I like flowers.
In fact, I love flowers. For my 18th birthday my dad bought enough cut and potted flowers to line the route from my bed to the breakfast bar in our house, so when I woke up there they were. An absolute assortment of beauty to mark my first steps into adulthood. I could go on, but I’ll save you the sonnet.
My kids are aware of how much I love flowers, and they regularly shower me with bouquets of weeds and little flowers that grow in the grass. They are usually little bunches of clover or violets, but the most popular choice is a bright yellow dandelion.
Growing up, the adults around me who worked a garden or kept their lawn perfectly manicured hated dandelions with a passion. Once they took hold, they spread like brilliant yellow wildfire, spoiling all perfection. On more than one occasion I spent the afternoon digging these out of the yard.
My youngest told me he loves these yellow flowers. He says it’s because they bloom over and over again, so there’s always new ones to pick. Dandelions are indeed a generous flower that gives in quiet abundance day in day out, year after year.
While some may feel enraged by these flowers, I get a thrill. I’m talking delight, and smiles that are real. This spring the island of grass in a road round-about was absolutely full, right to the edge of the curb, with dandelions. It was a joy to see every day on my way to school pick up. It felt like a bouquet from God just for me.
It got me thinking about the generosity of God.
Thanks to movies like “The Ten Commandments” and “Bruce Almighty,” I think we get a skewed understanding of God. Like He’s only plagues and power. All cinematic heresy aside, He’s more than raw power, He’s also a gentle whisper. He is the God who sees us. The Lord saw Elijah despairing in the desert and sent ravens and angels to care for his needs and strengthen him (1 Kings 17:1-7, 19:1-10). He saw Hagar and Ishmael dying of thirst in the wilderness, and sent an angel to show her a well (Gen. 21:1-21).
When I read through the bible, I see God working in His people’s lives through humble every day kinds of things. Like the miracle of the oil and the flour. During the drought, Elijah stayed with a widow. She had enough oil and flour to make one more meal, and that was it. No more money, no more supplies, famine in the land. That was the end for her and her son. But God lead Elijah to her house, and as long as he stayed there, the oil and the flour did not run out. It was a miracle, and it was simple at the same time (1 Kings 17:8-16).
This went on for several years. Bread made of olive oil and flour. Day in. Day out. They lived through the drought until God sent rain to Israel. It reminds me of the manna the Israelites had in the wilderness before they came into the Promised Land. There was no food in the wilderness, not that they could farm when they were always moving about. So God sent miraculous food, called manna, which covered the ground instead of dew every morning. Again, it was miraculous, but it was also the simplest food, and this went on for decades (Ex. 16, with mentions throughout Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua).
I feel like sometimes when we ask for miracles we expect filet mignon and caviar. Because with that skewed understanding we think, “Hello, God is all powerful and flashy as heck. If He’s going to break into the natural, why not do it in luxury?” However, I don’t remember reading anything about the widow’s oil being infused with black truffles after a year to prove they still had the favor of God on their lives. I don’t recall there being one word about the manna showing up garnished with macarons to bring some color and sweetness to the experience.
Or there’s the Israelite’s clothes. When they were in the wilderness their clothing and shoes did not wear out. They were walking around in those robes and sandals for 40 years (Deut. 29:5). Like, those were probably handed down from one generation to the next, they held up so well. This was for sure a miracle. I can’t seem to get a t-shirt to last longer than a year, sometimes not even that. Yet the provision was still basic, even in the midst of the miraculous. It’s not like God saw holes in their clothes and left new clothes at their tent entrance, like an Amazon delivery, to give some variety to the Israelite’s lives. He could’ve, because He is omnipotent, but He didn’t.
More often than not, God’s generosity and provision are more like the dandelions in my back yard than some lavish English garden. They’re found in the everyday things, the basic elements of life. It’s not showy, or entertaining. The Lord’s gifts are better than that, they’re faithful. You can count on them every day. His gives provision in such a way that needs are met without creating new problems. Daily bread was better than daily macarons, because it nourished the people and didn’t create the eventual health problems caused by a diet consisting solely of cookies.
It’s easy to resent the dandelions in our lives when we live in a world that says life is only good when it’s full of orchids. It’s so easy to write off the seemingly small answers to our big prayers, and say they don’t really count. I’d go so far as to say it’s hard to recognize the faithfulness of God, as we’re swimming in a culture of faithless and unreliable. When we don’t know what faithful generosity looks like, we tend to say, “Someone needs to mow those dandelions.”
The faithful generosity of God will probably look different for each of us in our various situations. But as for me, I pray every day for the Lord to help me properly see the gifts and provisions He has sent. To help me have a heart of gratitude for the stability within His simple faithfulness. This summer it has started with seeing a dandelion and saying, “Thank you.”