Thursday, April 5, 2012


Anyone who’s been to my house anytime from spring through fall knows that I love to garden. When we moved here six years ago, my flowerbed space was filled with waist-high weeds (which would be shoulder-high on most of you!) Though it was hard to envision what could be, I knew I had to start by pulling all those weeds. It was an impossible task, but since when did I, Super Garden Woman, give in to impossibility? I donned my cape (er, I mean my dust mask) and braved the dangers of hay fever to bring some order to the jungle. It took a couple of years, but by the second year I had more flowers blooming than weeds, and thus deemed the project a success.

Now, you can start a flower garden from seeds, or from having a disobedient car that won’t drive past a nursery without turning in, but the best way to increase your blooms is by cross-pollination. That doesn’t mean that you frown at your flowers and scare them into producing more, but that the pollen from one plant is transferred to a different plant. Flowers are sexual beings, and the male pollen on the anther of one flower needs to be moved to the female stigma of another flower. This is necessary in the fertilization process of flowers.

So how does this happen? It doesn't take a moonlit night or quiet, romantic music. Sometimes the force of the wind can carry the pollen from one flower to another. God also designed it so that butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, and even flies are involved in the process, though they don't even realize it. They're just busy going about their normal, daily routine of trying to get food. In their quest for their favorite nectar buried within the flower, they unintentionally rub against the pollen-producing stamen, getting pollen stuck to their body. By moving on to another flower, a portion of the pollen rubs off their body and onto the next plant's stigma. It makes for new, strong flowers.

At this time of year, with Easter on Sunday, our thoughts naturally focus on the cross. As Christians, we realize that it is central to our belief in the saving power of Christ. The cross and resurrection are what brings us salvation, freedom from the power of sin, and the assurance of spending eternity in heaven. But we're not supposed to keep that news to ourselves--we need to have cross-pollination. The truth we have must be carried to another person in order for the gospel to spread.

Just as pollen can be spread by a gentle breeze, so too can the word of God be spread by the Holy Spirit, which is often represented by wind in the Bible. But God also uses us to carry out His rooting of a new life in another person. Just like the insects He uses to fertilize different plants, we may be going about our daily routine, not aware of how God is using us. As we feed on the nectar of the Word of God, we can’t help but have it “stick” to us. As we interact with other people around us, God’s love, peace, joy, etc. also rub off on them. We are pollinating other people with the power of the cross, fertilizing the work God is doing in their lives. 

So the next time you’re out working in your garden and you see a big bumble bee cruising in and out of flowers or notice pollen floating in the air, just remember that God has called you to be a cross-pollinator too. The message of the cross of Christ is the life-giving pollen for our world.