Gardeners like me (willing, know some stuff, but not expert) like plants of this easy-to-grow kind. Seeds, soil, sun, water, flowers. Masses and masses of golden-orange poppies with feathery leaves. Gorgeous, brilliant, lots of bang for the buck.
I first grew Eschscholzia californica (Californian Poppy) in Derbyshire, a brand new garden that grew weeds and teasles with gleeful enthusiasm. Anything to smother the weeds and have a chosen colour! One packet of seeds later and a little patience… Instant garden. Yay!
Inspired by this success, and the fact they self-seeded with great efficiency, these poppies have become a favourite. Not only in Derbyshire, but then in Devon, then Luton, and (shortly) in Sussex. I have the packet ready to sow.
If a satellite had followed my journeys, large swathes of brilliant orange with clusters of creamy yellow would boldly flash as if to say “Richard woz here”.
Each individual flower is about the size of a 50p coin. If you choose to get close, amazing detail appears: pollen-encrusted insects venture into the heart of the flower. Massed together, they have real impact. Not subtle- you may even think garish- but they have been transforming wastelands for me for thirty years, I’m not giving them up now!
Then I went to California. Driving out of Los Angeles, on the way to Yosemite National Park, the hills were painted orange. Hillsides FULL of poppies- no wonder they call it the Golden State. My glorious patches of garden didn’t quite match up!
Think about this: individually they are small, easily dwarfed by roses, dahlias, or chrysanthemums. But joined together, poppies make a strong impression. If you were to think of Christians as flowers, we might choose to be a rose (perfume but thorns) or an orchid (gorgeous but tender). There may even be Christ-followers like that.
Most of us probably have less heady ambitions. We won’t win “Best of Show” or Gold Medals at Chelsea. But if you put enough tough little poppies in place, we really will make an impact. Maybe I’ll settle for being a poppy. Jesus told a parable about three servants with different amounts of money to use, invest, or trade with. Make that about plant types: whatever the servants were given, it was up to them to be responsible, accountable, and profitable. Lord, if you give me some poppies I’ll turn a wasteland orange…
Being “locked down” during this pandemic, we may think there is not much we can do for Jesus and His Kingdom. But as somebody once said, “You’ll never say that small things don’t make any difference if you’ve ever spent a night in a bedroom with a mosquito!”
If we flower where we been planted, who knows what influence or impact we may have? God can and does use any of us. We may be just ordinary- a poppy-type Christian- but we are beautiful, useful, and a joy to others.
“Our Father is the Gardener…”
Meditate on that.