As we road along the Tuscan countryside, I kept glancing through every window of the van. Should I look to the left or should I look right? Both views, from either side of the small winding road ahead, were absolutely spectacular and I was trying to take it all in at once. Crystal clear blue skies butted up against rich green foliage as far as my eyes could see.
I had always dreamed about going to Tuscany but on this particular day, I was living out my dreams in full color. It felt so surreal. Sort of like being the lead actress in a romantic movie with the luxury of writing my own script.
Rows and rows of olive trees stood in perfect order. Not a single one was out of place. They were all unison in height, width, and density. Next to the olive trees were exquisite grapevines, filled to overflowing with lush foliage as wet dew settled upon them from the morning’s awakening.
Although these beautiful creations were placed side by side, not a single one dared to encroach on each others space. There were no signs of grapevines advancing into the area where the olive trees rested. And, no roots from the olive trees pushed away or tried to tear apart the gentle grapevines next to them.
Instead, they bloomed within their own space, showing off their magnificence and splendor. They had no need for competition or greediness. They were happy right where their were planted, enjoying the space they had been given.
As I quietly engaged in their fanfare, teachable thoughts began to settle deep inside my heart. Oh, how I longed to be like those olive trees and grapevines. Confident in their own “skin” and not feeling one ounce of competition from those around them. My soul craved to have their attitude – to embrace myself the way they had.
Confident ~ Assured ~ Content
Maybe one day…
I patiently listened to Enrico (our driver) as he shared his great knowledge of Tuscany. I had always thought that Tuscany was a large city (I never was good at geography) but actually, it’s a region – much larger and grander than I had imagined.
I was enjoying all of the historical details Enrico was sharing but I couldn’t help but wonder why something was missing. Before I could say a word, my friend spoke up and said, “Where are all the sunflower fields?”
Enrico pointed up ahead, “They are right there.”
But, all we could see were fields of green bushes. My heart sank slowly as my posture slumped into my seat. Why aren’t they blooming? Did we miss the harvest season? I’m totally bummed!
As we drove past the fields, Erico told us to turn around. As we turned our heads and looked behind us, my heart burst with excitement. These same massive fields, that were shades of green, only moments ago, had now exploded into a bight yellow celebration.
The sunflowers were there all along. We just couldn’t see them because they were facing the sun and we were driving in the opposite direction.
Facing the sun revealed their true identity.
Facing the sun showed off their greatest beauty.
As the sunflowers were positioned upwards and onwards, their exquisite blossoms reflected the brilliance of the sunlight. Nothing was needed to draw attention to their beauty. They just stood there, resting quietly and basking in the rays of the sun. Showing off the glory of their Creator simply by being still and keeping their focus on Him.
If only I could be like those Tuscan sunflowers.
Just like the sunflowers, I want to position myself towards the Son. Keeping my face upward and my focus onward towards my Creator. Yet, the demands of each day shift my focus and distract me from what’s most important.
Just like the sunflowers, I long to rest quietly in the assurance of who God has created me to be. Yet, I can quickly lose that assurance when I look around and compare myself to others. It leaves me feeling less-than and insignificant, asking the question once again, “How can God possibly use me?”
My greatest achievement (just like those sunflowers) will be to reveal God’s glory in all that I do. Yet, there are many days that I find myself bidding for things to be done “my way” and taking the credit that I don’t deserve.
I’m so thankful that God loves me enough to use grapevines, olive trees, and sunflowers fields as teachable moments to reveal His glory. God loves you too! Did you know that He is continuously revealing Himself to you too? Maybe God is tugging on your heart right now? Give yourself permission and take a few minutes to quietly sit in His presence.
Just like those sunflowers, your true identity and greatest beauty will be revealed when you are facing towards and focused on the Son.
Question: Has God ever used something in nature to teach you one of His spiritual truths?
Photo Courtesy: Frank Gardner