Dear Family and Friends,
In the early summer of 2012, about 40 days after I started working at BVT, my colleague Linda Taylor got a phone call to come to the back of the BVT property to “see something amazing.” So, she and I loaded up in the car and headed out back to see what was so captivating.
Upon approaching the scene, we could see a large pile of burned debris (dead tree limbs, brush, etc) where our maintenance department occasionally burned old foliage from around campus.
Upon further approach to the burn pile, we noticed something that was indeed amazing. Out of ashes, a huge, beautiful, and most magnificent sunflower somehow sprung out of the ground.
Linda asked me to take photos of the spectacle, so being the good/new employee I was, I joyfully took out my camera and took several pictures. As magnificent as it was, in the back of my mind I questioned why or how we might ever use these photographs in the future. Regardless of my doubt, I kept silent and captured the moment in my camera as I was asked.
No other sunflower had ever been seen on the BVT campus prior to or ever since that time.
Over the next 7-9 years, it became more evident to me as to why God allowed that sunflower to come out of the burn pile. Actually, nothing has been more evident. And if the rise of a magnificent flower out of nothing but pure ash is not meaningful to anyone else, at least it is to me.
Out of all the symbolic traits that sunflowers carry with them – things like life, joy, energy, vitality, etc – perhaps the most notable trait is how it turns itself in the most direct position in front of the sun, so it can get the maximum amount of light.
Now, 9 years later, right where that sunflower once was, sits three new homes, which made way for 18 more lives to join the BVT family. And, we are underway for even more beautiful additions to the BVT campus with the upcoming construction of the Mehling Center, which will impact even more lives right here on the BVT campus.
As great as BVT is, it hasn’t been immune to its fair share of hardships over the years. Hard work does not come without a little blood, sweat, and tears from time to time. Hard work is indeed just that…work that is hard. But it’s the beautiful results of hard work that makes it all worthwhile.
Perhaps that sunflower is most meaningful to me at this point in time, today, as we are finally rounding the corner of perhaps the most challenging 15 month span of our lives (maybe not for all, but certainly for many).
“Beauty from ashes” (Isaiah 61:3) is what continually comes to mind as it relates to this topic. And 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 sums it up perfectly: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.”
It’s not that life “can be” hard…it’s that life “is” hard. There will be times when we are surrounded by nothing but ashes. But it’s most often how we respond to those times of hardship that our life is defined and how we are to be remembered.
So friend, when you find yourself surrounded by ashes, how do you want to be remembered? As a coal among the rest, or as a sunflower rising above?
Be the sunflower.
And as you continue to grow and move about a life that is hard, always remember…you can do hard things.
Until next time,