'The Heliotropic Life'
Wednesday, August, 9, 2017 | 2:26 PM | by Munholland
I grew sunflowers as a kid. I loved how large and beautiful they were. They would tower over me with their great big flowers full of seeds. The neatest thing about them, I thought, was that sunflowers are part of the heliotrope family--they turn their faces toward the sun as it moves across the sky. The sunflower appreciates the sun and so turns its face toward it to bask in it more fully. To me, it represents a thankful life. Giving thanks to God affirms God's goodness toward us and aligns us with his purposes, just like the sunflower that looks toward its source of life.
The Gospels tell of how Jesus lived a heliotropic life - always looking toward God. Jesus frequently went off to pray, gave thanks before he performed miracles, and gave thanks at meals. Jesus, at the Passover meal, gave thanks to the Father for all that God had done and was doing in the world for its good and redemption. Jesus included himself in the thanksgiving when he said, 'this is my body' and 'this is my blood'. This is why we often refer to Holy Communion as the "Eucharist", which means 'Thanksgiving' in Greek. Jesus offered his whole self as the only appropriate response to the Father's love, and aligned himself with God's redeeming work in the world. We do the same when we live thankful lives.
I have found in my own life that the more aware I am of God's blessings in my life, the happier, more satisfied, and more optimistic I am. I'm not saying that giving thanks makes everything easy and melts away problems, but it makes them easier. Every time I affirm God's goodness in my life, I realize in the core of my being that the All Loving, All Faithful God is working for my good. It opens my mind to greater possibilities and solutions because I look to the wisdom and understanding that God may give me. My thinking and creativity are not stuck between my ears, but are connected to the Logos through whom all things were created.
Something else to consider is that Jesus 'on the night he was betrayed, gave thanks...' Wow! How could Jesus give thanks in the midst of betrayal? How did he not get utterly discouraged, angry, bitter, and fearful? Jesus lived a life of thankfulness, which gave him strength since he knew that he was part of God's redemptive work which would change the world. We too, can find the capacity to deal with tragedy and evil when we affirm the goodness and presence of God - when we turn our face toward him. Not only can we endure hardship, but we can become part of the redeeming work that God can work in all situations. Christians are not given the option of throwing up our hands and quitting when times get tough. We are called to be part of the solution, the healing that needs to take place in our relationships at work and home.
Consider how you are living the 'heliotropic life'. Turn your face toward God throughout the day. Give thanks when you wake up and every time you break bread. Turn to God when you need insight and wisdom. Turn to God for strength when times are tough. Turn toward God to find out how to bless your friends and enemies alike. You will find that the most peaceful and powerful life is the heliotropic life.
Blessed to be a blessing,