The sunflower is one of the world’s most familiar flowers. Replicating the pattern and colors of the sun, it resembles its namesake. The flower grows tall and proud and symbolizes vitality, devotion, and adoration. Who can resist a smile of delight when looking at one of these beauties? No wonder it’s recognized by so many.
The sunflower has another characteristic that relates to its name. It follows the sun. A young flower faces east at dawn, waiting patiently for the sunrise. Throughout the day, it slowly tracks the sun’s light as it moves west across the sky. Then during the night, the flower gently rotates east to begin the cycle again.
This movement of the sunflower is due to its uneven growth. The east side of the stem elongates during the day while the west side grows at night, stimulating the constant rotation. Facing the sun gives the flowers extra warmth which better attracts pollinators.
Once a sunflower reaches maturity, its overall growth slows. The plant gradually stops turning westward during the day because mature sunflowers react more strongly to the sun’s early morning warmth.
I wish I was as devout and loyal as the sunflower in seeking out the spiritual light in my life. Just as the sunflower needs physical light to survive, we need the spiritual light of Jesus to thrive.
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but have the light of life” (John 8:12).
It’s much easier to follow the light of Jesus when our life is going well, when all is sunny and bright. But what about those times when darkness descends:
- a broken relationship
- a gut-wrenching medical diagnosis
- the loss of a loved one
- an employer who doesn’t need us anymore.
We’re going to face struggles in life. Struggles when numbness threatens to overtakes us. Struggles that leave us in a state of paralysis. Struggles when depression and hopelessness loom on the horizon.
But Jesus promises we never have to walk in darkness despite our clouds of pain. He is our refuge. He is our strength. The key to peace when walking through dark times is to draw close to Him.
“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” (Ps 27:8).
Even on gray cloudy days, the sunflower continues to follow the sun. In fact, the flower can point us to the sun’s position in the sky when we can’t see it. Let’s be as faithful as this unique plant in seeking Jesus, our spiritual light. Again, and again. Day by day.
By keeping our eyes fixed on Him, our dark times won’t overshadow our source of inner light. But it doesn’t end there, for Jesus also tells us:
“You are the light of the world” (Matt 5:14).
Jesus said he came as the light of the world, but he also instructs us to be a light of the world. We do this by reflecting His light. We reflect His light by the way we lead our lives—loving others as He loves us. His light shines through our actions, words and thoughts. When we faithfully follow Him, we add light to the world.
Sunflowers are true followers of their source of life, the sun. As believers, let’s become devoted followers of our source of life—Jesus Christ. By seeking His light, we find peace in our struggles and cast His light into a dark and hurting world