A while ago, when our faithful lawn care engineer, Mike, was on vacation, I took a few hours to murder the dandelions. We are enjoying Oregon’s typical dry summer, and by this time in the season pretty much the only things still growing are those happy-faced little yellow-flowered plants we all love to hate so much. And as the mower and I made pass after pass, I realized what an exercise in futility my effort really was: in a few days those intrepid blossoms would be back, as joyfully persistent on flourishing as ever. If genius is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration, then the conditions were perfect for a great epiphany: Why don’t we re-name this place Pacific Community Church and Dandelion Farm? Then every summer the sight of our abundant crop would bring happy thoughts of success instead of depressing admissions of helplessness.
As the mower droned on, I asked myself, “What is it about dandelions that make them such healthy, hardy, and happy plants? If only Christians could grow like dandelions! If only they could take the kind of treatment I was meting out on these little flowers and like them, bounce back with the same joyful persistence.
Anyone who has tried to uproot a dandelion knows the first characteristic I thought of. Dandelions have large, deep roots. This fact is why, while the lawn grass may be
thoroughly brown, these little monsters can stay green the whole summer. Too often we find Christians who, when lean times come, forget God’s promise:
Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” 6 so that we confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID.
WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?”
And forgetting His promise, they give in to worry, or worse, violate godly wisdom regarding the acquisition and use of money. If we would only remember that since we have God and His perfect love always with us, we have no reason for panic. Wanting the people of the church in Ephesus to have the same confidence, the apostle Paul wrote:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in
your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
Paul’s language said this: “Because you were completely rooted in the love if Jesus from the very beginning when you first trusted in Him, and knowing that by the power of Almighty God you are still rooted in that love and still to this day have His love as a firm foundation, I am praying that you will grow in your grasp of the fullness of His love and in experiencing the transforming power of Christ’s immense love in your daily living as a follower if His.”
If we sink our roots deeply into the fact of God’s immense love for us, remembering it and relishing it every day, then as the seasons of life come and go, we would be like the dandelion, always flourishing when we should be dry and dormant.
Another feature of the dandelion is that its cheery flower keeps its face aimed at the sun as the earth spins like a pig on a rotisserie. A design that is seen on many plants, a complex system of heat and light-sensitive chemicals and structures accomplish this feat reliably, day in, day out. And if you are myopically biased you might believe that amazing feat of engineering happened by accident. I just say, “Wow, God you are amazing!”
But if the little dandelion is wise enough to keep its face pointed at its source of life, we who are new creations in Christ could learn from its example.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
The first readers of these words were facing difficult times. They were beginning to feel the pressure of official persecution. While it had not yet come to martyrdom, it had involved the confiscation of their property and the disruption of their lives. So the Holy Spirit’s instruction is spot on, as always: Fixing our eyes on Jesus gives us the perspective to see through our present suffering to the joyful purpose that God has for it. Just as the enduring dandelion keeps its face tracking directly at the sun, if we maintain our focus on the Jesus who loves us and gave His life for us, remembering the victorious outcome of His suffering, we can be sure that no matter what challenges come our way, God has joy set before us just as Jesus did.
But dandelions also have another fascinating habit: they close up every night. Again,
a complex design of chemistry and mechanics senses the onset of night and the
flower closes for business until sunrise. What an example of how to live in this world
that is so unfriendly for Jesus’ followers.
As Paul clearly commanded:
Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness…
As the dandelion never fails to close up for the darkness, we need be vigilant to keep our hearts with a sign “closed until morning” when the dark influences of this evil world try to invade. And we should be especially aware of how foolish it is to intentionally expose ourselves to darkness in our choice of entertainment or relationships—it’s bad enough that this world we live in bombards us constantly!
Earlier this spring, I had another opportunity to mow—this time grass and dandelions. I
was surprised when I saw hundreds of honeybees beesily buzzing about harvesting
dandelion pollen. They literally roll themselves in it, the sticky pollen attaching itself to the bee like flocking on a Christmas tree. Then the pollen transporters return with their payload to the nest, where the pollen is removed, eaten, and processed into bee food—honey.
Even though dandelions don’t need pollination to produce seeds, they still provide a source of nutrition for airborne pollinators. We followers of Jesus could learn a lot from the bees and their Creator’s example: Never miss an opportunity to be a blessing to all who are in need without expecting anything in return.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. 2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will
Remember that I mentioned that dandelions don’t need pollination in order to produce seeds? Because of that their offspring are genetically identical. They all show the same traits with amazing perfection.
While Jesus never intends us to be identical, cookie cutter copies of one another, He also emphasized repeatedly the priority of unity among His followers.
“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
Jesus, hours before the cross, was praying that His followers would be as unified as the Trinity! And that unity between people from very different backgrounds would be the strongest proof that Jesus was really the Son of God come to earth to rescue we sinners from the penalty, power, and presence of sin.
Seeds. Dandelions are famous (or infamous) for their seeds. Each dandelion plant can produce 2,000 seeds. And each seed is ingeniously designed to have its own silky parachute that catches even a slight breeze and carries the seed as far as the wind is willing, to spread dandelion cheer in just about any place from gardens to golf courses.
So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
Despite what some errant teachers may say, God’s plan for His redeemed people is NOT to create a utopist subculture that people will be attracted to when they see how well we live. That’s what was happening in the early chapters of the book of Acts, but God moved through persecution to break up their party so they would complete their original assignment: going into all the world and preaching the gospel!
All followers of Jesus should be sowers of the seed of the Word of God. Jesus made it
clear as He gave his last instructions to His disciples:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
If only we would be more like dandelions