This is a perfect sunflower.
Even if a few of the ray petals have been nibbled, the next one is still perfect.
And this ragged, windblown flower, eaten by root worm beetles?
The beautiful, golden ray petals are gone. The leaves have shriveled in hot, dry winds.
This sunflower head is frostbitten, not a trace of green leaf or sunny yellow left.
It is absolutely perfect!
Not your idea of perfection? It depends on what language you’re speaking. We English speakers most often think of this definition of the word “perfect:”
entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings; correct in every detail
Some of us have carried over this idea of flawlessness to our Christian walk, thinking a character and life without defects was required of us. We have heard bits of verses taken out of the whole of Scripture, and they made living the Christian life seem like a Herculean task.
For every honest heart knows they are bug-eaten, wind-blown, and drought-stunted. There are days the hard freezes of life stop us in our tracks, and we feel like dried-out husks without a tinge of green life left in us. We make the choices and say the words and think the thoughts that take us a universe away from perfection.
There is good news, friends! We need to reclaim the older meanings of the word “perfect.” The old Latin word from which our English comes is
“perfectus:” to finish, bring to completion.
In the Greek of the New Testament is the word for “perfect” (teleios) which speaks of
a thing meeting its intended, end purpose.
What is the designed, end purpose of the sunflower? In general, all of creation testifies to God’s glory and His character.
Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. Romans 1:20 RSV
However, what can the sunflower do that nothing else can? It produces sunflower seeds–enough seeds to ensure reproduction and to feed birds and other animals.
We live in a broken world , but the good news is “the Good News.” Jesus provided a way for us to be forgiven, and now we can live out our intended end purpose. Jesus taught that the first and second greatest commandments were to love God and love our neighbor as our self.
We can love and glorify God. We can love our neighbors by sharing the gospel seeds with a world that is spiritually (and literally) hungry. Be a perfect sunflower–face the warm sun and “go to seed.”
If you haven’t read Leslie Leyland Fields yet, then you’re missing out on some wonderful stories, beautifully told:
life in Alaska as a commercial salmon-fishing family,
the trip from one island to another surrounded by a pod of fin whales,
the Baptist church pew on the boat dock,
and the problems at the intersection of Kodiak bears and garbage containers.
Leslie allows us a glimpse into a life and a landscape that few of us will every experience. Whether we are surrounded by suburbia, corn fields, or Alaskan mountains, we share the same faith in God–in his love and his workings in our wild hearts.
Her memoir Surviving the Island of Grace: A Life on the Wild Edge of America is available as an e-book today and tomorrow (Oct. 8 & 9) for 99 cents.
I’m on chapter two. I recommend it.