Several summers ago, I was gardening wildflowers. It was therapeutic — weeding and watering the cosmos, blanket flowers, cornflowers, and other delicate beauties that graced the yard. They brought me more happiness than I could articulate. (This is probably largely due to the fact that I’m not a gardener-type at all, and plants that survive me are a mini miracle.)
When mid-August ushered in the beginning of the end of the growing season, I grew so depressed that I refused to work in the garden anymore. (A super mature response, of course.) At the time, it felt like that tiny piece of heaven-sent goodness was coming to a screeching halt, and I just couldn’t bear to watch it all end.
Then I stumbled upon the art of flower hammering.
Flower hammering literally involves hammering a flower, often between two pieces of paper. When pounded or hammered, the flowers leave an imprint. It’s so easy a kid can do it . . . but it’s so complex and satisfying that adults write books about the art.
It’s a great stress reliever if you want to make art and use a hammer. But, for the flower, it is a painful kind of art. After you hammer a flower, its petals are reduced to slop and have to be scraped off and chucked, thrown away. So why would any kind and loving person pick exquisite blooms and obliterate the life out of them?
Because the pounding of the flower preserves the beauty of it long past its lifetime. The beauty of the flowers in my garden withstood time, long after the blooms withered away.
With restored happiness, I experimented for hours. I even made dozens of cards with these hammered flowers to give as gifts, hoping to share some of the beauty.
I discovered certain flowers worked better than others. Some flowers left great color but then faded; others left true color. Some stages of certain flowers’ lifespans worked better than others, but this all depended on the flower. Each kind of flower required a different amount of pressure. This was the trickiest part because over-smashing sometimes just left a blotch, while not enough pressure sometimes didn’t leave an imprint at all.
As I hammered the flowers, I didn’t feel bad for squashing them, as their growing season was nearly over anyway. Instead, I was looking forward to beholding the beauty that their imprints would preserve for years.
Then, it hit me like I was in the front seat of an object lesson.
“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Our Savior, Jesus — fully man and fully God — was hammered to a cross. Like my pounded flowers, He was reduced to a slop. He suffered for our sake; He withheld nothing. He gave up His life, securing for us the most beautifully infinite and intimate connection with our Heavenly Father.
But that was only part of the object lesson . . .
“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, ‘All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’ And this is the word that was preached to you.”
1 Peter 1:23-25
The thing is, we are like those flowers. Though our lives are fleeting, Jesus gives us the privilege of leaving a legacy through Him.
We can look to Jesus when life hammers us — when we’re battle-weary from all the pressures . . . when we wonder if we’re really making the kind of difference we hoped we’d make.
God knows what kind of “flower” He made each of us and what degree of pressure is needed to leave the imprint He desires on our lives. And, because our heavenly Father has decided to conform us to the image of His Son, we can trust He knows exactly how much pressure is needed for this process. No more, no less.
Sister, our pain is more than transient torture. With every yielded hope and surrendered expectation; with every thought taken captive and made obedient to Christ; with every fear entrusted to Him and every tear-filled care cast upon Him . . . we are leaving a legacy. Though pounded and hammered, we are leaving an imprint that points to the image of Christ.
Take heart, for you are dearly loved and your labor in the Lord is not in vain. Your life, however hope-filled or hammered, will leave a mark of beauty that will long outlast your earthly visit.