Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sunflower Hearts

A couple of weeks ago, my sister and I were babysitting for a family that lives out in the country a ways (well, technically you could probably get away with saying that anyone who lives in my end of the state probably lives more or less 'out in the country' but to us, this family lives out in the country.). Their youngest son is around two and let me just say two year olds have the energy of an NYC power plant. He was wound up pretty much every second, running here and there and quite literally everywhere from the minute we showed up. We were watching him from 8 until 5ish (my mom says that kind of babysitting is called birth control. I was under the impression that birth control was a pill, but I guess it could be babysitting too. ;) ), for three days one week and two days the week after that. It was pretty crazy.

So it's just me, my sister, and a two year old, out way in the middle of nowhere, hanging out running all over. The family is into rodeo stuff and they have cows and horses and such, along with a very large, very white dog. I think she said he was a Pyrenees. The second day we were out there, the FedEx man showed up with a large package to deliver. Squirt and I were out behind the house with the Lil Cowboy and he was splashing around in a small pool. I heard a car engine in the driveway and poked my head around the house.

The FedEx man was standing halfway between the door and his truck, with Buddy on his heels. The dog didn't bark, didn't jump up on him or anything.Just stood there, right behind the poor guy, and watched him. "Here, Buddy," I yelled. "Come here, it's okay, come on, Buddy." I walked toward the house and the dog and the FedEx man.

"I have a package for you," the man offered, holding out the box.

"I'm just the babysitter, but thanks. I'll put it inside. Come here, Buddy, it's okay."

The dog was rather reluctant to let the poor guy go, but after a second or two he called off the stakeout and ambled over to me.

Now, Buddy is a really great guard dog. Really truly fantastic. If anybody he doesn't know shows up on his turf, he's all over them. The Squirt and I sort of got grafted into his domain just because we were always with the Lil Cowboy. But otherwise, he stays right with any strangers until they're safely off his property.

Buddy is also very friendly once he decides that you're safe. He's absolutely huge, but he really loves to snuggle. We would be outside, and Buddy would come barreling over and just lean his full weight against my sister or me and stay there for several minutes. That got a little interesting, especially if there wasn't anything close by for us to lean against to avoid falling flat on our backs.

The third day we were out there, my sister and I were totally exhausted. So when the Mama Cowgirl told us about a little red wagon-stroller-thingy, we were all over that idea. "Hey, cowboy, should we take your wagon and go for a walk?"

"Sure!" He was all over that idea too.

Around nine, we headed out onto the gravel country road that led up to the house. In one direction, there were train tracks that were always busy (we probably heard seven or eight trains a day) and the highway. In the other direction, there was a bright yellow dead end sign and tons of sunflowers.

Naturally, we headed for the sunflowers. Out there, it was mostly quiet except for the wagon wheels crunching through the gravel and the birds singing. We saw a spray-plane, a tractor pulling a disk, and a farmer on a four wheeler. The Cowboy loved it. It also wore him out, which we loved.

As we walked, I couldn't help but notice the multitude of bright yellow flowers along the side of the road. They were bright and cheery and most of them faced the light in the east, on my right. The flowers on  my left stood straight and tall and smiled at the sun.

On my right, there was a row of large evergreen trees between the sunflowers and the sun. The poor flowers seemed to be dreadfully confused because of those trees. Instead of facing east, towards the sun, most of them faced west, towards the only light they could find. A few taller ones had found the sun behind the trees, but the majority of them were facing the wrong direction.

I started thinking about those flowers and their predicament. Sometimes I think we as humans are a lot like sunflowers. Christians are like the sunflowers on my left- connected to God (the sun) and able to see His light even through the dark times (the trees). But unbelievers can't find the light because when hard times come, they aren't able to fall on God and call out to Him for strength. So they turn away from the hard times- and consequently the hope that God wants to offer them through that hard time- and focus on something that will only temporarily help them. The sunflowers that didn't face the sun had indeed found a light in the west- but it was just the light of the sun spreading over the trees. So while they had found a light, it wasn't really a source, and eventually that light wouldn't be there anymore. Even if something blocked the sun from lighting the west, the flowers on the left that faced the sun would still be able to follow it because they had already found it and could just adjust to face it no matter where it went.

I know this illustration isn't perfect, but it got me thinking. Am I consistently looking to God and following Him wherever He goes? Or am I chasing other things that look good and bright, so that I can temporarily avoid dealing with the hard stuff?

God, make my heart like the sunflowers on the left side of the road. Help me to always look to You, even if it means facing the trees and dark things in the world. Amen.