thrive. They need at least six hours of sunlight-preferably in the morning, regular water- but never standing water, heavy pruning in February and a slightly acidic soil. Prone to insects and fungus they must be treated regularly. The rose is the diva of the flower world.
By contrast, the sunflower is more forgiving. While they grow best in certain situations, they can still thrive most anywhere. They aren’t delicate or prone to ailments. They persevere and remain fruitful.
We are called to press on in trials and to have joy in the midst of sorrow. Jesus is clear that trouble comes to all but assures that as His children we will not be overcome. We are given hope, the Gospel, as an anchor for our souls. Who needs an anchor in the calm?
I want to live a life that glorifies God, no matter the circumstances.
“Whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worth of the gospel of Christ.” (Phil. 1:27)
Sunflowers have the right focus.
Like most other flowers, roses need sun but wait for it to come to them. They may reach towards it slightly when they are planted in shadow but are mostly content to let it draw nearer to them.
Sunflowers, instead, are sun-focused. They track the sun by turning their buds to follow it across the sky. As a mature flower, the stem hardens to fix the flower’s face towards the morning sun, protecting the seeds from being scorched. This innate affinity for the sun serves as a natural compass for any that loses their direction.
Living in a fallen world, we are called to serve as Christ’s ambassadors, to be natural representatives of His supernatural truth. No matter where we are, no matter what we do, the unsaved remain lost unless all that we are points the way to the Son.
I want to live a life that is focused on the Son, following His lead wherever that may take me. My hope is to serve as a spiritual compass that leads to Him.
“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? (Matt. 5:13a)
Message for the Journey:
The way of the rose is easy; it’s a life that focuses on temporary needs and pleasures. The way of the sunflower requires effort and action. And while it’s true that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, it’s the sunflower that is a source of life.
Which one are you?