Rev. Isaiah Reid
Copyright © 20071
Daffodil days are here again. There are season days that come but once a year. Especially are these marked in springtime and autumn. Such days are peculiarly illustrated. The finest designs and engravings are put in Nature’s Almanac during these weeks. They may vary some at times, but are as regular in their marking of the seasons as the stars. We can mark months and years by God’s floral designs. The Daffodils and Easter are almost synchronous. This year they came two days before Easter. Though not first in the list of blooms, yet they lift their trumpets as if to proclaim the special gladness of the hour. They seem born to announce something special. Other flowers have their story, but what came these to announce? Nothing but the best things, for they are so pure and so royally adorned in the richest of gold, surrounded by their white perianth lifted high above their linear leaves of green. Out of the black mold,3 into rich green, then a corolla of white out of which is lifted the golden trumpet. And, as if this were not enough, fragrance is added, as if this trumpet was both an instrument of announcement and a censer waving in a temple service, dispensing incense with every passing whisper of the winds.
They, like the hepaticas, announce winter past and spring at hand; but this is not all. They seem to have a deeper secret to make known. They are not for mere almanacs. The hepaticas have no trumpet. The spring beauties lie close to the earth. (We have no Arbutus here; it is not in our Iowa flora.) The bloodroots have a story of their own, of woods and leaf mould and April showers. The anemonaes are later, but they are entertainers rather than announcers.
This year the crocus was our firstfruits of the outdoor spring carnival. Next came the hepaticas transplanted from the forest. One afternoon a few days since we made a trip to the line of timber along the Coon River, three and a half miles away, where we found that nature in her undisturbed horticultural methods surpasses all our artificial arrangements to imitate her. We found the hepatica season well near its zenith, and bloodroots and spring beauties plentiful, with wild dylitra lifting its pure white spikes of double spurred flowers, mixed with these early harbingers of April. To those who look, the Book of the “things that are made,” like the Revealed Book of Writings, never grows old in the reading. The Bible announcement of Easter and the Daffodil announcement are always fresh and new with thought never thought before, and circumstances never wrought out before.
The daffodil always tells of life from antecedent life. Last fall there was a bulb. This spring there are stem, leaves and flower. There are no flowers where there were no bulbs. This golden trumpet is from antecedent life. All around the bulb was plenty of good mould, and air, and there were showers and snows; but how happens it there are no blooms except where there were live bulbs? Why cannot the student of science learn the lesson, that matter of itself cannot organize itself into life? Why cannot the student of spiritual life see that God meant that he should understand that spiritual life cannot spring spontaneously from that which is dead in trespasses and sins; and that here, as in the garden bed, life must only come from antecedent life? Let him that hath ears hear what the daffodil trumpets have to say.5
This flower trumpet also tells of transformed life. It was sown a bulbous body. It is raised a plant body. It was sown in the image of the earthly; it is raised in the image of aerial and clad in the likeness of those who wear the garments of light. It was buried; but it is raised again. The life it then had has somehow been transformed into undreamed of beauty and surprising splendor. Yet the fall planting proves that it is not a new life, but a life it then had, transformed. I am not to have a new life in the sense that I shall have a new identity. The life remains the same in its various transformations. I shall forever know I am the same Isaiah Reid that sinned and was saved. On the fairer fields of the better country I shall not forget my autumn life when fall planting came, and the April day when the glorified life sprang from the antecedent life, all glorious and fresh as from the hand of the Divine artist, as really as this daffodil trumpet came from the last fall’s bulb that was planted. If I read aright the story this trumpet has to tell, I shall be so differently circumstanced that the Isaiah Reid that then is shall really need a new name to correspond with the new order of things. The death of my body is no more the death of me, than the death of the bulb is the end of the daffodil. Why cannot people learn the lesson? Death does not end all. It is the bulb that sleeps; the life knows no slumber. It leaves the bulb in the transformation. The word pictures of the Bible express only in hints what the heavenly transformation shall be. It is better told “by the things that are made.”6 Let him that hath ears to hear, hear what the daffodil trumpet has to say.
The daffodil trumpet has also to tell of refined life. It was sown in dishonor. It is raised in glory. It was of the earth, earthy. Before it was terrestrial; now it is celestial. It seems related to another life. It seeks sunlight and the dews of heaven. It goes as far as it can from earth towards heaven. Its trumpet from its highest limit looks toward earth in the delivery of its burden. The life that we are to have is a refined life. Something there needs to be to take the earth trend and earth weight out of us. The bulb-life is for an underground home. Only transformed life reaches upward toward heaven. Only the transformed life is the refined life. Lay down a bulb and a trumpet beside each other. What a contrast! One looks like the earth, its home. The other seems so different that it needs the winds of the skies to carry it to some fairer home. When the angels come, they will only want the souls radiant with the refined celestial life which is made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.7 “Let him that heareth hear what the trumpet saith to the readers.”
Again this trumpet saith, “Not that which shall be.” The life to come is not this life repeated. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.8. A material heaven would not suit us. “Not that body that shall be”9—not the bulb, but the trumpet life. The small talk about living the afterlife on this earth with much of what there is here now, making a material heaven, is but a little modification of bald materialism. The “life that shall be” is not for material, but spiritual bodies. We shall bear the image of the heavenly, not the earthly. We shall inherit incorruption. First that which is natural; afterward that which is spiritual.10 Here “absent from the Lord;” there forever with the Lord.11 Here sickness, weariness, need of rest, and death; there, no more tears, or sorrow, for they are fled away forever,12 and death is swallowed up in victory.13 This mortal has then put on immortality.14 This is a sin world; that is a land where sin and death and hell are forever excluded. Let him that readeth hear what this trumpet utters.
And still another voice: “Every man in his own order.”15 In the fall there were planted daffodils, crocus and hyacinth bulbs and early tulips. The resurrection is according to scripture, “Every one according to his own order.” Tulips came up tulips, the crocus opened with crowns of crocus blooms. The hyacinths are sending up spikes prepared for rich blooms. Death is a doorway, not an agent. Death belongs to the body, not the spirit. If you take away my house I am still left. The house is not me. It is the body which is the subject of the resurrection.
Each plant carried with it in November the essential life with which it reappeared in April. Each in its own order. We shall be changed as to external conditions, but the order will be preserved. Death cannot affect character. The lover of the saloon dying in some ditch will find the saloon gone, but the drunkard still there. He that is filthy let him be filthy still.16 The saint dying strong in the faith, giving glory to God, will sweep through the gates of light washed in the blood of the Lamb. Sainthood was heir to saintship. Sonship secured eternal inheritance. Death is swallowed up in victory.17 Let him that heareth say Amen.
from God's Book of Nature.
And still I hear another trumpet voice: “Them He also glorified.”18 If the daffodil glory be so manifold, so surprising, and so exceeding all previous promise, and beyond all imagination, what shall mine be, since I am made in the image of God himself? If He has so published this wonderful truth by taking the choicest of all material creation to picture it for us, what shall the consummation be? Written in the exquisite flower, painted again and again in the tinted petal, penciled in the most delicate shades of color, arched in every rainbow, diffused in every sunset and flying cloud, beaming on us from every star, massed for us in every lovely landscape, with mountain, river and sea forming the grand background for the enchanting picture; how shall we escape the idea of glorification in addition to creation, and divine manifestation and upholding? “Them He also glorified.” A truth so announced by all the trumpets of the earth and sky, so preached and illustrated in every flower, of vale or hill, so penciled in every dawn, so dipped in every sunset, should certainly be read by every soul. Let him that readeth say, Amen.
O mourning, troubled saint, dismiss thy tears. Thou art soon to shine as the stars, and be a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. If God careth for sparrows19 and daffodils, how much more does He care for thee?20 Some Good Friday, like this daffodil, thou, too, shalt be permitted to appear in thy glory robes and be ready for thy Easter-tide.21
- Annotations and other additions to the online, e-book, and print versions are Copyright © Jim Kerwin. Transcribed and edited by Jim and Denise Kerwin. ↩
- “Daffodil Days” title image created by Jim and Denise Kerwin, based on a photo by Denise Kerwin. ↩
- For readers as unfamiliar with gardening as this editor is, it might be good to note that Isaiah employs the word mold in a horticulturally specific way, meaning soil rich in humus and easily worked or crumbled. ↩
- All photos in this article are by Denise Kerwin. ↩
- This “he that hath ears” theme in “Daffodil Days” is like the repeated theme in the opening chapters of the Book of Revelation—2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22—as well as some of the parable teaching of Jesus (e.g., Luke 8:8; 14:35). ↩
- Romans 1:20 ↩
- The allusion is to Colossians 1:12. ↩
- 1 Corinthians 15:50 ↩
- 1 Corinthians 15:34 ↩
- 1 Corinthians 15:46 ↩
- The allusion is to 2 Corinthians 5:8. ↩
- Isaiah 35:10 and related verses such as Isaiah 25:8; 65:19; Revelation 7:17; and 21:4. ↩
- 1 Corinthians 15:54 (from Isaiah 25:8). ↩
- 1 Corinthians 15:53-54 ↩
- 1 Corinthians 15:23 ↩
- Revelation 22:11 ↩
- 1 Corinthians 15:54 ↩
- Romans 8:30 ↩
- Matthew 6:25-26 ↩
- Matthew 6:28-30 ↩
- This originally appeared as an article in Isaiah Reid’s “West of the Mississippi” section in Christian Witness and Advocate of Bible Holiness, 30 April 1903, page 5. This devotional, and more than forty others like it, are available in Sunnyside Papers: Inspirational Sketches from God's “Book of Nature,” available on Amazon.com. ↩