Sunflowers, Two Prophets, and a 7-year-old Girl

CCE00000It was one of my “Bad Dad” moments.  My daughter Amy was telling me about her day, with all the excruciating detail that matters to a 7-year-old girl (but much less to her tired father).  She could tell I was distracted (I guess reading the newspaper gave it away) and said “Daddy, listen to me!”  Not impressed by my lame assurance that she had my full attention, Amy grabbed my cheeks in both of her cute little hands, turned my face toward hers, and sternly admonished me: “No, Daddy, listen with your eyes!”

My little girl had already learned an important lesson – if she didn’t have my face, she didn’t have my focus.

I thought of that moment when I read Jeremiah 32 this last week.  As the Babylonian army is surrounding Jerusalem, God and the prophet have a conversation about the failures of the Israelites that led to this tragedy.  God summarizes the problem in verse 33: “And they have turned their back to me and not their face; though I taught them, teaching again and again, they would not listen and receive instruction.”

Seventy years later, another prophet took the lesson to heart.  Sitting in Babylon, Daniel read Jeremiah’s prophecy, no doubt including the verse quoted above, and succeeded where his countrymen had failed.  After reading the prophecy about the length of the exile, he wrote this: “I gave my attention to the Lord God, to seek Him” (Dan. 9:3)  The phrase “gave my attention” literally means “set my face.”

Daniel learned from Israel’s mistakes.  God had his face, and God had his focus.

My spiritual life has benefited powerfully these last few months from a decision to regularly give my attention to the Lord God, to seek Him, to go for walks with Him, to come to Him with no agenda other than that of a child who wants to spend time with his Father.  I’m heading out on a Sabbath hike this afternoon, and I can’t wait!

Sabbath is a good way to give God our face and our focus, but it isn’t the only one.  What is yours?  Have you discovered the joy of significant, uninterrupted time with Him, when as the hymn says, you can “turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face?”  It won’t come naturally, because the distractions are many.  You can’t coast your way to these moments – you have to pursue them tenaciously.  But they are worth pursuing.  They really, REALLY are!

IMG_7684We can learn a lesson from a flower. Sunflowers are designed to turn from east to west in order to keep their faces fully exposed to the sun as it crosses the sky.  This week I learned that there is a word for that – sunflowers are heliotropic, “helios” being the Greek word for “sun.”  They turn to face the source of light, which they depend on for their life.

Can I invent a new word?  I want to be Christotropic.  I want to set my face toward Him, giving Him my full attention, and seeking Him.  I want my life to be oriented toward Him, every moment of every day.

I want Christ to have my face and my focus, and I don’t want Him to have to grab my cheeks to make it happen.

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About Sabbath Thoughts

My name is Mike Gaston. I am a former missionary, a Shepherding Pastor at Heights Church in Prescott, AZ, a happy husband, a spoiled father of two daughters, a proud grandfather, and a recently-convinced pursuer of the benefits of intentional, regular, contemplative, Christ-centered rest. This blog will allow me to share thoughts about Sabbath, as well as thoughts about God and the Christian life that come out of my restful Sabbath moments.
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4 Responses to Sunflowers, Two Prophets, and a 7-year-old Girl

  1. Man of Styrofoam says:

    Mike, this is really really powerful brother. I really needed this today. As you know, you taught me to go on prayer walks. Lately, they have been very inconsistent due to the busyness of life. This reminded me of how important it is to go on prayer walks on a regular basis. And maybe a nice long one once a week. It is really hard to do that in Indio in the summer. You have to leave around 5:30 to get a nice long walk in before it gets too hot. Please pray that God would bless me with Sabbath walks.

    • Thanks for the encouraging words, Dave. And yeah, prayer walks in your neck of the woods have to be planned carefully. I will pray that they will be wisely scheduled, restful and Christotropic. 🙂

  2. Penny Burch says:

    Thanks Mike. I also am walking almost every morning at at 5:30 to enjoy the cool morning and the blessed quiet. I find my mind wanders a bit and it amazes me that I lose my focue so quickly, but……He pulls me back and we start again. Thank you for your postings, they are always so encouraging.
    Grace 2 u,
    pb

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