Illustrative Gleanings: The Heliotrope and Sunflower - 2

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
WE told in a former article about the hesiotrope, as it was even called by the old Greeks, and now we are able to give a beautiful illustration of this familiar garden friend. These papers about flowers are principally addressed to young people: but we are sure they contain valuable lessons for “children of a larger growth.”
Let us now speak further about the other plant, the Sunflower.
In some countries it is largely cultivated for its seeds, which are fattening food for fowls. In Russia, and in some of the Western States of America, Sunflowers are cultivated for supplying fuel. In Russia, they have for centuries been grown for this purpose. In Dakota, United States, they are planted like corn (maize). They are harvested in two parts: the seed-heads being cut oft; and put away in a corncrib, and the stalks piled in a shed. When cut in the right time the stalks, when dry, are hard as oak, and make a good hot fire: while the seed-heads, with the seeds in, make a better fire than the best hard coal: the seed being very rich in oil, will burn better and longer, bushel for bushel, than hard coal.
Thus you see how, in many ways, the sun makes this flower very useful: and Christ, “the Sun of Righteousness,” will do spiritually the like for you, if only you will wait upon Him continually. He will make your lives useful lives. Like Him, when He was here upon earth, you will go about “doing good” (Acts 10:3838How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. (Acts 10:38)). And when He comes again, and takes with Him all who love and follow Him, it will be such joy to you to know that one and another, by the kind words which He enabled you to speak, or by the holy life which He enabled you to live, were led to Him, as their Saviour, and by His grace were saved.
But the sun does more for this flower, which always turns its face to him. Later on in the year the whole of the center of the flower is filled up with little, slate-colored, oblong seeds. The sun causes these to swell and ripen, and if you were to plant in the ground all the seeds produced by one Sunflower, you would have next year I do not know how many young Sunflowers, but probably more than a hundred. From these seeds also, when pressed, chemists get a fine smooth oil, which is used for making soap, and the soap made with it softens one’s skin, and keeps it from chapping in the winter.
Well, the sun, to which this flower always turns, gives to it its honey, and so makes it useful to the busy little bees. If the bees could speak I am sure they would say to the Sunflower, “Please keep on turning to the sun, for the more you do so, the more honey shall we be able to get from you.”
(1.) God has given to the Sunflower a strong stem, hollow throughout like a sugar cane, and quite able to keep the flower upright without its being tied to a stick. Some flowers, as you know, have such slender, weak stalks, that they cannot stand alone, but must be tied to a stick. Not so the Sunflower. If you do tie it to anything you should leave the tie very loose, so that the flower can turn itself round to the sun all the day. It cannot do this if it is tied up tightly.
(2.) The Sunflower should always be planted in an open piece of ground, and not under the shadow of a tree. There should be nothing between its face and the sun, if it is to be useful and strong. Now, if we let our pleasures or our work occupy us so much that we have no time for thinking of or talking to the Lord, they will come between our souls and Him, like the branches of a tree between the Sunflower and the sun, and shut off from us His health-giving light. And then we shall be spiritually puny and weak, instead of being what God wants us to be, vigorous and strong for Him.