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Sunflowers Following the Light

Updated on August 15, 2016

Sunflower closeup

Sunflower--Perfect Example for Believers

Sunflowers Follow the Light—A Perfect Example for Christians

John 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

I once read that sunflowers always follow the sun, facing to the east in the morning and moving to the west in the evening. As you watch the attached Youtube video at the end of this article you will see just that; you will even see the sunflower droop somewhat as if it is resting at night.

David Henke, Senior Lecturer in Plant Sciences, at Cambridge University explains it this way. “It is actually very simple: there is a kind of driver which is growth. If you look at a sunflower there is a narrow neck which is growing, and it is in this narrow neck where most of the cell expansion, and therefore most of the expansion of the stem takes place. And this takes place at different rates on different sides of the stem.

So, in the morning, most of this growth is on the West side of the stem so the flower tilts to the East; later on in the day you get stronger and faster growth on the north side, so the flower becomes tilted and so on until the evening when it ends up facing West.

At night the growth is corrected and you have a great deal of growth on the West side so at the beginning of the day it is facing East again. This pattern is probably driven by some kind of internal clock, which is set by the transition at the end of the day from light to dark, which then starts the whole process of West side growth in the flower.

We know that the sensitivity of plants to light in terms of the sensors capable of picking up light are quite remarkable, and you can show that the light of a full moon on a completely clear night is just about perceptible to a plant, and the problem is that most of the time the moon isn't full. Sunflowers do unwind at night using the same alternating growth mechanism as in the day.

But what is also interesting is that no one really knows why the flowers themselves follow the sun. The best guess is that they need more heat to grow more seeds....”

To my way of thinking there is no guessing to it. God created the sunflower to do exactly what it does, just as He created all the other plants and animals. Whatever the reason, it’s obvious the sunflower desires to keep facing the light from dawn to setting sun. What a perfect example for Christians to follow.

There are two types of light in the world, physical light and spiritual light. When we are born into this world we perceive physical light. When we are reborn into the family of God we perceive the spiritual light.

Plants will never move away from the light; they are positively drawn to it. In the same way, spiritual light is necessary for spiritual life. In John 8:12 Jesus declared: ”I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but have the light of life.” This can be a good test in a believers standing in Christ. A true believer should always tend toward spiritual things, such as fellowship, prayer, the Word of God, etc. Just as the sunflower diligently follows the sun, a believer should do the same.

There are two promises in John 8:12: First, whosoever follows Jesus will never walk in darkness. All believers have a tendency to lose focus from time to time, especially when things seem to be going right. We forget who is making those things go right in the first place. Just like the sunflower, we need to keep our eyes on the Son at ALL times! Why do we feel we don’t need God’s guidance until we are facing bad times or some sort of trial in our lives? It couldn’t be said better by Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary: “Those who desire a sight of Christ, like Zacheus, will break through opposition and take pains to see Him.” This is something believers should desire to do. God promises to bless us if we just seek Him.

The second promise is believers will have the light of life. Jesus is promising we will reflect Him. He is commanding us to be lights, too. Just as the moon has no light of its own, reflecting the light of the sun, believers are to reflect the Light of Christ so that all can see it in us. The Light is evident to others by the good deeds we do in faith and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Another example set by the sunflower – submission – following the sun is all they do. From the time the sun comes up in the east and goes down in the west, the sunflower willingly follows. In a sense you can see this as a life cycle, birth to death. For new Christians, there shouldn’t be any other desire other than to follow Jesus wherever He leads. But, the world gets in the way, we, ourselves, get in the way of God’s plan for our lives. From the time we accept Jesus into our hearts we should continually DESIRE to seek Him! We should submit ourselves to His will and keep Him in the center of our lives. Mat 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Jesus also tells us in the next chapter “…the gate is straight and the way narrow….” When I was in the high school marching band, we had to learn to walk straight lines. The only way to do that was to focus on an object ahead of you and take one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. It didn’t come easy, it didn’t happen overnight either. Walking the straight and narrow is no walk in the park. God never promised an easy life as His child. But we can take comfort in the fact that He will always take us through every challenge in life. He will never let us go through something we can’t handle WITHOUT Him! How does that old hymn go?

Without Him I could do nothing

Without Him I’d surely fail

Without Him I would be drifting

Like a ship without a sail.

Take it from the sunflower…if it gets what it needs continually facing the sun, then maybe that’s what we should be doing…continually facing the SON.

How time flies


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