In my kitchen at home, I have a 16- month 2016 Florals calendar with various floral displays for each month. This month, for the month of September, I turned open the page to a striking image of sunflowers. It was a vibrant, close up image and I was immediately drawn in. I began to wonder, what do sunflowers symbolize? In the paragraphs to follow I want to take you on the journey that began with that question.

What I first came across in my search is that sunflowers symbolize adoration, loyalty and longevity. I also found that sunflowers symbolize worship and faithfulness. But I’ll tell you what I loved the most and what caused me to pause and dig deeper. Sunflowers actually got their name from their tendency to reposition themselves to face the sun. Imagine the sunflower, tilting it’s head up toward the sun to daily be nourished. What a beautiful image. As Christians our act of worship is to reposition ourselves to face the (son). Our longevity as Christians depends on our ability to “tilt our heads up” and be nourished by the Lord to continue our journey. I enjoy a quote a found by Helen Keller, she states, “ Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It’s what the sunflowers do.”

Onward to the Stained Glass Window, what do stained glass windows have to do with sunflowers you may ask? Well, let’s just take the argument that sunflowers symbolize worship and take it from there. The connection of worship to stained glass windows may be easier to see as many churches and cathedrals have stained glass windows. During my search of sunflowers, I felt the Holy Spirit nudge, “Look up the imagery of stained glass.” Since I was already researching, I went ahead. As before with the sunflowers, I want to draw you into the symbolism and bring the gained knowledge to our relationship with God.

What are some of the things I found in regards to stained glass? I found that the glass is colored by adding a metallic salt during the making of the material. After the glass is colored, small glass pieces are arranged to form an image and are securely held together usually by strips of lead and supported by a strong frame. This process requires artistic skill in order to create a design and engineer the appropriate pieces together. There are also three requirements, the window must be able to stand the test of time from various weathers (wind, rain), it must fit securely into the space for which it was made and lastly, it must be able to support it’s own weight. As a pictoral art, stained glass windows are not like other windows in that their purpose is not to allow those inside the building to view out or to allow sun to come in. Rather, they utilize the light to illuminate the image of the stained glass.

At Life Pacific College, the Disciplines of Life Seminar (First year students) have the opportunity not only to share their story/testimony but to also take a strengths-finder test. This test essentially highlights the aspects that you may be talented in such as achieving, empathy, connection, developer, and learner.  

Let’s tie it all together, the glass used to create the image is colored by salt. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus refers to us as “the salt of the earth.” All of our unique giftings, our personalities, our backgrounds can be seen as the salt, beautifully adding various colors to the image that God is trying to create. I imagine God, the master carpenter, skillfully placing each of us into the position we need to be in and securely holding us together by his spirit. The frame, Christ, holds us in place through the wind and the rain of life and makes sure we stay snugly in place. God is displayed best through us when like the sunflower, when we tilt our heads up to our Father and soak in His love. Then the image of Him can be illuminated through us as we embrace who he made us to be: our uniqueness, our stories, our strengths. I encourage you take the StrengthsQuest test and partake in the journey that our Life Pacific students will take in finding the strengths in who God made you to be.

Jennifer Almaguer

Emmaus Road Intern