By Lynn Jones
One of the things that I enjoy doing is growing flowers. In October, when the days are getting shorter and cooler, I pull up the annuals that have bloomed all summer in the flower bed around our mailbox. The long, hot days of summer are the time most flowering plants prefer. They soak up the sun and display their blooms, but they do not tolerate cold and darkness very well. So, I put them away with gratitude for their contributions during the warmth of summer.
After I put them away, I bring out the pansies. Here in the unpromising days of autumn, I plant the pansies in the ground with faith that they will endure the winter. And endure they do! This winter we have had icy nights and temperatures into the teens. Most things have died, but not the pansies. They have endured. Not only have they endured, but they have bloomed.
Now, somewhere along the way, when people displayed weakness, others began calling them “pansies.” I protest. Such a use of the term is a slam on one of the toughest little flowers ever to grace a garden. On icy mornings I look at them and wonder if they will survive. They always do. By noon they are even venturing forth with fresh growth and new flowers.
We would do well to learn from such a plant. Perseverance under adverse circumstances is not just a trait to be admired in plants. It’s one that should be prominent in our lives.
When the summer Olympics were held in Athens in 2004, Vanderlie de Lima from Brazil was leading the marathon when a spectator with mental problems jumped on him and forced him off course. De Lima was able to escape the grasp of his attacker, got back on course, and finished third in the race. He said that he was proud that he had medaled for himself and his country.
Something similar may happen to us in the Christian life. The Apostle Paul wrote the Galatians in Galatians 5:7, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” Don’t let anything knock you off course. Stay on course for Christ in this new year in spite of the difficulties you encounter.
The name “pansy” is derived from the French word pensee, which means “thought.” When the pansy was introduced, many felt that its flower resembled a person’s face. And as it nodded in the wind, it appeared to be deep in thought.
The cold days and long nights of winter can cause you to do some serious thinking. They can cause you to think about things like endurance and perseverance in your Christian life.
You will be called many things in life. If anyone calls you a “pansy,” stand tall, and wear the title with pride.
Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: email@example.com.