Recently, I found myself researching the behavior of sunflowers. I found it all completely fascinating and so symbolic of our relationship with God. You can read the poem I wrote here.
Sunflowers are made with solar tracking hard wired in their biological code. When the bud starts to sprout on a sunflower stalk, it will follow the sun throughout the day. At night, after the sun has set, the flower will reorient itself in an eastward direction. The same is true of the leaves. The leaves will rotate throughout the day so as to take in the most amount of sunlight for photosynthesis, the process of food digestion for plants. When the sunflower blooms and is more fully grown, it fixes in a general eastward direction, and the head of the flower no longer tracks the sun, but the leaves still will move with the sun to absorb the most sunlight.
To me, the symbolism was so powerful. The sunlight represents the manifest presence of God; it is those times when you can literally feel God’s presence with you. When you are young in the faith, you are always seeking that light, and it is easy to feel like God isn’t there with you if you do not feel He is there with you. It is easy to depend on feelings, but God is bigger than our feelings. And as we grow and mature, we realize that God is always there with us regardless of whether we feel Him or not. We still long to be in the manifest presence of God when we are mature, so we look to the east where we know we are in a position to receive His light. But even when the light is behind us, we know He is there.
The leaves represent the heart, that spiritual part of you that is always following God’s presence. It is that part of you that knows God is with you and gives you hope and assurance of it when you don’t necessarily feel like God is there.
No matter where you are, keep seeking God and His presence in your life. As Moses said, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here” (Exodus 33:15 ESV). We must position our hearts to receive God every day through worship, prayer, and devotion to Him. It isn’t about making a list to check off, but about engaging in relationship with God. When you do that, you will see that He is with you because he promises in James 4 that if you, “Draw near to God, [then] He will draw near to you.” And in Jeremiah 29:13, we are told, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all of your heart.”
If you feel you are walking through the night, and you do not see where God is in the midst of your struggle, fix your eyes eastward in expectation of the sunrise. Continually put yourself in a place where you are positioned to hear from God and to be in His presence. Go to church. Commit to worship and study of the scriptures. And find the light that is reflected on the moon. Find that thing that God has given you, that still, small remindier that He is indeed still there.