"Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. (James 4:13-17)

I seemed to be cursed when it comes to growing sunflowers! It happened again! (Yes, it has happened before.) I planted a 16 foot long row of sunflower seeds. They all came up—were about 1½ inches high and THICK. The way they came up, I suspected there were too many for all of them to disappear.

I made a plan to protect them by making a small, convenient fence around the flower bed (18 inch chicken wire). Bill and Toka Beall stopped by to see us Thursday night. Bill confirmed that what I planned to do would work. My Friday project was set! I knew where to get what I wanted—by early Friday afternoon my solution against past harm would be in place! I saw the potential problem, in my head I solved that problem, and my reasoned out solution should work!

Friday morning I left for the gym about 6 a.m. (as usual). For some reason, I decided to check my sunflower plants one more time before I bought my supplies. You guessed it—Thursday night a critter ate the whole row (all but one—left to taunt me?).

Oh, well, I could be philosophical and say it happened before I bought the supplies. However, at that moment, I did not feel philosophical. All I felt was this: the critters won—again! I cringe when I think of how many times “dumb” animals made me feel dumb! Good intentions and well-made plans do not produce protection just by thinking!

The lessons in this silly incident are rather profound. It is amazing what we can learn from squirrels, rabbits, or nocturnal critters in general.

  1. Never take tomorrow for granted. It is so easy to decide whatever is will always be. Do not assume that what should be done now will wait on you to do it later. Simply because you see and understand the potential problem does not mean you have solved the problem.
  2. When you know enough to think the situation through, act. Surely, there are consequences to taking action before you know what you need to know. Surely, (also) there are consequences to procrastinating. Rarely will there be a “perfect” time to make a difficult decision. However, making a difficult choice is almost always better than making no choice at all, thus allowing “accident” or “random happenstance” to make the choice for you.
  3. Never ignore the “God factor.” We are not as big as we think we are!

Could we call this the parable of the sunflower plants and lessen my disappointment?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 19 June 2008

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