(Post contributed by Glenn Vos of Holland Christian Schools in Holland, Michigan—thanks Glenn for sharing!)
I love to work outside with flowers, and it is something I enjoy doing a great deal. I am sure I was influenced by my mother, who always had beautiful flowers planted around our home. She had a garden full of flowers that frequently were made into arrangements which adorned the front of the pulpit in our church where my parents were the custodians. I find gardening to be therapeutic—it does not require a committee to decide how something should be done nor do the flowers ask much of me other than some watering, fertilizing, and weeding.
Depending where you live, you have surely noted by now that the spring flowers—daffodils, crocuses, tulips, and many others—are in beautiful bloom right now. They leapt out of the ground here in Michigan after some of our recent warm weather and in a matter of days changed the landscape remarkably. Suddenly, the grays and browns of winter had splashes of color that caught our eyes. You can hardly drive around our community at this time of year and not marvel at the beauty of these new additions to the yards of nearly every home.
What impresses me about spring flowers is that they are very delicate in their structure and design, yet they are some of the hardiest flowers around when it comes to weather conditions. They can handle cold better than heat, and the wind can do more damage than the sun. The warm, almost hot, breezes that we appreciate during the spring are their worst enemy. Many spring flowers are planted as bulbs, biding their time for warmer soil and the passing of winter, and then, independent of any further action by us, they appear, grow, and eventually bloom.
So what does all this have to do with Christian education? Beyond the obvious connections to planting, growing, and nurturing, the very nature of spring flowers provides some great lessons for us in living and learning.
First, the very contrast of the brilliant colors of the flower to the dark soil and gray skies they come out of provides a great picture lesson for each of us. The need to be embedded in the very darkness of the soil and still finish with a bloom filled with great color and splendor is what is at the very core of a Christian education, especially from a Reformed point of view. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24).
Second, it is important to note the impact that winds of “hot air” can have upon the strength of the plant: Have we really prepared our children for the impact of media and culture upon their now sturdy looking stems?
Third, to be delicate yet strong and hardy is really at the center of the true character of a follower of Christ.
Fourth, the variety of colors, even within the blossom itself, should be a reflection of what we want our schools and our churches to look like.
Fifth, there are early varieties and late varieties of spring flowers—students, or adults for that matter, do not all learn at the same rate nor do we all grow and develop at the same time. Differences are not just OK; they are important to keep the whole garden blooming throughout the entire growing season.
Sixth, if you just look at the bulb, you are not able to tell what the blossom will look like. You might know it is a tulip bulb but not the exact color or the variety. You need to see the plant in bloom to fully appreciate the bulb. So it is with children. We can not know by looking at a preschooler or even a high school student how God might want to use the gifts he has given this child, so we need cultivate and nurture each one to his or her full potential.
When you see spring flowers growing in your yard or as you travel about, I hope you will begin to see a whole lot more than just flowers. Seeing them in all their beauty will give you all the more reason to praise God and to bring him honor and glory.