I discovered this little guy as I was weeding my garden. He is one of about a dozen sunflowers that were planted at the northeast corner of my small plot. This is an example of the miracle of growth that can only come from God. The shell of the seed was balanced on the tiny sprout only for a few minutes after I caught this picture. When I saw the hull crimping the seedling’s tender leaves, and considered it, I learned a unique lesson.
This fella has alot of dangers ahead of him. Already he’s had to dodge the birds and hide from the squirrels. He’s nearly been uprooted by an over-zealous, 5-year-old gardener who thought he was a weed! (The audacity!) He has teetered on the edge of soil that was too dry, or too watery. In spite of the obstacles, he has pushed through. On this day, however, he faces the greatest foe of all…
This new plant suffers from what it used to be. It can’t seem to get past it’s past. It has indeed been regenerated, and it is very truly alive; yet in this moment it is reminded of its past death.
Galatians 5 is Paul’s God-given treatise on the Christian’s spirit and the Christian’s flesh. He explains the struggle that only the child of God has within himself to live for Christ. The believer is encouraged to “Stand fast” because his is “free” and “wait for the hope of righteousness” while “walk(ing) in the Spirit.” Concerning the Christian’s enemies, Paul judges, “I would they were beven cut off which trouble you.” (Galatians 5:12)
The problem with THAT, for you and this sunflower, is that YOU are your biggest problem!
But let me add to that statement, to say that the struggle is normal. Many people think that if they cannot do right without a fight, then they are not ‘spiritual’. Hey folks, Christ died to give victory in the struggle, not take you out of the battle! A person who doesn’t fight against sin is probably partial to it! If Paul told his followers to do any one thing, it was to FIGHT. You are a warrior or a weakling.
A caterpillar, transformed in his cocoon after long time begins the painfully slow battle for freedom. A young boy saw this epic escape, and tried to help the newly formed butterfly out of his prison. What he didn’t know, was what it gained from the struggle was the strength to live. With the struggle removed, the beautiful new creature withered and died. Don’t feel sorry because of the struggle- to live is to fight!
Additionally, the size of problem is natural to the stage of growth. The flesh is an enemy to be reckoned with… not one you want to make a peace treaty with. The old saying, “keep your friends close and your enemies CLOSER,” is exactly not how to push beyond the hindrances of your flesh. It takes some time; but Paul says that we engage in this struggle to win it. “Walk in the Spirit, and ye SHALL NOT FULFIL the lust of the flesh.”
Our warfare is expected, but it is not eternal, thank God! England and France have in their histories a conflict known as ‘The Hundred Year War’ that lasted from 1337 to 1453. “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57) The Christian life is not an endless bout, it is a steady campaign toward a worthy goal. The Lord does not demand you win every battle, he designs that you win each of them.
For example: nobody expects this seedling to bud and blossom today. No one in their right mind would count on harvesting sunflower seeds in the next week, or two, even! Everybody knows that this guy has to grow. Those challenges will come- later. Today, our only expectation is that he “put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt.” (Ephesians 4:22)
His biggest problem TODAY ought to be a laughable memory in the future. So many times we feel as though our very life is threatened by the foes of today. But day by day, as thy days, so shall thy strength be, we become stronger, and what burdened us today is now insignificant. Sunflower or saint- the size of your problem is just big enough: too big for you to handle without the help of God.
Finally, the new seasons of life will bring bigger problems- so why hold on to this one? With weather, insects, disease and a hundred other hindrances to overcome in the near future, what would be the sense in hanging on to an old, dried-up kernel of a dead life? A Christian is called to walk in newness of life- “for ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
Within just a couple minutes of taking this picture, a stiff breeze lifted that shell off. Later on, a strong wind may be a great hurdle for this crop to resist. But today the breeze was a blessing, the gale was a God-send.
Christian, God knows how to tend His garden. He expects only reasonable service for your stage of growth. He places burdens upon you that you must learn to bear, and also cast off. Don’t let present difficulty cap your growth, let it compel you toward a fruitful future. God bless!