This Summer I grew sunflowers in my back garden. By the time they were in bloom they had reached some height, the tallest standing strong at 8’ 9’’.
After a particularly windy Irish afternoon, this giant suffered for it’s audacity to peek its head quite so high above the parapet of the garden wall, and blew over in the gale. I cut the head off it and brought it into the conservatory to dry it out and see if I could harvest the seeds.
A month later, and on investigation this afternoon I realised it was ready to go, and so I manhandled the seeds out of it, a messy job that I’m sure people watching me over the wall wrestling with a flower wondered what I was at.
The incredible thing was that when I was done, I was basically back to where I started 6 months ago. The seeds that came out were the same as the one I planted in the ground, only now, instead of just 1, I have 896 of them.
(Yes. I counted.)
In May, I put 1 in the ground and now I have 896 more. Each one brimming with the spark of life and potential to create a whole new flower next Spring.
It made me think of that verse in the Bible where Jesus says:
“Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.
But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”
– John 12:24
It’s a verse that has been on my mind this week.
Last weekend, I heard the tragic news that a girl I worked alongside some years ago, now serving as a missionary in South Africa, had died in a car crash along with her mother who was visiting at the time.
I don’t pretend to know the reasons behind why the things that happen happen, or even possess the grace to sit back and blithely say to God, “Your will be done, Lord”, because what has happened to that family is a tragedy. A young woman committed to following God to the ends of the earth, serving the least and the lost, dying in this way alongside her mother. I can’t pretend to understand. Not even a little.
But when I read that verse, something speaks to me.
That even if I don’t understand, even if there isn’t a soul on this earth who can possibly get it, perhaps God does.
My prayer now is that the story, the faith and the sacrificial life that Brianne led echo throughout her friends, family and beyond.
Just as with those sunflower seeds, may this one life laid down be a seed.
A seed that will result in many more,just like hers, springing up, inspired by the choices she made, the way of life she chose, and the example of the One she chose to follow.
I don’t pretend to have the answers, or even to be anywhere near okay with what has happened, to understand even a thimbleful of what the family of these two women is going through now. I don’t have answers. But this verse gives me something else, something that is sometimes even more difficult to come by.