There are moments that seem insignificant but become something more. In our home, we call them unexpected gifts. It happened to me today at the kitchen table while I sat with my daughter Abby. I was listening to her complete a reading assignment about Canadian agriculture. I must admit, the topic had already made me soften with mentions of maple trees and maple syrup from the homeland. My grandfather use to tap maple trees and gather the sap in metal buckets. He created this precious treat in a sugar shack tucked in the woods on their farm. I tear up thinking about him now. It’s been 15 years this August since he went home to be with the Lord. I’m sure he would be proud to know that his legacy continues on the old farm as my cousin and his wife have started growing and selling berries. If you’re ever in the area, you should check them out at Pinehill Farms. Tell them I sent you.
Back at the table, Abby continued reading. “Sunflowers are also widely grown in Canada.” She looked up at me and we both smiled. You see, two years ago, Abby and I had decided to try growing sunflowers in our garden. The only stipulation we both had was that they needed to be the flowers that produced edible seeds. I had never grown flowers. To be honest, I wasn’t sure they were going to make it because it was almost too early to be planting them. To our surprise, they came up a few weeks after we put the seeds in the ground.
Throughout the summer, my daughter and I would wander out to check on the flowers. I remember her smile as reached up to hold my hand as we walked to the garden. Abby grew to love these little plants. She was so attentive to care for them. When they needed watering, she watered them. When they needed extra support, we worked together to make sure they were anchored to the fence. I will never forget the day when the flowers began to open. Her excitement brought me joy. We took a photo to remember that day and her sweet face.
As the summer came to a close, so did the life of our flowers. The petals had withered and fallen, and the faces began to droop and dry. A quick search on Google helped us know it was time to harvest the seeds. Abby careful held the heads as I cut them from the stem. We gather them up and took them inside. She eagerly began pulling the seeds out one by one. Eventually, we washed them and sent them into the oven covered with light oil and salt. I’m pretty sure they didn’t last long after that. We enjoyed every bite!
Sitting here, I’m struck by something so simple that God has been whispering to my heart in recent months. Those memories became wonderful treasures, but it wasn’t because we loved sunflowers. We didn’t. It became a treasure because we did it together. Abby loved it because she did it WITH me.
There is something so powerful about “with.” This little word has the power to bring people together and create something so beautiful. It is necessary in the process of building trust and establishing relationships. I recently started reading a book by Allen Arnold called “The Story of WITH.” In April, I had a chance to talk with Allen about his book. I related to his story as we talked about this journey in life. In his book, he describes how his life took an interesting turn when God showed him that he was living for the approval of others. He was driven to perform and attempt to earn love, as so many of us do: “Our bosses, our leaders, and even our spouses convey (often unintentionally) that the way to be more is to do more.” Before you think you’re above it because you’re a Christian, Allen continues: “You can believe in God and still miss life with Him. You can know about God and still live as an Orphan.”
You see, we have all be guilty of trying to do more FOR God rather walking WITH Him. God’s invitation to all of us is life with Him. He doesn’t want us walking through life on our own, hoping to make him happy while He sits at a distance. Life with God is learning how to become a son and a daughter. Our role in this relationship is to allow God to be our Father. It’s reaching to Him, like my daughter reached for me, knowing He that delights in us and He will reach back.
How does this play out for me? It starts with inviting God into my day. I mentioned in my last blog that I’m slowly learning how to refrain from connecting with the world until I connect with my Father. Even before my feet hit the floor, I’ve been challenged to reach for Him before even reaching for my phone. Does this mean everyone should do it? No. It’s not a formula or prescriptive intervention that guarantees an outcome. That’s legalism and that’s not how relationships work. Divine strategies come when we stop and ask God what He has for us.
Are these ideas challenging? Absolutely. I’m still challenged as I write this. At this moment as I ponder sonship and becoming a daughter, I hear one of my favorite songs echoing in my heart. It’s a song by Cory Asbury entitled, “Where I belong.” It seems fitting to share it with you. If you’d be willing, take a few moments to listen and reach to your Father.
“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?’ God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who He is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with Him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with Him!”